A Chain of Events
Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College
A Chain of Events
"ROLL CALL!" Mr. Allen yelled out to get the class's attention. Mr. Allen was my very eccentric photography teacher who had a habit of calling roll EVERYDAY and saying everyone's name in a silly way. For instance, "Nisa Badalisa" is what he usually called me.
As Mr. Allen proceeded to call roll, I continued preparation for our photography show, which was coming up within the next couple weeks. I began diligently working on a frame for one of my photos. KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK--I heard a sound at the door.
"Is Nisa Shinagawa here?"
"Yes, she's actually right there," Mr. Allen said pointing in my direction.
"What now?" I thought to myself.
"Hi, could you grab your things? This may take a while." The short, stout woman had this carrot-colored hair I couldn't help, but stare at.
As we left the classroom, Mr. Allen said, "See you tomorrow!" He always seemed so happy to see me.
Stepping outside I felt a wave of heat come over me. My back began to sweat from my backpack. It was April, and it'd been in the 90's for some time. It was going to be a hot summer.
"The reason I'm pulling you out of class is because we have the drug dogs here today and it seems they picked your car out. There's no reason to worry; you're not in trouble; they just need to search your car," she said to me with a smile.
"Oh, it's no problem at all. I have nothing to hide. It's just funny this happens to me the first day I decide to park in the front parking lot in a while," I said laughing. I had used the parking lot in the back of the school near the track and baseball field since November.
"Are you missing anything in class today?" she asked me in a kind voice.
"Nothing I can't do later. We're getting ready for the photography show," I told her as we walked briskly to the parking lot.
When we came to the parking lot, I saw a woman in a forest green polo shirt walking a golden retriever around a white Toyota Chevy. My car wasn't the only one being searched. As I walked closer to my car, I noticed two other students standing next to their cars.
"You too?" I asked with a little laugh, and then I saw the assistant principal, Ms. Belle. She was wearing a fanny pack, penny loafers, and high gray socks with a skirt that went just past her knees. I couldn't hold my smile back.
"Nisa? Is that your Scion TC?" she asked me.
"Yes, it is," I replied as the woman in the green polo walked towards my car and me.
"Alright, you've heard of the dogs before, correct?" the woman in green asked.
"Yes," I answered.
"Well, basically what I do is train the dogs to detect certain odors: illicit drugs, alcohol, or gun powder. Just because the dog detected something with your car does not mean you are in trouble. Any residual odors from you or someone who sat in your car can be detected by the dogs. The dogs are very friendly; they don't bark or express aggression when they detect something; they just lay down as you see the dog doing now. Now, can you tell me any reason why the dog might have detected your car?" she said in a very formal manner.
"I have no clue. I don't drink or smoke, and I'm pretty sure no one who's been in my car has either," I replied without hesitation.
"Okay, now what we're going to have to do is check your car. Would you mind unlocking it for me?" the woman asked politely in the still very formal tone.
"Sure thing," I said as I pressed the unlock button on my key. The rear and headlights flashed twice to signal the car was unlocked.
The woman in green began by opening the passenger side door and sitting in my car.
"I wanted to get one of these cars. Do they drive good?" she asked me in a more casual manner.
"They drive great and are good on gas. I love my car," I said loosening up, thanks to the lack of formality in her voice.
"That's why we chose this row to search. I saw your car and thought 'Oh let's do that row,'" she said laughing.
I stood next to Ms. Belle with the sun beating down on us. "I just want to go back to class. There's nothing in there," I thought to myself as I watched the woman continue searching under my seat and floor mats. Then I realized my glove box was still locked.
"OHMYGOD! MYKNIFE!" My parents gave me a knife to keep in the car when I drove around by myself for protection. A flow of panic came over me, and I turned to Ms. Belle.
"Umm . . . my glove box is locked. Do you want me to unlock it?" I asked trying to mask my nervousness.
"Yes, please," she replied.
Still looking at her, I nervously said, "I actually forgot I have a knife in there . . . ."
"Oh no no no. Go ahead and unlock the glove box and give it to me. Oh no, knives aren't allowed on campus," she said in a concerned voice.
"I know, I totally forgot about it. It's been in there since last summer," I lied. I didn't actually forget it was in there. I just didn't think I'd ever get in trouble for it.
I unlocked the glove box and gave the knife to Ms. Belle. We waited for the woman in green to finish searching my car and then walked to Ms. Belle's office in the counselor building.
