AUBURN – I was hoping to get caught. Trying to unmask people’s weaknesses is not a nice feeling.

In plain sight of some groundskeepers, I tried side doors at Sherwood Heights Elementary School, all locked, then entered in front, where a prominent sign told me to go to the office.

I walked in the opposite direction.

There were two school employees in the foyer. Surely they’d stop me.


I started meandering in an adjacent hall, staring hard at a “History of Art” timeline when teachers neared. Ancient Chinese jade work and illuminated texts? Fascinating,. The things you can learn in an elementary school these days.

A tiny girl in a purple shirt passed with a shy smile and a near-inaudible “hi.” I smiled unthreateningly and said “hi” back, then went back to reading book reports on “The Giver” and looking at kids’ art. Fifteen minutes passed.

I spent another 10 minutes before a wall-sized world map (made before the fall of the Soviet Union) trying to entertain myself by locating Tarawa Island while kids walked past and teachers milled about. One woman even smiled and said “hello.” No one asked why I was standing outside classrooms staring at a map.

Bored with the Pacific, I wandered past the front doors again toward the other wing of the school, brazenly photographing a sculpture with my camera phone before passing the office. Down another hall, I was engrossed in a story about prehistoric sculpture when an administrator who had seen me walk by the office asked if I had a pass. That was that.

I had been inside for 25 minutes.

Granted, as a school employee pointed out, I look so unthreatening that my friends laugh when I make my “scary face.”

Unsettling, even so.


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