My car door was tagged. The mark was on the passenger side, so I may not have spotted it right away. It was made with a brown marker — probably a Sharpie. It was the sign of a local gang.
The discovery left me feeling doubly violated — someone vandalized my property, but more than that, they violated my security. I am Teacher; Maestra; Miss. I am the one person, when our pod was broken into two years ago, whose room remained pristine. The vandals trashed all three of the other rooms, spray painting the walls, breaking furniture, destroying books — and in my room they took the VCR, the TV, and every pen and pencil in my desk, but they destroyed nothing. They left a note on my white board that read, “You were cool.”
A few years back the teachers all walked out of their classrooms at the end of the day to discover their tires had been slashed. My car was among the few untouched. I am liked and respected in the neighborhood. I am known as fair, honest and kind. Knowing I was respected left me feeling immune. And then I discovered the tagging on my car.
I said something to my students. Richard piped up, “That’s good teacher. The gang, they like you. You are under their protection.”
I said, “That’s bad, Richard. That mark on my car could get me killed. When you put on one gang’s colors, you put on a target the members of every other gang wants to shoot.”
All the kids immediately looked at each other and started murmuring. One of them said, “I never thought of that.”
My response: “Start thinking.”
To those who love me: the car door has been cleaned.