"Hi," I said to the secretary. I was used to seeing her when I needed to get my guest passes and dance forms approved. Her short, curly blonde hair and her sweet smile were always welcoming, but not this time.
Ms. Belle's office was the last place I wanted to be. Before that point I'd never been into a principal's office in my life. It smelled like a dentist's office, and the walls were so well insulated that every little creak of my chair and the sound of Ms. Belle tapping away at the keys of the keyboard filled the tiny ten by ten office.
"Alright, Nisa. Here's what's going to happen. The rules are very clear and there's no getting around them whether it was an accident or not. The rules clearly state that any knives found on campus are cause for five day suspension, and if it's longer than two inches then I'm supposed to put you up for expulsion, which I highly doubt will happen considering your wonderful record, so just let me measure the blade really fast," she said reaching in her drawer for a ruler.
Tears were streaming from my eyes. I was crying so hard I found it hard to catch my breath.
"Here you go," Ms. Belle said as she handed me a few tissues from the box on her desk.
"What about the photography show? I have an anatomy test tomorrow. I'm going to fall so far behind." My mind was going a thousand miles per hour.
"Oh no, it's much longer than two inches. I have to go make a quick photocopy of this to keep on file. I'll be right back."
My eyes were so full of tears everything became blurry. I gasped trying to breathe and calm down before Ms. Belle came back into the room. Licking my lips, I could taste the salt from my tears. I wiped my eyes.
"Okay, Nisa. I just have to make a quick phone call. Were you planning on going to the prom and the senior trip?" Ms. Belle sat down at her desk again.
"Yes . . . I . . . already . . . paid for . . . Disneyland," I forced each word out, trying to calm my breathing.
"You may not be able to go," she said with a sad look on her face. I cried even harder.
"Would you like to call your parents and let them know what is going on?" she asked gesturing to the phone on her desk.
"Sure," I said wiping my nose with a tissue and grabbing the phone. I entered the numbers to my mom's cellphone.
"Fernisa Sison, how may I help you?" she answered as she normally would.
"Mom, the drug dogs smelled my car today, and I forgot I had my knife in the glove compartment, so I'm suspended for 5 days," I said trying to control my sobs.
"WHAT?" Mom asked me with a heightened level of concern in her voice.
"Do you want to talk to Ms. Belle?" I couldn't talk anymore without crying too hard. Mom's voice cracked after I told her what had happened. She was crying.
When Ms. Belle got off the phone with my mom, she said, "Your teachers will be notified and any missing assignments will be sent to the office for someone to pick up for you. You are not allowed within 100 feet of any Lincoln School District campus until your five days are up. I will talk to Mr. Allen about the photography show, and I'm sure you guys can work something out."
I knew she was trying to comfort me, but nothing could take away the pain I felt at that moment. I felt a knot twisting in my stomach.
When mom finally got to school her eyes were red from crying, and she asked me, "Are you okay, baby?"
"No, of course not," I snapped a little from all the pent up sadness and frustration.
"I understand, baby," she tried to comfort me.
Leaving all the formalities behind, mom and I left the office and walked towards the parking lot. I wanted to turn in my Unit Booklet to Mr. Moreno, my anatomy teacher, before I left.
When I walked into the classroom full of my peers, most of them began to stare at me. I told Mr. Moreno I needed to turn in my Unit Booklet. His expression went from his kind, ear-to-ear smile to a concerned parenting expression.
"What's wrong? What happened?" he immediately asked me. I just shook my head. I couldn't talk without gasping for air from all of my crying.
"Let's go outside," he said guiding me to the door. Mom was outside the classroom waiting for me.
"So what happened?" he said with a genuinely caring look.
"Well, her dad and I gave her a knife to keep with her when she drives alone because she's a small girl and we worry about her. We wanted her to have some protection. Well, she totally forgot the knife was locked in her glove compartment and today the drug dogs smelled her car and it had to be searched. She's suspended for five days."
"Oh I'm so sorry. It's just a little mistake. Don't worry about a thing. If you need me to write a letter to the principal for you I will. You are a great student." He gave me a hug. I needed it. His words were so comforting. I never knew he thought so highly of me before.
"Thank you," I said. Mom and I started walking towards our cars. I comforted her. She seemed like she needed it more than I did. She was so upset.
"I'll meet you at home, baby." Mom had the same sad look on her face.
"Okay," I replied with teardrops rolling down my cheeks.
I sat in my car and started the engine. I turned on the radio to drown out the sound of my crying.
"Every little things gonna be alright," Bob Marley sang to me.