Clear backpacks don't resolve mass shootings
That time I got suspended for carrying a weapon to school
Writer’s note: This post was originally published on Medium’s “We Need to Talk” on July 21, 2022.
I sat in my high school basement, occasionally glancing over at one student arguing with security guards. He’d already been handcuffed after getting caught with a gun and was cursing everybody out, trying to get them to just let him leave school grounds. I watched him trying to kick at school officials, making a bad situation worse. I knew this guy. He sat behind me in homeroom and dated a girl I knew from art class.
Clean cut. Handsome. Always neatly dressed. He was, however, a world-class asshole to that art class girl. Still, we would give each other a head nod on occasion, and he’d roll his eyes at my obsession with writing “Romeo” and “Immature” on the chalkboards every morning. He grudgingly admitted he liked an Immature song or two, but he didn’t get why I had such a huge crush on the crew. To me, he was more than just “that guy with the gun.” Still, I wasn’t quite surprised he was detained, considering an earlier altercation that resulted in a CTA driver sitting on him. (Long story.)
I was, however, surprised that I was down here with him — for bringing a weapon to school. I was now “the girl with the knife.” My “weapon” was a Girl Scout pocketknife, an item that I carried with me every day because I had an afterschool job downtown from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. If you live in Chicago, you know the rush-hour crowd is not the evening crowd, but I floated around with both. However, a girl teen walking any streets at night to get home from the Metra train isn’t always the safest travel. So my mother, who is a peacemaker 99% of the time, OK’d me carrying that knife in my pocket. It was always in my pocket coming home from work and in my backpack while at school. No one knew it was there but me and my mother.
Before I knew I was about to be suspended
It was taking way too long to walk into the school entrances one morning. I wondered what was the problem. As soon as the doors opened, I strolled in, ready to get to my locker and to my first class. That’s when I spotted the familiar security guards next to metal detectors I’d never seen before. I froze for a split second. If I turned around, I’d immediately look guilty. If I didn’t turn around, there was the possibility they’d scan the knife in my bag. I sighed and walked forward. It was only a Girl Scout knife after all.