Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How a Very Fake Knife Almost Ended My Very Real Life

I have been to many schools over the years. I grew up in Texas, lived in Detroit for a while and spent the rest of my time in Pennsylvania. Throughout those years I experienced many different things relating to emergency procedures at school. In Texas we had tornado drills. Detroit...I was home schooled so I didn`t really have an emergency procedures in place. And, when I was in PA the college I went to had many different things in place to ensure our safety...

Now, I live in Japan and things are no different. There are fire drills, earthquake drills, and tsunami drills. All, are pretty common place and I have experienced something similar during my time in school. My school, also has stranger drills. If someone comes to school with a weapon with the intent of hurting someone there are things the teachers do to contain that person. Again, I understand the need and see it`s purpose.

What makes this story different is how I was asked to play the stranger on the school grounds. This idea was obviously kept a secret, just as the exact time and date of a fire drill, if only to insure its effectiveness. I was approached by a teacher and asked if I would be OK for me to play the stranger...I very quickly agreed and began to plan what I would do.

The teacher and I went through a mock run of what I supposed to do, a dress rehearsal if you will. We planned where I would go, what I would do, and my weapon of choice; a homemade knife made of paper and aluminum foil. (The foil of course adding to the realism of a blade.)

I had my plan, I was in position, and was waiting for my signal. I pulled the hood up on my jacket over my head and pulled it snugly down. A mask, usually used for people with colds was secured on my face with only my eyes noticeable. And the homemade knife, nicely slid up the sleeve of my jacket. Then, it happened. I saw the signal, it was time for me to move.

I quickly made my way up a short flight of stairs and proceeded to throw open a sliding door. Students, unsure of what was going on jumped and began to make their way to the safety of the exit. The teacher (obviously playing the part) slid desks in front of me as I yelled and cut the air with my paper knife. I knocked a few desks over and pushed my way to the main hallway eager to chase down anyone I could find.

Then I saw it, a pack of teachers running at me at full force. Two had chairs that they used like a lion tamer, hoping to hold me back. While a third wield a 7 foot long poll with a padded `u` shaped device at the end to subdue me.

Then a forth teacher appeared. Obviously, she was in shock. The look of terror on her face was not the same look the other teachers had. She was in protection mode and was going to stop me no matter what. I could see that she was unarmed but she was scanning the hallway for something that could be used as a weapon. Then she saw it...a red fire extinguisher fastened to the wall. She asked one of the other teachers what to do...should she pull it off the wall...throw it in my direction...perhaps empty it contents to confuse me...yet somehow she could not budge it from its location.

That`s when my focus shifted. I no longer could focus on my imminent death. From my right side came a yell and the painfull jab of yet another `u` shaped poll attack. One more teacher had circled around the school and caught me by surprise. This was not in the plan that I had walked through earlier! Things where quickly running away from me and my fake screams quickly became real yells and panic.

Then as fast as the drill had began it ended. All the actors had played their part and the students had been ushered to safety. The `stranger` had been contained and the teachers were triumphant...all but one. The one teacher who had not been in on the `joke`. She was exghaushted, panting, trying to catch her breath, and regain her bearings.

I quickly removed my disguise and revealed who I was under the mask. The panic left her face and she began to put together the events of the past few minuets. Her realization as to who the `stranger` was sent her into remorse and she quickly began to apologize for her actions. These new revelations were of great relief to her.

On the other hand, I was relieved that she hadn`t been able to pull the fire extinguisher off the wall. If she would have been successfull...a very fake knife would have ended my very real life...

Saturday, May 5, 2012

It's the little things

It's funny how the simplest of things can bring happiness into your day. Living abroad does something to a person. While I would argue it's something good, it's also something that isn't for everyone. Japan can be a crazy place to live sometimes. Especially for someone who is set in their ways (not saying me). Living in a country where very few people speak your language can sometimes be daunting. Walking into a grocery store to find shelves stocked full of products you have never seen before can be a huge shock. But, people do it. Everyday millions of people around the globe wake up to a world where they are foriegners.

For me this move to Japan was based on many factors. Calling, desire, necessity for a job, and wanting to see the world beyond my front door. While I was able to prepare myself for the move I could have never planned the experiences thus far, the people I have met, or the atmosphere in which I live. As I said some people can't do this. The need to have every detail planned out, every question answered, and every problem worked through with its solution. Sometimes, we have no answers for our questions, or they take a long time to come to you.

The past couple years of my life have been a strange mixture of joy, pleasure, sadness, and regret. But, that mixture has brought me to where I am today. All of those things have brought clarity to my days, and while I still don't have answers to all my questions I know that God's plan is so much bigger that my desire to find clarity in life's complications.

To top it all off while shopping at an international grocery store last night I found Kraft macaroni and cheese. Ya know, it's the little things that make the difference. Making lunch, doing laundry, listening to music, and enjoying some food from home, that's what my Japan looks, like today.