This article was originally published in The Dolphin Talk Newspaper in March of 2012.
Since 9/11 we have become a country that (rightly so) has become a bit more wary of some of the dirtier aspects of modern warfare, such as suicide bombings, booby-trapped explosives and what could be inside our daily mail, something we have sadly seen in action before with the Uni-Bomber and Anthrax attacks.
There is also another enemy we have to combat when keeping our local area safe, one that does not have the backing of a major foreign power or makes it to CNN.
On March 13th, someone called in a bomb threat at the H-E-B store in Port Lavaca at the Calhoun Plaza. Although nothing incriminating was found at the store and no one was hurt, the bomb threat itself was most likely just a prank probably played by local youth, it does not take away from the seriousness of the matter.
How do I know?
I’ve done it before.
When I was around fifteen or so, myself and a couple of friends decided that the best way to celebrate the Fourth of July weekend was to run around with firecrackers and a few cherry bombs, causing mayhem and destruction about town.
One target for our mischievous ways was a local McDonalds where we had the bright idea of leaving a pack of firecrackers out on the floor of the men’s room, with a lit wooden match laying across the fuse so we could leave the restaurant with our ‘bomb’ primed and then run across the street outside to watch what might happen next.
What happened was the arrival of three fire engines, a couple of police cars and an ambulance. Never before and never again in my life did I feel quite as much like a criminal as I did then. Of course, we did the thing you would expect of most teenagers when faced with something they know they did wrong.
I would like to think that there are some marathon runners who’re the best time beat that day by three teens running from imaginary squad cars and detectives. We ran to the first apartment building we found and stuffed every single firecracker and cherry bomb into some unsuspecting person’s mailbox, who hopefully found a better use for them (I have always wondered from time to time about who had found the fireworks, what they thought of the discovery and if the police ever knew and put two and two together).
For us, the running did not stop till we were at our respective homes, with me sitting in my bedroom with the lights out. Eventually, my sitting in total darkness, making less noise then a mouse caught the watchful eye of my father, who after the usual dance that parents go through with their children, got the entire story out of me.
However, instead of being mad at what I had done, he was madder at the results… The three fire trucks might have been able to assist with a real fire or a real emergency, the police could have been out on patrol keeping the streets safe and the ambulances could have been saving someone’s life, someone’s father or someone’s son.
At first I thought I had gotten off easy and breathed a sigh of relief but admittedly my mind started to wander and I started to think about all the possible scenarios about where else those emergency vehicles could have been rather than investigating some stupid prank.
Which is why this story came to mind again after hearing about the faked H-E-B bomb threat here in Port Lavaca. Where else could those resources, manpower, and money that were wasted that afternoon be put to better use?
Even in low crime communities like the ones in which we are blessed to live, the officers and officials are here to help with real emergency situations, not investigate the works of a couple of juvenile pranksters giggling in the parking lot or in the bushes.
The second waste of resources is the time and effort of the pranksters themselves. Time wasted pulling off this crazy stunt could have been better used somewhere else.
Funny like many other aspects of life is in the eye of the beholder but we should also always consider how many different sets of eyes are all around us and how much they appreciate our form of ‘entertainment’.