Road Rage

A parent never wants to learn that two cars were shooting it up as they raced/raged past your children’s school playground via social media.

Before you chide me with the inevitable “See, I told ya! I still can’t/never did/never will understand how you send your children to a city public school and/or remain a city of Milwaukee resident when it’s the fourth poorest city in the nation” call to action: no one was hurt.

My #2 heard the gunshots from the science room, but #1 didn’t hear anything from his classroom. Curiously enough, there was no mention of the shots fired made from either of my sons. Had I not asked Saturday morning, I don’t believe either child would’ve said anything, except perhaps in afterthought. My husband spent a few minutes studying the exterior of our Lannon stone home, looking for evidence of bullet strikes yesterday, and came up empty. We joked that the miscreants behind the wheels and triggers must’ve been expert marksmen–according to social media, MPD reported no artifacts had been found. One neighbor posted the 11:44 AM audio from his garage-mounted security camera; fourteen cracks unmistakable in their clarity. They had to have hit something. Themselves? Their cars?

No one at school was injured, the loss of innocence maybe the only casualty. I don’t even know what to do with the fact that gunshots heard in school didn’t even warrant a casual mention from either of my sons.  They both were outside hanging out yesterday, because when the temps hit upper 40s in January, you go outside!  I didn’t go into full freak out mode, and I don’t know what to do with the fact that I’m not freaked out enough.

If social media is to be trusted, it wasn’t a targeted school shooting, apparently a road rage incident gone local, and thank stars the kids had just come in from recess. Saying “well, it wasn’t a school shooting” is not to excuse or minimize ANY VIOLENT act, nope, but to illustrate that gun-wielding idiots with sub-average executive functioning skills permeate our society, “safe” neighborhoods and less safe ones alike. But no one cares, because no one will admit that this shameful, inexcusable behavior could happen LITERALLY in their backyard–it’s always in “those” neighborhoods among “those” people. And apparently we need our own personal arsenals to keep ourselves safe from “them.”  Well, it happened in my neighborhood, on my street.

I grew up with guns in the house; my parents and younger brother all hunters.  My ex-husband owned two handguns (which his mother ordered him to store at her house for awhile after I announced I was leaving him), yet for all the time I’ve spent with firearms in my houses, I’ve never touched a gun.  I don’t understand the allure. I do understand that while we say “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” people are less likely kill someone with their fists than with a handgun or semi-automatic.

But this isn’t a blog about weaponry.  It’s a blog about being a parent whose kid has a shit disease.  A disease that renders him slow and clumsy and an easy target.  He got lucky this time; they all did.

I started another assignment at a new school Monday. This is one of the windows in my new classroom, the one right behind my head when I’m sitting at my desk–and yes, it’s in one of “those” neighborhoods, so it’s OK, right? And sure, it’s only probably BB pellets, so whatevs, “those” people don’t mind or don’t deserve safe environs.

I sent this photo to a group of my friends, and one of the girls responded by telling me that before her office moved, she found a gun alongside a stash of cocaine in the bushes outside her workplace.   It’s not just here, and it’s not just now.  I didn’t understand it then, nor do I now, and I sure as heck have no solutions to replace violence on this earth with peace in its stead.  My little mantra, be kinder than is necessary, seems to fall short and on deaf ears.  But still, do that: be kinder than is necessary, that is.  It’s a start anyway.

9 thoughts on “Road Rage

  1. Just curious Wendy- what are the top 3 poorest districts? I will let you know the stats of my new one when I get there- the government’s hurry up and wait policy applies to civilian workers as well as soldiers so waiting for my moving day with anticipation! Much love and stay safe- and keep your eyes on swivel! 😘

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    • Hey G–I don’t know which metrics are used, but my fourth poorest statistic came from the book Evicted, talking about the city as a whole, not the public school district specifically. I would imagine Detroit tops that list, and other large cities like Baltimore and Philly are up there for cities; I could well believe that MKE is one of the poorest city school districts. With school choice and vouchers tearing away at public schools funding, demonstrating often equal or worse results on tests just as an aside, the state of schools is not improving. But you can’t change the schools without changing the social issues underlying the schools, so. . . here we are.

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  2. God, life is getting so much more dangerous. I live in a very small town, but I have to live in Toronto during the week. A couple of weeks ago, the police arrested a serial killer who’d been preying on men in the neighbourhood just a couple of blocks from mine. It was a very scary time, especially when they realized that all the cases were linked and that it was the same guy who confessed to all of them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is horrifying! I am not exaggerating when I say that reading this gave me full-body goose bumps. There is not one ounce of my makeup that can understand how a person’s brain can be flooded with such aberrant thinking. I’m glad for the safety of everyone that the perpetrator (OK, mass murderer) was captured, but glad isn’t quite the right word. Glad you and one of my favorite cities are safe from this man!

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  3. Pingback: In Vain | Greater Than Gravity

  4. So many of the movies I grew up on — that inspired me to be a writer — are stories that I could in no way now write myself (and can barely stand to watch any longer) because of how casually violent they are. I don’t understand the appeal of guns, either, Wendy; they have no place in my life, and as little presence or function as possible in my fiction.

    Boy, when I think about all the angst of growing up, and going to high school, it’s like Happy Days in comparison to the pervasive gun violence kids nowadays live with. Glad this incident turned out to be “nothing.” Hope it doesn’t repeat.

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    • Thank you, Sean, and obviously, I hope the same–that it never happens again. I vividly remember being angst-y as a high schooler, but I have no memory of ever having felt threatened or unsafe. I wonder though if sometimes, because we learn about every, single event via social media and/or apps like “Neighborhood,” if the violence is higher or if we are just hearing about it immediately through the ease of technology. I suppose that isn’t relevant–we have here and now to make things right and good. And safe. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with reveling in the memories of our naive teen selves. When can we expect the book?? I am so looking forward to reading it!

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      • That’s a great question: Do these things happen more frequently… or do we simply hear about more of them, more often, on account of social media? I don’t know the answer. But as you said: It’s probably irrelevant either way.

        Hey, thanks for the interest in (and support for) the book! I’m putting it through one final proofread, and then I’m officially on the hunt to see if I can’t get it set up somewhere. It’s an exciting, uncertain time. I’ll say this: I’m happy with the material, and eager to “let it go.” I guess it’s like raising a child: You do the best you can with it, and then release it into the world and hope for the best. For sure I’ll let you know what’s happening with the project as soon as I know…

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