Now that the folks at www.erwintang.com have received sponsorship of US $10 million to continue their good work in reporting on the daily life of grad student Erwin Tang, they have begun to out-source their stories. That is why I have been commissioned to write about what happened last night.

Last night Erwin, Rhonda, Bryan, Carolyn and myself went to see Shrek 2. After the movie we caught a bus back to campus in the pouring rain. The bus driver was driving rather erratically, and I felt for sure that we were going to crash into a tree or something. We didn’t hit anything, but the bumpy bus ride and the pouring rain had given me the uneasy feeling that something was about to happen.

We were walking home from the bus loop in the rain and I didn’t have my brolly with me, so I had the hood of my blue sweater up to keep some rain off. Carolyn said I looked like Elliot from E.T., which everyone enthusiastically agreed with. I was just about getting over the fact that I looked like a little boy, when I noticed a big kerfuffle happening up ahead of us, along with lots of yelling, screaming and even a little cheering.

We got closer and saw a crowd of about 20-30 young kids, aged around 16 or so. There was so much going on that it was hard to pick out all the details. I saw at least two different fights going on, both involving girls being beaten up, mostly by other girls. One of the girls was pushed into some bushes, and other girls went in after her with fists flailing and claws out. There were some choice words being used to describe the girls being beaten up, and I rather got the impression that they were fighting over boys.

Anyway, for the second time in one week, Bryan ran over to the nearest ‘Campus blue light’ checkpoint to call security. Only the check point wasn’t working properly. Bryan said that all he got when he pressed the call button was some loud static noise. So he was unable to contact or speak to a security officer. However, the flashing blue light on top of the checkpoint did work, and had the effect of making some of the kids disperse in various directions. It didn’t stop the fighting though, maybe they were too involved in what they were doing to notice the flashing blue light.

I don’t know who called the police but we heard the sirens (more crowd dispersal), and then two RCMP cars pulled up (total crowd dispersal). At this point, there were two kids left. One of them was one of the girls who had been beaten up in the bushes, wearing one broken shoe, torn jeans and hair resembling a bird’s nest. The other person was supposedly her boyfriend, but I hadn’t noticed that he had been doing much to protect the honour of his lovely lady. The girl was clearly drunk, and was fixated on the fact that she had lost a shoe. Rhonda and Carolyn had been talking to her, trying to figure out if she was ok, if she was going to be able to get home, and how much her boyfriend could be depended on to make sure she got home ok. But it seemed that the girl just wanted her shoe back.

Three RCMP officers got out of the cars, which I thought was a pretty good turnout all things considered. A female officer approached us first, asking what had happened. There wasn’t much we could say because the kids had all buggered off to cause trouble somewhere else. So we just pointed her in the direction of the distressed one-shoed girl and her boyfriend. They asked us to hang around so they could take our details in case they need us as witnesses. Pretty soon after they started talking to the girl, another officer decided to take her boyfriend on one side to interview him separately. Maybe they needed to see if their stories were going to match. The third officer just stood around wearing a bullet proof vest and didn’t say much.

So we waited around for about 15 minutes while they were interviewing these kids. Bryan and I filled in some time by looking for the girl’s shoe, but we didn’t turn anything up. It was still raining at this point by the way.

AND THEN… security finally showed up. A lone security officer pulled up and walked over to the RCMP officers, who pointedly ignored him. So the security officer just stood around looking pretty foolish. Finally Bryan went over to him and told him that we had tried to call security earlier but that the campus blue light didn’t work. I couldn’t hear the security guy’s response, but apparently it went something like this: “Oh, it wasn’t working, eh? That’s too bad”.

Once they were finished interviewing the two kids, the female RCMP officer walked back over to us to ask what we had seen. But because there were just so many of them and there had been so much going on that we couldn’t point out any particular details. She took the names and addresses of Erwin and Carolyn, probably because they looked very mature and responsible. Not like me – I still looked like Elliot from E.T., only wetter. I told the RCMP officer that we had tried using the campus blue light check point and it hadn’t been working. She was more reassuring in her response than the security guy had been. She said she would make sure in the most eloquent terms she could find, that Campus security were told they had to have the security points repaired. After that we left, since we had done everything we could, and we were wet and cold and tired.

I woke up this morning and felt kind of annoyed at the blasé attitude of the security officer. Why do we have Campus Security and this campus blue light system if (a) it doesn’t work when you need it, and (b) Campus security don’t care that it doesn’t work. So I decided to write an email to Tom Carroll, the Campus Security Operations Manager, to find out what he planned to do to make sure that we would never again be faced with a security alert system that doesn’t work. I expect he won’t reply though or else I’ll get some automated bureaucratic response.

I should point out that this was the second time in a week that Bryan and I have been faced with the opportunity to call security from a campus blue light. The first time was last Sunday, when we saw a guy who looked and sounded a lot like he was going to throw himself off the top of a multi-storey parkade. We called security then and told them we thought someone was going to kill themselves, but security never showed up. The guy jumped, but it turned out that it was only a drill for St. John’s Ambulance, but we didn’t know that. There were no warning signs or St. John’s Ambulance people to be seen. You’d think security could have told us that it was just a drill when we spoke to them. And you’d also think that they would take the time to come out to the scene, just in case it had been for real.

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