This is the third part of a tale of education, the government, and rats…for the first and second parts, check the previous posts.
“So You’re Lisa!”
Harmless enough, right? Except I heard that phrase at least a dozen times yesterday afternoon. And it made me really uncomfortable – but I recognize my comfort level here isn’t really of any sort of importance.
I was invited on a walk-through of the school that I’ve previously discussed yesterday. I’m pretty sure I was invited because I seem to have turned into a bit of a mouth-piece and, well, what else could they do? None-the-less, I appreciated the invitation, but wasn’t sure what to expect.
Would I run into Bigboy and Hunchback? God I hope not!
Would the conditions of the building, up close and personal, make me cry? Can’t be seen as weak!
Was this all just a ruse by the government and lure me out and make me disappear? Well, this is Washington…not unheard of possibility…crap…
But I went…lots of questions…right until I arrived on-site.
The first thing I saw was a significant grounds-crew working outside. I burst out laughing and said to my father (who tagged along…probably to keep me from that government-conspiracy-type kidnapping) “I got $20 that says things are a lot different today than they were a week ago!” He laughed and refused the bet.
He’s no fool.
We went inside and a couple of people looked at us, trying to figure out who we were I’m sure, since we were just about the only ones not wearing government-issued credentials, but we just slipped quietly off to a side.
Everyone seemed really upbeat and optimistic, and we overheard one person talking about how many resources had been given to the school in the last few days.
Ain’t that interesting??
But I said nothing.
On tour we went. The building was indeed a hotbed of activity and repairs. Floors where concrete had been missing were patched. The smell of fresh paint was a bit dizzying. There were what appeared to be BRAND NEW air conditioners lined up in the gymnasium, waiting for installation. They told us about their list – their 8-page list (that I’ve been promised a copy of in the coming days) – that will be at least 90% completed by SUNDAY night – 3 days from the walkthrough. Because, afterall, Summer School begins on Monday.
What the what now??
OK, I’m going to pause from my discussion on what happened at the walkthrough with an aside.
I had no clue they were holding Summer School in this building. I suppose it makes sense – kids need Summer School sometimes. But I have to be honest…if I’d known that little tidbit before, boy would my last couple of posts have been a bit more heated.
Back to the walkthrough.
Everything they were telling us sounded great. All the bathrooms have been repaired and thoroughly cleaned – including new soap, toilet paper and feminine hygiene dispensers being installed, locker rooms fixed up and made available, new fire extinguishers, radiators repaired, weight room underway, and my favorite: two 12.5 ton Air conditioners are being delivered Monday to bring A/C to the auditorium. Oh how I love a big old A/C unit…seriously…the one in my office has a nickname…Thor…and he’s tiny in comparison weighing in at only two tons.
But wait…what about the vermin??
Well, we were told that by the end of the day, all exterior holes of the building would be filled with mortar, all window wells would be sealed, metal plates would be installed under the lockers, and a new extermination team would be in the building.
I won’t lie – have you ever seen the show Billy the Exterminator? Because that’s what kind of popped into my head.
They explained that sealing the entrances/exits for crawling things would keep new ones out and lock old ones in. Then it would take a little time to eradicate the problem.
That’s nice…except…there’s still some rat poop in the cafeteria, a small roach ran across our path in the hall, and as one gentleman pointed out for some reason they had laid out mouse traps when the issue isn’t fuzzy little mice, it’s howler-monkey-sized, shiv-making, will-cut-you-if-you-cross-them Rats.
They thanked him for pointing that out and assured us that the new exterminators would be using the right equipment.
I hope so – because a city rat whose foot gets caught on a sticky trap will find himself a second trap and call them new shoes. I hate crawling things.
Pushing that aside, I can’t lie – it was wonderful! Listening to everything they said, seeing everything they showed almost made me want to attend Summer School.
Ok, that might be a stretch, but you get my meaning.
There’s just one thing…
I couldn’t help but to wonder – was all this already planned and in the works, or did the little bit of community uproar make money suddenly appear, workers suddenly get hired and a plan suddenly formulated?
Does it even matter?
What matters is that the children get a facility they can learn and thrive in – ESPECIALLY those who have to take Summer School for the love of Jerry McGuire!
What matters is that our city leadership is being held accountable.
What matters is that they continue to follow through on the promises they’ve made – with the realization that “big brother” may watch constantly, but they’ve got nothing on the eyes and ears of little old ladies in the neighborhood and the school’s Alumni association (now they seem like a force to be reckoned with!).
What matters is our kids.
There’s something else to think about here, something that is still bothering me – how was this allowed to happen? The state of disrepair that this building fell into, that our children were subjected to, this didn’t happen overnight. Or over one school year.
The building that my hooligan’s school is in is in need of repairs – it’s old, the HVAC often operates at extremes and we are currently doing our own battle with the powers that be because it’s modernization keeps getting put off (hey city folk – if you’re reading this, HINT, HINT, HINT). However, it is NOTHING like Roosevelt at MacFarland was. So what happened to that facility? And more importantly what is the city going to do to make sure children are never subjected to that again?
Maybe our citizenry will realize that they have to SAY SOMETHING without fear of backlash in order to get something done.
Maybe our government will become more in tune to needs on a low level and this kind of outcry will become unnecessary.
HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!
That was funny.
It’s possible though I suppose.
Here’s the thing – I don’t mind our government’s games. They make for good entertainment. What I mind is bad things happening to children and the elderly – those are my 2 soft spots. I expect false smiles and promises of the moon, with the occasional genuine elected official who is too new to have been beaten into submission yet by the system (I love a new politician!). I expect sudden action, followed by inaction. But I also expect my fellow citizens to do as the federal government tells us – See Something Say Something!
Our voices matter. United together they matter a great deal. The government is here to work FOR us – in theory at least. So let’s hold them to that.
I never intended to be the voice of anything. I didn’t expect to walk into a building and when I said my name during introductions have every head whip around to look at me. To hear “Oh you’re Lisa” so many times. To be pulled aside by multiple people who were nervous to be seen talking to me (seriously folk, I’m 5’ 2” and I bake cookies and make Rainbow Cakes and write romance novels and poetry…not exactly Chuck Norris material here). But what I realized is my voice is pretty strong. My words can have influence.
So. Can. Yours.
See something, say something.
Don’t be afraid.
Perhaps all the work being done was already planned. Perhaps not. Perhaps they invited me to the walkthrough just so I’d write this very article touting all their great work. Perhaps they just wanted to show me that it is getting better. Perhaps they want me to shut up already.
I’ll never know, nor do I care.
So long as Bigboy and Hunchback have sung their swan song and left the building.
I would like to take a moment to sincerely thank all of the citizens who wrote to our civic leadership, made phone calls, spread the word, and sent me notes of support. As they say – a single snowflake is an insignificant thing, but when they get together…Snowmageddon! Or something like that…