Thursday, January 6, 2011

GRIM DAYS IN THE LIBRARY

          The first day of winter break one of our senior boys was killed in a car accident, along with his father.  It was around 5 am on Saturday, they were on their way to a speech and debate competition, and a drunk 18-year-old with only a learner's permit ran a red light and plowed into them.  Both father and son were pronounced dead at the scene, but of course the drunk who killed them was unharmed.
          The boy who died was a great kid who seemed genuinely nice and humble, and excelled at everything.  What happened was awful, and shouldn't happen to anyone, but he was so well-loved by the entire student body and faculty who knew him that it really sent shock waves through the whole school community.  I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like for his mother and sister, to lose both of them at once.  They were so stunned and unprepared for it that our principal and assistant principal had to help them plan and organize the funeral.  A Memorial Fund was also set up because the family (mother and sister) really need help now.  The father had recently cancelled his life insurance, and on top of that I heard he was the family's only source of income.
Oxford Academy Boosters Inc. - 
Douglas Uselton Memorial Fund
c/o Oxford Academy
5172 Orange Avenue
Cypress, CA 90630
          Our first day back to work we had an emergency staff meeting so our admin could debrief us on what happened and bring us up to speed, as far as fund-raisers and crisis response.  I found out about the tragedy the day after it happened from students on Facebook, but some of the teachers I spoke to were unaware until the emergency meeting was called.  We were introduced to a team of crisis counselors (about 6 or so) who have been here for the past two days.
           Since the counselors needed somewhere to meet quietly with kids, they're using the library and we've had to cancel two days of class visits, and keep it closed except for before and after school.
          It's been an awkward two days, with me trying to work around the counselors and grieving students.  The librarian hasn't been here, so they're using her office to meet with some kids, but that's also where I have my coffee pot and the refrigerator and microwave.  My breaks have been tricky.
          They are also meeting with kids at the back of the library, in two little reading nook areas we have set up on each side.  This morning I was trying to get some of the shelving done, which had majorly piled up since a ton of books were returned right after winter break.  But it felt weird creeping around in the stacks and trying not to eavesdrop on the students behind the shelves.  I could hear them talking quietly and crying.  It was making me nervous, and I kept fumbling the books I was shelving, dropping a few of them noisily.  I felt like an asshole, so I just said, "Fuck it," (to myself) and slinked back to my desk.  This is a very SMALL library, so it's hard to be inconspicuous and out of the way.
          I waited until the counselors were between sessions, and then quickly shelved the stuff closest to those reading nooks.
          To make things thoroughly miserable in here, the air conditioning is out of control and it's FREEZING.  Totally arctic.  It's a typical institutional set-up, so the air is usually blasting on cold days, and in the heat of summer it hardly works at all.  I don't usually feel the cold so much, because I move around a lot.  But right now I'm pretty much confined to my desk.  And I'd normally be playing my iPod in its little blue docking station at my desk, but I feel I probably shouldn't do that while there's grief counseling going on in here.  
          So...  I'm sitting here freezing in silence and trying to find stuff to do at my desk.
          I thought maybe I could use this time to explore the website for ALA Midwinter, which is this weekend, to figure out which things I want to make sure to see, but the school district's internet crapped out.  It's practically unusable right now.
          So here I sit, knowing that my ridiculously minor complaints pale in comparison to what that poor family is going through, wondering how it must feel to be so blind-sided by tragedy, and returning to my minor complaints because at least it's something else to think about.

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