Strange days on campus.
Just as class was dismissing at 2 on Wednesday in our "ruthlessly enforced standards" ROTC building classroom, one of those ominous automated phone "alert" messages buzzed. A bomb threat had been reported for the building next door. Sure enough, we stepped out into a scene of rope-lined confusion. Heavy police presence, heavy uncertainty. Lots of nervous laughter and giggly chatter, which I guess is how many of us deal with the stress of living in a free and heavily-beweaponed, violence-besotted society.
Made my way around the pandemonium back to my building, and my next class. It was interrupted a short while later too, by another alert: this one advising us that the threatened building would be returning to "normal" at 4 pm.
Do we ever really return to normal, these days?
Well, I'd brought my bike to campus and was wondering if it would be safe to leave it overnight, in the sheltered stalls of another adjacent building. So I asked the guy in charge of campus rec's bikeshare program what he thought.
His reply was delayed just long enough for the alert system to try and terrify us once more.
This time it was an armed robbery, in the close proximity of Peck Hall -- where I was going to leave the bike. Where we'd just queued up the day before to take turns reading the Constitution, celebrating freedom. "Leave the area immediately," alerted the alarming voice in my phone.
No self-respecting thief would ever raise a weapon to acquire my beat-up old Raleigh. But it's still unsettling to realize that the quotidian space we swim so blithely through, whose security we typically take for granted day in and day out, is also claimed by violent would-be assailants. Or even just by immature kids who who find it amusing to disrupt the lives and educations of their peers.
So I needed to get away. Took my bike out to Stones River before class yesterday, had a great ride around the old battlefield followed by a pacifying creekside picnic. It was reassuring, and restorative. I recommend it. So does Uncle Albert.