Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

THE END OF THE WORLD
I found it a bit ironic that on May 21, the day that some people said the world was going to end, or the beginning of the end would begin, I was in my last training class for the Community Emergency Response Team. This was week three of learning how to be prepared in case of a disaster, and I was feeling confident as I made my way to the RTD (Regional Transit District) headquarters to receive my certificate and backpack.
The security guard at the front desk is in charge of giving us all “visitor” stickers to put on our chest, and this morning he greeted me with “what number do you want to be?” A little odd, considering we usually just write out name on the sticker.
“Thirteen,” I said. He scribbled a number and handed me my pass. The number 13 was not written on it, instead it was something like 00001101. I looked at him curiously.
“I’m practicing my binary numbers,” he said.
I still looked at him curiously.
“I get bored sitting here, so I try to come up with something to keep my mind busy. Recently I’ve been working on binary numbers.” He explained how the zeroes and ones on my tag translated to 13. I found his declaration amusing, mostly because I’ve been known to do simple little things to shake up my day.
“I’ve trained myself to use my mouse with my left hand,” I told him. “It’s rough at first but its supposed to activate the right side of your brain.”
He liked the suggestion, and went on to tell me how he should try it because he gets carpal tunnel in his right hand, and sitting at the desk all day makes his brain deteriorate. I felt like I had done my bit of good to help the world already, and it wasn’t even 8 a.m.
The morning portion of the class included learning about terrorists, and how they work. Honestly I was getting scared to go out in public again, especially using mass transit, after seeing slides of buses and trains that had been blown up. But then we learned about safety measures, which includes laying down if a suicide bomber present himself, since the bombs have a tendency to explode up and out. Which, incidentally, according to the horrible show Manswers, laying down is also your best bet to survive if you’re in an elevator that’s freefalling. Well that just made me feel much better.
The afternoon portion included boarding a bus and train, where we learned about safety exits, including how to actually stop a train in its tracks, but we’re not really supposed to do that. When the class was finished we were issued our official backpacks, which included a multi use tool, a hard hat, a special vest identifying us as a CERT member, flashlight and gloves. Which made me feel a little better about being prepared, but as I proudly sported my new pack and walked the 16th street mall home, I was haunted by the most important aspect of the class. How do you judge whether or not someone is bad?
I’ve spent the last several months in my new, diverse environment, trying to shed my pre-conceived ideas and beliefs about different types of people. I’ve tried to turn off my judgemental senses, and try to embrace those around me. Now I looked around me at the hundreds of people strolling the mall. Many of them had backpacks, some of them were of different nationalities, some were obviously down on their luck. Which of these people could hate us, Americans? Which of these people could possibly be plotting nefarious activities to destroy us? And who was I to judge?

May 23, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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