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Rene DeShazer

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School Evacuated Due to Durian Fruit
Saturday, April 16, 2011  6:00:00 AM

by Rene DeShazer

Schools have fire drills, intruder drills, and weather drills, but a fruit drill????

Last week, we our principal quietly announced into our walkie-talkies that there was a gas leak in the school, and we would be evacuating the building. Using our best fire drill practice methods, the alarm was sounded and about 950 children ages four through ten, as well as nearly 100 adults, calmly exited the school. Luckily, it was a clear and breezy spring day. We all lined up, took head counts, found all children in their proper places – within 60 seconds of the alarm. Smooth and easy – the reason we have fire drills is practice for the real thing.

Presently the district security officers arrived and began checking the area of the school where the odor seemed strongest. Quickly they decided to call in the gas company and the fire department. Within minutes the building was secured and men in various uniforms swarmed the building. The children cheered the fire trucks and waved at the firemen. Parents stopped alarmed that lights were flashing. Quite a crowd gathered. Equipment was rolled in to detect gas leaks. Men spoke seriously into radio microphones.

They could not find a leak.

Forty five minutes later the kids and teachers were restless and hoping to get back to their classrooms to make up for lost time. It was decided the building was safe for re-entry, so re-enter we did. But the terrible odor in the second grade was still hanging around. The teachers quickly relocated their classes to two available areas at the other side of the building in hopes of getting back to the business of the day – teaching and learning.

Moments later, the principal whispered into our two-way radios, “Now the smell is here in this part of the building. We may have to sound the alarm again." Inwardly, I groaned. Two evacuations in one day would mean lots of fun trying to calm the students down. But that was not what we heard next. Instead it was laughter and an announcement, “We found the source. It looks like cookie dough – not dough you’d ever want to bake, though. It is horrible!”

Then mystery was solved. Apparently the teacher used deductive reasoning and sniffed out the problem. It had to be that a student had packed some foul or (dead) thing and brought it from home. Backpacks can be scary places at times. Turns out, a child had toted the durian fruit in her lunch. It is not a good thing. One of the security officers took a whiff and had to go lie down in the nurse’s office.

Here is a description of durian fruit found at

“In spite of an odor so foul that the fruit is actually banned in some public spaces, and a seemingly impenetrable rind covered in half-inch spikes that could result in a visit to the ER if handled carelessly, durian has amassed a following that extols its flavor with backhanded adjectives like “unique” and “exotic.” An admitted fan of the fruit described it in less-than-inspiring terms when he ate it on the Indonesia episode of No Reservations: “Its taste can only be described as… indescribable, something you will either love or despise… Your breath will smell as if you'd been kissing your dead grandmother.” Travel writer Richard Sterling gets a little more hyperbolic, describing its odor as “turpentine, and onions, garnished with a gym sock.” “

The district may have to put durian on the list of banned materials to be brought to school along with drugs and weapons.

The moral is: If there has to be a moral, then perhaps: Check backpacks before evacuating - might save some instructional time?

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