Monday, March 31, 2008

Loaded, but Unlocked

I remember being a kid, really I do. I especially remember being a middle schooler, which is convenient when I need to access the absolute lack of logic that rules in the 'tween years.

I remember, for example, when I was in 6th grade and it became clear to me that someone was stealing from me during P.E. class while we were out on the field or court. I recall money going missing from the front pocket of my backpack in the locker room. And I remember the novelty of trying to determine what was once there by virtue of what was now not. I was pretty sure, for example, that I had a lot more pens before. And now someone was stealing my money, and probably some pens. Of course it took a couple of times of No Lunch Money before I recognized the pattern as Theft versus Loss.

And of course, none of these occurrences or missing items resulted in me discontinuing my practice of Not Locking My Locker. We had a locker room, and we each had a locker. And I put my stuff in that locker, and I put a combination lock on the locker.

But I Did Not Lock the Lock.

Because, you see, Unlocking a Locked Lock took up precious time at the end of P.E. class when I could have been brushing my hair so as to look hot for math class. (Of course I didn't take a shower. I never saw our middle school locker room showers wet, in fact).

Not even money missing from my backpack made me experiment with, say, LOCKING MY LOCKER. But I did talk my P.E. teacher into letting me stake out my locker while the rest of the class went out to play Capture the Flag, which is how I caught the girl who was a Non-Suit Grit* stealing from my locker. Never had I been so freaked out in my short life, catching a peer-turned-thief, red-handed, taking my stuff. And never before have I felt more like a Goody-Two-Shoe Narc as when I turned her in.

And though I could ask myself again why the heck I didn't lock my locker (DUH!), I see our students at my high school drop their backpacks IN THE MIDDLE OF THE QUAD, in piles by trash cans, and leave them there as they walk off campus to go get lunch. I suppose they take their wallets with them, as they need their money for food. But I know they leave iPods in backpacks, because we've had some stolen right there in front of all of us. I even had a student indignantly report a theft from his abandoned backpack to me one day, only to see him attempt to leave his backpack there again the next day. When I made him wear it on his four-block walk to lunch, you would have thought I was Zeus, handing the rock back to Sisyphus for yet another trip up the hill.

And then there are the unlocked lockers. I'm not the only middle school graduate who doesn't lock her locker. There are plenty more where I came from.

I was following up on a theft from an unlocked P.E. locker today with one of our gym teachers and he said, "Well, you know what we tell these kids about protecting their stuff: A LOCKER without a LOCK is just an -ER."

*Likely to be seen smoking cigarettes at the park behind the library, across from school.

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