Of Cheetos and Scriptos

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Our school was broken into TWICE this passed weekend.

Folks, as educators, we often don’t realize how much our schools are truly like our second homes until something like this happens. When I checked my email and saw our principal’s message that we’d be burglarized, I immediately started worrying about the library. I got there early this morning and two of my favorite teachers met me before I got in the door good. See, I have a bit of a reputation as being, shall we say, wrapped tighter than a banjo string most of the time. The two ladies told me to take a deep breath and go on in, but not to take my shoes off. (See, grocery store feet! It’s the best)

Well, I have to be honest and say it wasn’t as bad as I’d set myself up for. The copier / coffee / lounge / workroom was an absolute wreck and it was the worst spot that I was responsible for. The brand new, huge Pepsi machine was pushed over, broken and defeated lying on the floor. Glass from the machine front covered the floor, the counter, the laminator, and just about every other flat surface. The poor vendor lay there wounded looking for all the world like a forlorn, dead, and putrefying whale carcass on a forgotten beach. Strangely enough, for all their exertions, the felons never managed to breach the money box of the machine. I’m sure the old girl felt a measure of pride that even though she was broken, bloodied, and battered, she had held on to her entrusted charge . . . or change as the case may be.

The snack machine wasn’t so lucky. The front was smashed out, adding to the glass piled around. This poor soldier’s fortress had been breached and his change box lay bent and twisted on the floor, empty. Strangely, all the malefactors seemed to be chocolate freaks. No snacks were taken from the machine if they did not have chocolate in them. Filthy buggers must have had a sweet tooth.

One area of small levity in the midst of the mayhem lay in the disposition of the laminator. Our venerable but hale old 25″ laminator had run out of film almost at the end of the day the preceding Friday. Since I had snatched one too many blisters on my fingers and hands trying to thread the grand old lady while her heat was up, I’ve since made it my practice to let the heat shoes cool completely before rethreading. Well, I’d taken the rolls off and set them to the side in anticipation of rethreading the machine this morning first thing. Apparently, the investigating officers mistook my preparations for vandalism because the entire machine was COATED with fingerprint graphite. The old cardboard tubes were black as those delinquents’ hearts. It took some elbow grease, but I’m happy to say my lovely lady is back running smoothly . . . still streaking some sheets with graphite, but running smoothly.

I went to my office and thought everything was fine there until I scratched the blood out of my hand on my door handle. The cretins had used a hammer to strike the door handle at an angle so it broke the lock pins. I was certain a scene of devastation awaited me inside.

Well, it didn’t. What did great me was a floor full of Cheetos crumbs. I keep a box of crackers and chips and other wonderfully healthy snacks on the bottom shelf of one of my bookshelves in case I forget my lunch. The bastards had eaten all my Cheetos! ALL FOUR BAGS! I was indignant. I mean a Pepsi machine is one thing, but some things ought to be sacred in the world and a man’s Cheetos stash happens to be high on that list.

My office was in relatively good order other than the crumbs all over the floor. They had gone through my desk and taken four of my brand new permanent markers . . . the good kind from the multicolored pack. The bastards took my PURPLE SCRIPTO!! These boys had no shame. Of course, I was thankful for two things: 1) that I’d left my desk unlocked so they didn’t feel the need to tear my desk apart like the did some others and 2) that I didn’t have any money in the office. I have to confess that a cold chill snaked down my spine when I thought about the fact that I start my fall book fair this coming Thursday and had the break-in occured next Saturday, they little heathens could have made off with a lot more than my Cheetos . . . as if that wasn’t enough.

Of course I had to take a quick inventory and I discovered that everything was where it was supposed to be with just a few exceptions. They had taken my tool bag with all my tools, including the diagnostic meters I use to work on network cables, and they had taken my two 4GB thumb drives off my desk. The bastards took MY THUMB DRIVES. There was a $3000 Sony HD video camera sitting on the desk NEXT to the thumb drives and the thumb drives were sitting atop a BRAND NEW STATE OF THE ART LAPTOP. They passed up an EASY $5K to take my thumb drives, my bag of tools, and, lest we forget, my whole bloody stash of Cheetos.

In another somewhat lighthearted moment, the goobers had actually taken the time to stop by our A/V room and pull up the PowerPoint presentation that runs our announcements and a clock on the building distribution system. They had actually typed messages — rather foul messages at that — on the announcements and started up the slide show to run through the building. So they were heathens and miscreants, but they were computer literate heathens and miscreants.

The rest of the building was in similar trim. Glass shattered, desks riffled, food taken and eaten, but nothing major missing. It was almost as if they were more intent on vandalism and general mischief than really stealing stuff. Looking back, I can’t help but think we as a school were lucky and I as a librarian was unbelievably blessed and lucky that my area wasn’t in much worse shape.

Had those boys been so inclined, it would have been the work of a slight few minutes at most to take the same hammer they used on the Pepsi machine and smash every one of the 54 computer monitors in the library and lab. They could have pulled every book off the shelf and left them in heaps on the floor. All of the equipment I’m responsible for is still intact and in the building. Truthfully, I can’t say why. Were I their age and angry as they obviously were, I can’t see not taking small and expensive things and leaving a little more glass on the floor.

So the rest of the day was eerie. I didn’t feel quite right in my office. I told Sonia, our most excellent guidance counselor about it and she said it was because we’d been violated. Someone strange had run their hands through our stuff without our permission and now everything was tainted in some way. It’s a sickening feeling and one I hope no one reading this ever has to endure.

In closing, I found out towards the end of the day that the local constabulary had four suspects in custody.  I called our SRO and told him to look for one with orange fingers; if he found one, please bring him to me.

I want to talk to him concerning a certain purple marker.

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2 responses »

  1. I had a similar experience at my campus several years ago. We encountered much the same type of damage that you described…broken windows, snack machine & coke machine attacked, and the front office ransacked. The library, which is directly across the hall, was thankfully, undisturbed, although our ‘guests’ had attempted to break out one of the front windows. Fortunately, they were unsuccessful. My response was very similar to yours, as well….considering what the vandals could have done, we were very lucky to have escaped with mostly minor damage. But to have lost 4 bags of Cheetos, two thumb drives, and your purple Scripto in one fell swoop? Unthinkable!

  2. Boy! So sorry to hear about the vandalism at your school. I’m glad you could write about the experience with some humor. I’d say you’re coping well. You are indeed fortunate that the culprits didn’t do more damage in the library. Some time before I took over at my school’s library, students broke into the library, took a fire extinguisher, and sprayed the reference section! I sure would have hated to have to deal with that cleanup! So, I guess, I’d say keep looking on the bright side.

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