A few years ago, during a faculty meeting, we were all presented with whistles (nice ones, with lanyards!). The idea behind the gift was this: if the big earthquake strikes—Salt Lake City is on a major fault line—my fourth-floor office is likely to have a garden-level view. The whistle will presumably help the search and rescue team find me. I know! This is not the story you want to hear when presented with a gift. “Look! I’ve purchased for you a rubber suit! It should protect you against the rabid dog I see slobbering behind you.”
I see a few problems with this whistle plan; for one, the idea that I might need a whistle because I’ve somehow survived a four-story plummet into a pile of rubble scares the liver out of me. For another, I don’t carry that whistle at all times. What if I’ve just popped across the hall to use the bathroom? I guess that’s what the fancy lanyard is for. Every time I open my desk drawer and see that whistle, I get a little nervous. Honestly, it’s not that loud. (I’ve taken it on a few test runs). If I’m buried in rubble, I’d prefer a trumpet. Or a gong. Do they make lanyards for those?
The earthquake whistle came to mind this week because it’s spring break (spring!? Ha. Hardly.), and I’ve been using my break (break!? Ha. Hardly.) to catch up on paper-grading. I feel metaphorically buried; that whistle would come in handy right about now. “Please find me! I’m buried in papers of all kinds. Please help!”
I’m making decent progress, but I feel very cheated out of spring break. Consider the whistle blown.