Words from Dic(tionary)
Alarm: (n) 1. an anxious awareness of danger 2. the sound or warning of imminent danger
Do they still call it a fire drill?
I’m not sure.
When I was a kid, about every six or seven weeks, the school bell rang uncontrollably, and we were told to rise from our seats, get into single file and march out of the building into the awaiting parking lot in anticipation of what could have been a fire breaking out.
Of course, we all knew it was just a drill. A practice, if you will. But it was still a bit alarming to hear the bell, and delightful to be able to escape the world of desks, pens, paper and droning “teacher voices,” to go outside for a few minutes with your friends.
Of course, in the adult world, they had plans set in place to rectify that potential for pleasure.
You had to remain silent.
This was the same thing you were cautioned to do when standing in line for the cafeteria, gathering for an assembly or even finding your path to the bathroom.
I realize now that we were never in danger of fire. And I’m not being critical of the craft of preparation. I understand it thoroughly and agree with the premise.
But the alarming part of the process of leaving our school, considering the potential for a blazing inferno, was actually the fact that we were taught to be non-social.
- Couldn’t talk in class.
- Couldn’t talk in the cafeteria.
- And couldn’t talk on the way to the fire drill.
And then we wonder why human beings grow up sheltered, protected, suspicious and just downright cranky. After all, we’re not about to let our offspring chum with one another when we were forbidden to do so.
Yes, I would say the most alarming thing about hearing the alarm bell tell us to go to a fire drill, considering the alarming possibility of a burning school, was the fact that we weren’t allowed to be human and interactive.
I guess that’s true all over the world. I’m sure Chinese people discourage chattiness in their children just like Americans quell such outbursts. But I wonder if we lose something by being too alarmed.
Don’t we sacrifice the child-like instinct to enjoy ourselves, believe for the best and want to whisper interesting things to our neighbor?