22 March 2015


A very long time ago (I realize I'm not really old enough to say that. But it was many major life transitions ago, so the phrase feels appropriate.) I had a campus security job.  I worked on a campus where students were accustomed to compliance, and my assignment was in the library.  One of the reasons I enjoyed the job was because it was significantly less stressful than my previous employment.  Our biggest emergencies usually happened during finals week.  They would usually involve students who would spend all day in the library studying, forget to eat, and then pass out when they stood up to use the bathroom.  The crisis could generally be resolved with some apple juice and a graham cracker.  Now that I think about it, many a crisis in raising three young children is averted in exactly the same manner.

Occasionally a backpack or wallet would be stolen from a computer lab.  Other than that, the job was extremely low key.  The University did have extensive and expensive special collections which is why library security was even a job.  And it was a very fun very relaxed job.  The most intense regular assignment was walking through the library at closing time to wake the sleeping studiers and tell them it was time to leave.  My secret fear was always that I would find a dead person tucked away in a study carol somewhere.  People would fall asleep in the library all the time.  It didn't seem all that far-fetched that someone might have a heart attack and die.  Everyone who walked by all day would just assume the person was napping and leave them alone.  Then I would be left to wake them up only to discover they were dead.  In my mind this always happened in the farthest corner of the lowest basement and always after the main lights had been turned off.  

When I wasn't working the closing shift, my job was basically care free.  However, I did have a coworker who seemed to have a difficult time differentiating between library security and the Secret Service.  To him everything was ultra high intensity.  Someone forgot to stop by circulation and check out their books on the way out?  He would chase them down, and interrogate them like it was part of some deep assassination plot.  Someone tried to bring Jamba Juice into the library?  He would be sure to use his whistle, authoritatively declare the library's no food policy, and issue a written reprimand.  Sometimes I secretly wished he would encounter a dead person during the closing sweep.  It might be entertaining to see how he would handle it.  

One day I was working in the control room (our fancy, self important name for the place where we would eat our lunches and watch security cameras to monitor the elderly librarians in the special collections vaults.  And occasionally reset the fire alarms.)  Mr. Secret Service was just outside the door at the front desk actively scouring the crowd of harried students searching for potential threats.  In the periphery of my awareness I heard someone come up to the desk and talk to him.  He turned around and ran the three steps into the control room and breathlessly declared, "We have an emergency!"  I briefly considered the possibility that my shift that day might be eventful.  The he shouted, "Get me a Band-aid. STAT!"  I burst out laughing.  He looked confused and slightly irritated.  He didn't agree with my assessment when I told him, as I handed him our first aid kit, "any problem a Band-aid can solve is not an emergency."

When it comes to Band-aids I am still pretty cold and heartless.  And super cheap.  Normally I totally embrace the placebo effect in parenting and harness it to my benefit.  But I simply refuse to give my kids unessesary bandages.  They ask frequently, and I always say no.  I've explained repeatedly that Band-aids are only useful when blood is involved. If they want a Band-aid, I have to see blood.  They are starting to get it.  Now requests for Band-aids are quickly followed by, "Look.  I have blood."

A few days ago my oldest little redhead had a bloody nose.  It wasn't a big deal, and we got it stopped fairly quickly.  He had friends over, so he wanted to go back to playing immediately.  I didn't notice that he had gotten some blood on the back of his hands.  About an hour later he came to me.  "Mama, I just need a Band-aid for my hand.  Look there is blood."