Tuesday, May 30, 2006

School Memories: Paranoia in its Many Forms

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Sometimes, if I am short on sleep, my active imagination takes over. Before I share with you the school stories, first I must set the stage.

Imagine one Sunday night last year. Eric and I are returning home from being with friends, and Eric, ever the gentleman, states he's going to stop at the gas station and fill my car with gas so I don't have to the next morning. He also wants to run inside for a gallon of milk instead of paying at the pump. Here I am in our car at 10:30 PM, people-watching from my location since I have a perfect vantage point of the whole gas station. Suddenly, I see a car haphazardly brake in front of the door, two young men jump out, leaving their car running, and rush to the counter. This is playing on all my associations of robberies and all the surveillance videos shown on television, so I quickly begin fearing for my husband's life. I begin committing their license plate to memory, perhaps even reaching for my cell phone. Fortunately, I was proven wrong. These men were both apparently just desperate for a nicotine fix. They'll never know how I almost called the authorities for an attempted robbery.

Fast forward to the next morning. Soon after entering my high-school classroom, I suddenly hear quick movement. I look back to the source of the sound, where I see the leaves of my peace lily plant mysteriously waving in the still air. Crouched behind the leaves, hidden behind the pot, I see a dark, furry creature. I'm on the opposite side of the room and I'm cautiously trying to get a glimpse of said animal. Is it a skunk? Perhaps a cat? I do wonder, How did it ever get inside my room? Sure, it's an older building, but there are no obvious holes to the outside. I'm mentally planning my morning: there's plenty of time to find a custodian and somehow evict this squatter before my students will be arriving for class. I want to have a clear description to paint for the custodian so we know what we're dealing with, so I try to approach the animal without spooking it before locking it again in my room. As I near, I see it clearly. There it was...a mask. Yes, a mask from our Romeo and Juliet unit that had fallen off of my bulletin board, immediately above my peace lily. It was covered in black feathers, and its fall, so perfectly timed with my entrance into the room, had given it bestial characteristics.

This year is not without its episodes. I'll leave you in ignorance for now of my most recent embarrassment. This one actually became known to others because of my own paranoia. The setting: Cub Foods. The event: paying with a credit card. Perhaps it will all be made known at a later time. I can only reveal so many examples at a time, as you can't expect me to incriminate myself all at once.
For now, you must be satisfied with another school episode.

Now we're in my middle-school room. In my room, in addition to my computer, I have a bank of four Macs against a wall. Each Thursday night, they are turned on and some updating is done. One Friday morning, I unlock my door and flip on my lights. I am presented with an unsettling noise. There I am, all alone early in the morning, hearing a ticking sound coming from the row of computers. I again tried to reason with my overactive mind, explaining how middle-school students have little reason to plant a bomb in my room. After all, they don't have access to the building after hours, no one has tampered with my door, and who has the wherewithal to collect all the pieces to make a working bomb? Yet I still can't shake why I'm hearing this ticking sound. I slowly inch towards the computer I suspect to be the culprit. The ticking increases in volume. I carefully lower myself and glance underneath the computer. I doubted I would see a small box with a timer fitted to it, conveniently visible, but I had to appease my raging thoughts. Okay, fine. Nothing to be seen. No new stash of wires. Now that I was convinced no hooded seventh graders had entered my room and planted a bomb in retaliation for having to learn the parts of speech, I could approach the keyboard full of confidence. I jostled the mouse and examined the screen. All I saw was a file folder icon with a question mark on top of it. Not very informative. I forced it to shut down and then restarted. Still, the ticking, still the uninformative question mark. Later I learned it was a fried hard drive. You'd think they could find a more appropriate sound than a ticking.
Foiled again.

So our final score is Excessive imagination, 0. Reasonable explanations, 3. Maybe one of these days I'll finally learn my lesson. But then I'd be stuck with mediocre conversations with myself.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lovely post. I've been scouring the internet for personal stories from other ISFJs. Happy to read yours--which I completely identify with, by the way.