January 5, 2008

Scared in Suburbia

I saw this sign as I was driving down the exit ramp for a highway: “My Child’s Pack – Bullet Resistant Backpacks Sold Here.” It hung on a small sporting goods store in Danvers, Massachusetts. I went back a few days later to take a picture because the sign stunned me.

I live near Danvers and for many years worked in that middle class suburban town. It is a fine little town. Why would any child in this area need a bullet resistant backpack?

I recalled a conversation that I had several years ago with a relative in California. It was August and his small children were getting ready to go back to elementary school.

I innocently inquired, “Do your kids walk to school?”

“No,” he replied, looking at me in amazement. “No kids in California walk to school. We drive them.”

Apparently too many bad things have happened to little kids in California.

I wonder if that same attitude of fear has migrated across the country to the East Coast as most trends do. I hope not. I still see kids walking and riding their bikes to school in my town.

I am hoping that the sign is an aberration. It does not look too permanent, hanging up there with duct tape. Maybe it was a quick reaction to Columbine.

I choose to believe that the Apocalypse is not upon us.

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