I consider myself among the fortunate few that I can say I’ve only ever had to experience one bomb threat in my life. It’s not an event that I care to repeat, but it’s something I can tick off of one of those Facebook life event pissing contests, or try to one up someone’s story at a boring party.
[DISCLAIMER]: This is how I remember everything happening, some of the details might be a little fuzzy or mistaken — please feel free to contribute and correct me at will.
The years have dulled my memory of the details — I’m fairly certain it was either 2000 or 2001, which would have made me a 10th grader. This particular stage in my young life was peculiar, to say the least. For one reason or another, I started dressing in black, dying my hair, and embracing the counter culture. I’m not entirely sure why I made this choice, but I sure ran with it. I have a theory about adolescence, when it applies to an education platform: a young person, in such an environment will revert to baser instincts, specifically tribe mentality. Youth will either fight to be a part of a more socially digestible pack, or try to buck the system. I bucked. I know better now.
I don’t think the school day had even aged to third period before we were herded into the gymnasium like cattle. I need you to understand that the school district I’m from is very small — packing the entire student body, seventh to twelfth grade, wasn’t that big of a feat, it had never been done before that moment.
Amongst the collective mass of the student body, questions began to be asked: what were we doing there. There were context clues, such as one of the secretaries holding the rolodex of class schedules, every teacher in the building practically building a wall between the gym and the hallway with their persons. Groups of students were talking to other groups, cliques that had never spoken to each other ever in life where now sharing information. It’s amazing how fear and uncertainty can be a unifying cause, even in the micro-example.
It felt like hours in that gym — eventually the rumors and speculation boiled down to a singular point: a bomb threat was called in. I can’t remember if we were dismissed to go to class, or if we were bussed him. As far as my recollection is concerned, my day ended in the gym that day.
It didn’t take long for a name to rise to the surface. His name is Jesse and that’s all I’m going to speak of his identity. Jesse and I wrestled on the same team the year before and I always thought he was a good kid; he enjoyed his partying, but who didn’t? The bomb threat was the first in a string of things Jesse would do to land himself in trouble. He drove a car through the pharmacy trying to get a fix, among others. The last I’d heard of Jesse, he had been sentenced in his own mother’s murder — I choose to remember Cindy (Jesse’s Mom) as a friend to my mother, someone who would laugh with Mom.
The truth is: I have no idea what it was like to live a day in Jesse’s life. I knew his sister Kelly and his Mom, Cindy. I hold them both in high regard — but I have no inside knowledge of what life was like for any of them. I don’t know if Jesse was undergoing treatment for anything, or if something pre-existing was going on. I try to remember Jesse was the kid on the wrestling team, but I struggle separating him from the horrible thing that happened.
I guess the best we can hope for is that we all make ourselves available to people who need someone to listen to.
Until next time.