Peter learned his lesson too late

By David Fong - Contributing Columnist

“A boy called Peter lived with his parents in a village on the hillside. His parents, like most of the other people in the village, were sheep farmers. Everybody in the village took turns to look after the sheep, and when Peter was 10 years old, he was considered old enough to take his turn at shepherding.”

At some point, pranks stop being funny. There comes a time when hoaxes lose all sense of frivolity and become dangerous to all involved. There’s still a big difference between a whoopie cushion and a terroristic threat.

We all were reminded of this recently when, once again, someone thought it would be a good idea to write a bomb threat on a bathroom wall inside of Troy High School. As a result, two schools — Troy High School and Troy Junior High School — had to be shut down for an entire day while law enforcement officials did a clean sweep of the high school to make sure the bomb threat was, in fact, a hoax.

“But Peter was too easily bored, and he found it very tiresome being on the hillside with only sheep for company. So he’d find ways to amuse himself, running up rocks, climbing trees, chasing sheep, but nothing really kept him amused for very long. Then he hit upon a brilliant idea. He climbed to the top of the tallest tree, and started shouting towards the village: ‘Wolf! Wolf! Wooolf! Woohoolf!’”

It seems as though there are people who think a bomb threat is a particularly clever and harmless way to get a day off of school. Of course, they are wrong on both accounts. It is neither clever or harmless.

For starters, these threats put a huge strain on our local law enforcement agents, who certainly have better things to do with their time than spend a few hours searching an entire high school for a bomb that doesn’t exist. Police officers who should be doing other things to keep us safe and improve our quality of life are forced to spend their time searching every nook and cranny of a school building because someone wanted to sleep in on a Monday.

“One of the villagers heard him, and got all the other men together, and armed with axes, hoes and forks, they ran out of the village to chase away the wolf and save their herd. Of course, when they got there, they merely found Peter perched high up in his tree, laughing, and the sheep grazing peacefully. They were very annoyed with him. That night Peter got a spanking from his mother and was sent to bed without any supper.”

Of course, these bomb threats are not particularly clever or original, either. The kids who are doing this have short memories and little appreciation for history. These sorts of threats have, sadly, happened around Troy for several years. They’ve happened so many times without incident (thankfully), that I can’t help but wonder if we’ve become a little desensitized by the whole affair. I worry that one of these days, we are going to let our guard down and some very evil person with some very scary intentions will do something very bad.

This may not even necessarily happen at one of our schools or within the city of Troy. But it could happen to someone who has become so numb to these local idle threats that they don’t take proper precautions when they are faced with real danger.

“(Peter) got worried and decided to climb a tree so he could see what was going on. He balanced on a sturdy branch and looked around, what he saw almost made him fall out of the tree. There was a great big hairy wolf, chasing the sheep, biting at their legs, snapping at their tails. For a few seconds Peter was speechless. Then he started shouting: ‘Woolf! Woolof! Woohoohooloof!’

Kids need to realize that while not putting anyone in direct danger with these bomb threats, they are seriously affecting the lives of thousands of people. What about the kids who don’t believe these things are a hoax and have to go to school every day in fear something like this is going to happen? It’s a scary world in which we live, folks. There’s enough real danger out there to worry about without having to fret over someone’s sick idea of a joke.

And what about the teachers, support staff and administrators who had to deal directly with this? Like law enforcement officials, they also have better things to do with their time — like educating children, for instance — than chasing shadows.

The bottom line is nobody finds this funny, except maybe the actual perpetrator. This isn’t a joking matter. It’s also a federal offense. If you get caught, there will be serious legal consequences. This isn’t the type of thing for which you get detention after school. This is the kind of thing that can get you expelled and get the book thrown at you.

So please, kids, stop it. It’s time to find better things to do with your time. While I obviously don’t know who did it, I also think it might be time for them to start seeking professional help for whatever issues they may have.

“Nobody believed that this time there really was a wolf, and nobody got their hoe out, or their axe, or their shovel. All the sticks were left in the sheds and nobody rushed up the hillside. It wasn’t until very much later that afternoon, that the boy sent to take over the shepherding from Peter found dead sheep’s bodies strewn all over the hillside, and Peter still up there in his tree, whimpering, that the villagers found out there really had been a wolf this time.

“At last Peter learnt his lesson, that if you always tell lies, people will eventually stop believing you; and then when you’re telling the truth for a change, when you really need them to believe you, they won’t.”

David Fong writes for the Troy Daily News, a division of Aim Media Midwest.

By David Fong

Contributing Columnist