Monday, March 8, 2010

Shakey Jake

We had a strange science teacher in high school. He was an older man, more than a bit odd and eccentric, with a rather ruddy complexion, who smelled strongly of Marlboro reds. He had some type of neurological disorder that caused him to shake and twitch continuously. You can probably imagine how we treated this man, pretty much the object of scorn and constant ridicule. He was referred to as Shakey Jake. Shakey Jake did not really care about winning over the students. He was typically surly and antagonistic. From time to time he would lash out at the class room when we collectively started to run amok. It was his way of trying to control the chaos that was 30 high school sophomores.

I distinctly remember one day during class when the power tripped off and all of the students cheered out in unison. It meant that we were going to get out of working on our assignments. Jake yelled out at us that we were very short sighted for cheering a power outage. For all we knew it was caused by someone crashing their vehicle into a utility pole or due to some other incident that led to someone getting hurt or killed. I remember staring down at my desk to avoid eye contact with him, but at the same time thinking that this guy was a few nuts short of a snack bag.

Fast forward 30-some years later. I live fairly close to a fire station. On a nightly basis I hear the fire trucks speeding off on potential emergency after potential emergency. Their assaulting wails echoing through my house. I can't help but ponder where they are going and if somebody, somewhere is hurt or suffering. I can't help but think of Jake and his message. Now I understand.