Friday, January 25, 2002
Next to a busy street in downtown Menlo Park I'm removing sod and digging post holes for a fence. It will be a rose garden in front of a clinic. Inside the clinic, little children are having occupational therapy - bouncing on therapy balls, swinging from trapezes, learning balance, gaining strength - and having a blast.
A green Buick squeals into the driveway and screeches to a stop. A police car jerks to a stop right behind. On the street, two more squad cars. In a moment a half dozen cops are surrounding the Buick with guns drawn. I'm ten feet away, and I'm in the line of fire.
I drop to the ground.
At that moment the door to the clinic opens. Tara, one of the occupational therapists, steps outside holding the hand of a little boy. The boy, who couldn't be older than six, is the first to comprehend what they have stepped into. He drops to the pavement. Tara drops a moment later. Tara says, "Sammy! Do the inchworm!"
Inchworming is a therapy activity in which a child inches himself along the floor, shoulders and then butt rising up and down as he pushes forward like an inchworm. As a therapist could explain, it requires weight-bearing on the shoulders which is good for stability and strength, and it's useful in teaching motor planning. Or as kids could tell you, it's fun.
Tara and Sammy inchworm through the door and into the clinic.
I do something of an inchworm myself across fifteen feet of grass to a brick wall. From behind the wall I see that the guns are returning to holsters and the police are returning to their cars - except for one policeman who is going to ride as a passenger in the Buick.
The Buick backs out of the driveway and drives slowly down Menlo Avenue, followed by three police cars with flashing lights.
Five minutes later, it's as if nothing ever happened. Upscale shoppers stride in and out of Draeger's, the gourmet grocery across the street. Pedestrians walk along the sidewalk sipping Peet's Coffee from paper cups.
Three hyperactive children burst out of the clinic and pepper me with questions about what I'm doing. I'm digging post holes and removing sod.
Tomorrow, I'll plant roses.