Thursday, April 19, 2007

The news

Normally the news is on in our house far too much. I often get annoyed with my news freak husband about the TV always being on, and not only that but on news channels that just rotate through the stories repeatedly.

I should have known something was up the other day when the TV never hit a news channel. AB knew I would keep the TV on cable when I watched and never mentioned the VA Tech massacre to me. He knows me right now.

I am almost 4 weeks post partum and I have the same post partum "issues" this time around that I did with Leif. Some women get post partum depression. Thankfully I don't, my "issues" are being extremely emotional (read sappy, I cry when Leif says his prayers at night) and paranoia about something bad happening (how many times exactly did I remind AB to wear his seatbelt on his way to drop Leif off today?). All the different realms of post partum feelings are normal as hormones return somewhere near where they should be.

AB knows this is me right now and we have talked about it. This is why that awful day our TV never hit a news channel and AB silently got his news on the situation from the internet. (I feel obligated to remind women to keep open lines of communications about their feelings post-partum... they are normal.)

That is until I surrendered to the realm of bad TV and decided to flip to Days of Our Lives so I could whine about it. It wasn't on, it was a news conference with an interview with the university president and the chief of police. I can't dwell on the horrific act right now. I have just gotten to the point where I don't have to flip the channel within 2.6 seconds of a related news story coming on, but I am not to the point where I can discuss the happenings without breaking down to "my children are never leaving my house".

However, this morning there was a story on about how other students and faculty had recommended this student for counseling and how did he slip through the cracks. This took me back to my 3rd or 4th year in grad school when I was teaching Physical Chemistry Lab.

It was near the end of the semester, the students were turning in their final papers to the professor. The prof asked me to coordinate them all and make sure all materials were turned in. I noticed that Michael (aka The Postman as named by his classmates nearly 4 years ago in their dorm hall) had not turned in his first draft and I sent him off a quick e-mail asking him to drop it by my office when he had a chance, reminding him it needed to be submitted with his final draft, which I had.

Within minutes I was e-mailed back a rambling, ranting e-mail telling me where I could go and saying that everyone in the department, but particularly me, needed to be watching our backs. I had no idea where this came from. At first I was more perplexed and sent it to the professor of the class. Then I started thinking more about it, realized he was really threatening us, and I sent it to the chair of my department.

The prof blew it off and said, "I don't know where that came from, make sure he gets the paper in". I didn't hear from the chair immediately.

About a half hour later the door to my lab flew open and The Postman was standing there. He was raging. I don't remember what happened very well, other than he was still outside the door and had not entered the lab. I grabbed the door shut it, locked it and told him to leave. I called the professor first, who finally saw the gravity of the issue and then the police were called. I was sent home for the day as the police tracked him down. (Eventually about 6 hours later in his dorm.)

What finally happened? He could have been kicked out of school. He went to Judicial Counsel and was given a warning for his behavior, he claimed I misinterpreted the e-mail (which the counsel saw as bologna). He was "given" a grade of a D+ in the class I taught (since he had completed the class nearly to that point, the prof didn't want him taking the class again) and was told not to attend anymore that semester and to stay away from me as long as I was a student. He was also required to attend counseling until the day he graduated.

The university had problems with this guy from the first day of his freshman year. He had the nickname "Postman" for a reason... his dorm mates all thought he was going to go postal someday. I don't know if anything would have happened, how far he would have taken it. I do know, as did many faculty members and students, that the guy was nuts.

It frightens me to think about what could have happened with how unstable this guy was. How lucky was I that when I yelled at him to leave the building, that he actually left. Was he not as crazy as I thought? Or was I just lucky?

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