Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bomb Threat

When we (meaning me and Brad Carter) were in about 4th grade cordless telephones were just barely getting to be affordable for general use. I don't mean those primitive cell phones that you had to lug around in a box. I just mean land line telephones that lived in your house but were not physically attached to the base with a long curly leash. (that makes me sound old)(how cool) My parents did not buy one for at least a decade, literally, I am sure. The reasoning behind that went something like : "How would you like to have to look all over the house for the phone every time you needed to use it?" (Mom and Dad also did not own a microwave until I was 15 or so, they drove the same car for the first 14 years of my life, they did not own a TV until I was 24, and as I write, they are thinking maybe someday they might look into having the internet in their home.)

Brad's parents, on the other hand, were the first people I ever heard to own a cordless phone. It was a big deal.

Brad and I lived on the same block. The elementary school we went to was the next block over diagonally. (its been knocked down since- victory at last). Brad's house was a house and a parking lot away from the street corner we shared with the school.

Each classroom had a small typed (yes TYPED- probably mimeographed too) notice posted by the door. It contained mostly gibberishy information and was intended only for adults and teachers. We only noticed this notice (ahem) because when recess time came the teacher always made us line up by the door before we could leave. So while we waited for the rest of the kids to form ranks, we had nothing to do but read whatever happened to be taped up by the door.

There was only one thing interesting on the notice and it went something like this:

"In the event of Fire, Earthquake, Tornado, Extreme cold, Snow, Natural Disaster or Bomb threat, all classes will be Cancelled". (emphasis added)

Brad realized that we had the power to create at least two of the items on the list. Also, he needed to test the potential of his parents new cordless phone.

One day he wore a jacket to school, weather not withstanding. In the inner pocket of that jacket, he revealed to me at recess, he had smuggled in the new phone. His plan was to go to the corner of the playground nearest to his house and see if how good the range of this phone was. If it worked out we could spend our recess time making prank calls. We could even prank the school from school. The irony seemed thick at the time. But Brad also thought it would be a good idea to use the phone to make a bomb threat and see if we got out of class for the day.

We hunkered down in the corner of the playground. Brad hunched his jacket up over his head so no one could see him talking on the phone. He dialed the principal's office. The reception was terrible, but he did raise the secretary.

I guess we didn't know much about how these things are supposed to be done. What he said was something along the lines of : " Uh, yes, "(in his best, deep, adult voice) "Yes, hello, I'm calling to make a bomb threat."

And then either the connection cut out, or he hung up in fear, or my excitement level spiked so hard that it wiped out my memory. I don't think we got any further with the call than that.

Anticlimactically, nothing happened. It'd be different today of course, but either the secretary didn't understand us through the static, or else nobody took the idea of a 9 year old with a bomb all that seriously back then.