"If you read my posts about Emma and her talent show adventure, there was sort of a post script to the whole Talent Show escapade that "helped". I was thinking about blogging it, but meh. . .First, you should know that my daughter didn't really hope one of the kids would drop dead and she'd get the last spot. At least that's what my lengthy interrogation appears to have turned up.
One of the judges approached her at school the day after they announced who made it and asked if Emma had. When Emma told her "no" she looked surprised and then checked through her notes. She said, "I gave you the highest marks you could get, let me see what's going on."
She checked through her notes. I don't know how many kids made it. . . 20 or 30 or whatever, but whatever the number was. . . add 1 and there Emma sat. She's the first alternate if one of the other kids can't make it. She JUST missed out.
You'd think something like that would almost make it worse, having JUST missed, but for Emma it was as if the judges at least thought she was ALMOST there, and this judge in particular had given her the best marks. . . so it made her feel better.
Secretly I think she still hopes that one of the other kids will drop dead and she'll get that last spot."
Honestly, that last line there was my own attempt at a little stab of dark humor. Who can resist, right? But it was only a joke. I mean. . . i didn't secretly wish for something to really happen. . . right?
Do you remember the Simpson's episode where Bart is wearing corrective shoes and finally has had enough of being bullied and teased about them, kicking them off his feet and through Ned Flander's window to land in Rod and Todd's room?
Ned looks at the shoes and says, "Boys, did either of you pray for shoes?" (Ned is the Simpson's resident happy Christian).
Todd says, "I did!"
Emma's 4th grade class was second to last to file into the cafeteria for lunch. Emma had a chipped ham and pickle sandwich, one of the two types of sandwich that she'll tolerate. She took her seat with her classmates at a table on the far end of the cafeteria.
The chatter of the excited kids, drowned out the hum of the air conditioner. They took their seats and began to eat. Emma took longer than most, a side effect of her 'conversational' nature. Sometimes she didn't have time to finish her lunch before lunch was over. We used to get notes at home about it.
Today, the white noise of the lunchtime roar was broken by a sharp crack. Emma looked around for the source. It sounded like someone squeezing a cheap plastic water bottle. And that's when the duct work collapsed.
It was exposed ductwork like 'retro' restaurants utilize and Emma said later that it looked like it was just hanging from wires. I know what she means, it looks dodgy but it works. . . except when it doesn't, and then how can you ever trust it again?
The duct entered on the near side of the cafeteria where the kids walked in, ran two thirds the length of the cafeteria then made an ell and exited the cafeteria at a right angle.
The crack sounded, and Emma thought in hindsight that it was the duct itself, or maybe one of the 'wire' supports, then a large section of the tubing swung away from the wall, showering the students underneath it with condensed water before the other end collapsed. The ell crashed onto a table and a boy who Emma went to summer camp with was trapped beneath it.
There was screaming. Emma turned and saw the lunch ladies screaming for the kids to get out of the way. One of the women saw Emma's friend and she shouted "There's a boy trapped under the table", pushing her way through the crowd of now fleeing students, some screaming.
Emma ran from the cafeteria with her friends, beneath the angled overhang of dangling ductwork.
They took the kids back to their home rooms and had a "code blue" for an hour amid whispered conversation as the muffled sounds of ambulances and police dopplered in the background. A code blue, Emma later told me, means that all the students go back to their rooms and the teacher locks the door and they wait.
When I got the call my wife sounded worried. She'd heard about it on the news and couldn't get through to the school. When I eventually did get through, we decided I should pick Emma up and bring her home. Most kids parents were picking them up. All of Emma's friends, since it happened during fourth grade lunch, were being picked up.
Eight kids were hurt; four teachers, none seriously. Of the eight kids, seven were taken to the hospital, and 2 of the teachers, but I'm sure all were scared out of their minds.
Before I disconnected with my wife I said, "before I say this, I want you to know that I find this in no way funny and that YES, it is far too soon, okay?"
My wife, perhaps a bit flustered and slightly wary, said, "okay. . . "
"Do you think any of the injured students were in the talent show?"
There was a brief silence followed by mildly hysterical, uncomfortable laughter, and I told her I'd call her when I'd picked up Emma.
Emma was fine. . . maybe a little animated with adrenaline. . . we talked about her adventure and she fired words at me as quickly as I could absorb them.
I had her sketch the cafeteria for me. . .which I then annotated.
All is well. Hopefully the kiddos and teachers will be alright. . . cuts and bruises from what I've heard. (Two were in "fair" condition. . . my wife thinks that means "worse than cuts and bruises") I hope that's accurate.
Emma went to softball practice. MAN, kids are resilient.
|The actual duct|