March 10, 2012

When the zombies attack

Our classroom discussion about Henry David Thoreau somehow led to the topic of what we’d do in a zombie apocalypse.

The young man who brought up the topic has dark, shaggy hair that falls into his eyes. He’s a smart kid who reminds me very much of my own sons, and he listens intently to our discussions. Sometime he’ll just look around the room, as if he’s studying all of us, and I wonder what he’s thinking.

Now I know. He’s planning an escape route. And deciding which of us will get sacrificed to the zombies.

“Seriously,” he said. “Every time I sit down in a classroom, I plan what I’m gonna do if the zombie apocalypse happens. I figure out who in the room is probably going to get eaten, I figure out how I’m gonna escape.”

“The amount of emotional energy we spend worrying about an imaginary event like a zombie apocalypse — well, it’s ridiculous,” said the student with the streaks of purple in her hair.

“Maybe it’s because the real problems on earth — climate change, pollution, peak oil, the big garbage patch of plastic swirling in the ocean— it's all so overwhelming that we need to take a break and worry about something imaginary,” said the student in the green shirt.

“Well, it’s a way to channel our frustration,” said the student with the fuzzy hat. “All these environmental problems and I feel about as helpless as I would feel if there were a bunch of zombies bursting into the room.”

At the end of the class, after summing up the substance of our discussion, I gestured to the window, “My car is parked right outside. I guess if there’s a zombie apocalypse, I’d make a run for it.”

Dark Shaggy Hair  looked at me, and I knew instantly what he was thinking. I was now part of his plan.

“You’re going to grab my keys, push me to the zombies, and take my car,” I said, accusingly.

The other students laughed, but he just shrugged. “Of course. You can’t give me that information and expect me not to take advantage of it.”

It wasn't until the other students had left and we were walking out to the quad that Dark Shaggy Hair said to me in a low voice, “I’d let you survive too. We could BOTH take your car.”

“And I’m slower, so the zombies will get me first,” I said. He smiled.

But still, it seemed like he’d be a good ally. He’s definitely seen more zombie movies than I have. I held up the lanyard that sticks out of my bag. “Here’s where I keep my keys. And my car is over there  -- the black one parked sideways.”

So now I have a plan. In case the zombie apocalypse happens during class.


Geeka said...

I do a similar thing: I plan my escape route for almost any situation. It makes me feel slightly more in control of my life.

That sounds pathetic, but I think it's part of the fight or flight mechanism. Sure, I can put up a fight (and I have...I've kept my purse when some one has tried to steal it, and this is part of the reason why I no longer carry one), but flight, is sometimes so much more elegant. Watch a rabbit (or a sheep), they always have 2 routes of escape.

It's a coping mechanism, a survival strategy, and becomes part of our lives. Some of us don't realize we are doing it, but I think that this allows us (those that do) be good in emergencies, because we're one step ahead, we can use some of that advantage to help others.

sherry said...

I wonder if doing this sort of zombie apocalypse planning would be a way to help your ponytail and biker boy friends think through their own worst case scenarios.

I may use that myself as an entry point to discussions with my patients about how they can regain control of the bad hand life has dealt to them.

Bardiac said...

I have to admit that I totally don't understand the current fascination with zombies. Maybe your student's right that it's a response to feeling overwhelmed by real problems?

delagar said...

Over on IBTP, there was a huge comment thread on parking (the evils of, bad parkers, etc) and the conclusion people came to, eventually, was that we spend *so* *much* time obsessing about other people's parking, and trying to correct it, precisely for this reason: it's a small problem, that maybe we do have a shot of fixing: unlike global warming, that trash patch in the middle of the ocean, the economy, and so on.

kathy a. said...

how funny about zombies! i keep getting further out of touch with popular culture.

i bet little biker boy has escape routes planned. he has needed to escape before.

Kris said...

That sounds like a lot more fun than the things I'm currently worrying about.

Jennifer said...

I think planning for an apocalypse is an American obsession. There's even a new TV show about people who do this, "Independence USA."

I think that life for most Americans (as Norman Rush said) is like being stabbed to death with a butter knife; and the appeal of an apocalypse is that it's -- well, an escalation, so that you can fight for real, and have it over with one way or the other.

Julie VW said...

FYI - The CDC has information on their website about emergency preparedness and zombie attacks. You might want to check it out and get some supplies in your car

blue milk said...

Love that everyone is making their own secret survival plans now for zombies. Mine is to fall in love with a redneck with a gun.

Loma Kath said...

The teens in my carpool have a complete plan for surviving a zombie apocalypse, but I don't think that includes saving me...