Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Devil Uses Master Lock

When I moved with my family from Kansas City to St. Louis in 1989, I found myself with a new identity, and a mild nuisance.

About halfway through my senior year, some joker started writing "666" on my locker. I would wipe it off, and the writing would return: "Satan" or "666." I'm not sure what inspired the epithet. As a target of bullying, I've heard and experienced much worse. But I wondered if this was the prelude to something more dastardly, and so I went to a counselor about it.

"We're moving you to another locker," he said without hesitation, snarling beneath his voice. "There's no excuse for that kind of harassment."

Within minutes, he had assigned me to a clean locker. The writing ceased.

Then I few weeks later, I saw this above the lock: "You can run, but you can't hide from SATAN!"

I couldn't win. But at least it stopped with the words. I never did find the culprit, although I did catch somebody saying as I passed in the hall, "There's Lucifer right there."

In middle school, somebody learned my locker combination. Blessedly, he didn't pilfer my goods, so comparatively speaking, I was ahead. I also didn't share the locker with anybody else, so I didn't have to worry about putting them through the muck.

Once in middle school, some girl accidentally dropped her math book in my locker while the door was open and didn't realize it. I thought it belonged to my locker partner and didn't touch it. She ended up paying for it when she thought it was lost for good. Then I picked it up, realizing I really didn't actually have a locker partner at all, and found out it was hers. She nearly wrung my neck.

Nowadays, because lockers can be used to hide all sorts of mischief including incendiary devices, schools are disabling them and making kids haul their books around. Apparently, an aching back is better than a smoking pile of rubble.

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