Sunday, March 22, 2009

Thank God for plastic…

Way back when I was in 4th grade (at the Rippowan Cisqua School), I found myself sitting in a red plastic “time out” chair in the corner of Mrs. Chappele’s English class, simply due to the youthful act of ‘passing notes.’ I was to sit there for five whole excruciating long minutes before I could be excused and allowed to return to my desk. I knew the routine. I’d been there before, but of course, not on a regular basis.

After I got over the embarrassing first minute of being laughed and sneered at by my fellow classmates, I became kind of bored. Granted, I was never some trouble-making little peanut, but I saw a pair of scissors located next to the classroom computer only inches from where I sat.

As Mrs. Chappele continued to teach her lesson, I started fidgeting with the scissors. There were a group of rubber computer chords zip-tied together that caught my eye... I thought, “Would anyone even realize if I just snipped one of these cords? Certainly nothing would REALLY happen, and the mystery of the dead computer monitor would begin - where only I would hold the answer”… The classroom 1990’s era Mac was in the powered off position and I thought, “nobody would even know.”

I began to slip one steel sheer of the orange-handled arts and craft scissors underneath one of the wires amidst a mass of others held together by the zip-tie. Never did it cross my mind that if I were to actually cut through one of these cords that anything major would happen. After all, the computer was turned off…
It had been well over five minutes and Mrs. Chappele continued on with her lesson in front of the class. She had forgotten about me, despite being only fifteen feet away from the blackboard. I tenderly squeezed down on the scissors as they cut through the first layer of rubber computer chord with ease. Just then, a HUGE purple spark illuminated the class room, accompanied by the noise of loud “zap” that filled the ears of everyone in the room! I had cut right through the cord, and with the scissors still in hand, found that everyone’s attention was right on me - sitting isolated and exposed in the “time out” chair, by the classroom computer.

It was as if my tiny world had been put on pause. There was dead silence for about ten seconds (what then seemed like eternity). Mrs. Chappele’s first concern must have been my safety. As soon as the thought had settled, she rushed over to check and see if I was ok. All twenty or so kids in the class remained silent - their eyes fixed upon me in pure shock. Of course, I still had the scissors in my hand, completely scared to death, and in disbelief of the immense purple spark that filled the classroom.

I was in the principal’s office within ten minutes of the act. My Mom got a call from Mrs. Lambert (the school principal) and I knew my action of merely snipping one little computer chord, had landed me in deep doo-doo. I can remember Mrs. Lambert asking me, “Griffin, what on earth ever possessed you to take scissors to electrical wiring?” I’m not sure with what I answered, but can remember the tears rolling down my face. Looking back on in all, I now realize that if the scissors weren’t coated with a plastic handle, I could have been seriously injured. The moral of my story is (first and foremost), think before you pass a note, and secondly.. thank God for plastic!

A few years back I hung out at a party with a few people I hadn’t seen since elementary school. After getting through the normal “Hey, how’ve you been” dialogue, I was asked, “Remember when you cut the computer cord?” For a brief moment, I basked in the glory that one of my single juvenile actions had etched its way in the minds of my former classmates’ childhood. In essence, my solitary ignorant performance had defined a whole chunk of mental real estate in the life of a former classmate. As soon as that celebrated moment of splendor had sunk in, my former classmate added, “WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?!”

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