Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Paranoia In The Classroom

For those that don't know, I'm a student at the University of Texas at Arlington. My employer gives me a little wiggle room in my daily schedule so that I may attend classes. Today, my schedule, as well as I, was shaken.

When I woke up, campus was closed and the hunt was on for a suspected gunman. I applauded the Dallas and Arlington and campus police departments for working together to proactively keep students safe. I commented on Google+: "If this is a hoax or bad information, it is good practice. If it is true, lives are being saved."

Not too long after, I received an all-clear from the school's alert system; classes would resume at noon. My class this summer starts at 12:30pm. I had not heard anything as to why - was the suspect in custody? Was it found to be a hoax? Was there no evidence to support the tip?

I arrived on campus and got a coveted front parking space. The lot was pretty empty. As I sat in my car and ate a drive-thru lunch, I watched a few more cars trickle in. Some students looked nervous, some looked exhausted, and some looked like they had no cares in the world. I watched each and every one of them with suspicious eyes. You see a lot of 'in plain sight' killers in the movies; it was scarily easy to picture more than a few of them with some form of weapon hidden on their body, in their clothes, and within easy reach inside bags.

I mentally slapped myself and gathered my things for the walk to class. For once, I was happy with my over large sunglasses (bought for function, not form [ie fashion]) and the fact that I could hide and be paranoid suspicious of everyone as I walked in the wide open quadrangle and between buildings. I felt like a bunny watching for the hawk. I made notes of what type of bullet proof cover was available, what doors were within sprinting distance, what shields existed along my route, and calculated my survival chances with each. I noticed that inside the building, on this empty day, my chances of survival were far slimmer than being outside - all of the doors were shut and locked, all lights were out, and I would be a sitting duck in a long hallway. It was not a comforting thought. Even the elevator gave me no hope; while there was a 'close door' button, there was no 'emergency stop' pull, so I wouldn't be able to stop the elevator between floors, away from any intruders (like I said, I explored pretty much every option).

Class was short, as days without labs are, but we were all jumpy. I thought about my seating choice (front row, center) momentarily before sitting, but decided a change wouldn't really do any good in a class so tiny. I'm small enough that I could probably just slip under the table and be fine, though.

I spent my time on campus learning what life with paranoia would be like. It was surprisingly not that difficult. That may, however, say more about me than I care to admit, though. When I returned to work, a coworker said the entire ordeal had made the news (finally), but wanted more information - according to him, it was bare bones facts. I looked it up, relating the only information that I knew had been provided by UTA, and found this short piece from the Dallas Morning News (see below). It was comforting to see that a concerned friend made the call to 911 about the suicidal man. I won't go so far as to call that person a hero, but s/he did the right thing.

News Link:

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Purchased an iPad. Testing the Blogger app. :)

Seems to be easy to follow and pick up. Should make it easier to get back to blogging....