Last Wednesday, I woke up pretty late, had breakfast, watched the tube, didn’t get around to taking a shower until 11:30 or so (AM, that is). As I was toweling off, I heard a loud noise come from the air conditioning unit behind my house. Usually it makes a noise right before the AC switches on, but this didn’t sound like that noise. The AC started blasted cool air in, so I didn’t think anything of it…
…until two seconds later, when I heard someone punch through the glass of my back porch door.
Now, I’ll grant that by the time the cops showed up (which was only thirty minutes later), I had some time to think about what had happened and what could have happened, and I was rattled. I will confess that for the last few days, I’ve left lights on later than usual, I’ve jumped up to look out the window at the slightest snap of a twig, and I’ve moved more valuables into secure storage. I’ve been paranoid.
But at the moment the glass broke, I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t even angry. I was incredulous. I was shocked that someone actually had the nerve to break into my home–especially while I was still in it, and especially especially while I was soaking wet, stark naked and hadn’t popped in my contacts. At that moment, I summoned what I call “Teacher Voice.”
I don’t achieve Teacher Voice very often–only a very few of my colleagues can use it at will, and only one had truly mastered the art. The Voice is usually loud, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s forceful. It’s a voice that instantly gets all who hear it to cower in silence and do exactly what they’re supposed to do, instead of whatever mind-bogglingly stupid things they were doing already. The first time I remember using the Voice was in the fall of 2003, when a kid tried to get out of taking a test because she thought she had a field trip that day. The Voice was quiet and controlled that day, but it flowed through me and even made the single most rambunctious and vile student I’ve ever had behave like a lamb–even though it wasn’t directed at him! It was an awesome moment. (Actually, I just thought of an even earlier occasion from 2001, but I’m getting off track.)
Out of pure incredulity, I yelled “Hey!” in the Voice. I grabbed a lead pipe [NOTE: I realize I wrote that as if a lead pipe is a perfectly normal thing to have near your bathroom. I recognize that it isn’t, but better to have a lead pipe and not need one than vice versa.] and stormed into the den. There was glass everywhere, but the miscreant did exactly what he was supposed to do, which was disappear without stealing anything while leaving some evidence behind.
For a while, I almost wished the guy had gotten inside just as I’d gotten into the den with the lead pipe. But after the cops left, after sitting around for a few hours waiting for a repairman to work on the door, after pondering everything that could have gone wrong, it’s probably best that he just ran off.