When your Nerf blaster causes a campus lockdown.
I was responsible for two college lockdowns and the lockdown of the town in which I went to college. All because I had a Nerf blaster.
It was my freshman year of college, and as a freshman, I was exploring many of the social aspects of college life outside of academia. One of these was a game students used to play called Zombies vs Humans (ZvH). Essentially this is a campus-wide game of Nerf tag. There were about 65 of us playing at the time and essentially out of those 65 people one was chosen to be the first zombie. This person wore a red headband to designate him/herself. Everyone else wore a red arm band to designate themselves as human, and it was the goals of the zombies to roam around, "feed" and turn all the humans by ripping off their arm band. It was the human's job to survive. There were several ways to ward off zombies - Nerf blaster darts, marshmallows, and socks - but the only way to truly kill one was to have it starve by not feeding in 48 hours. Dorms were safe, cafeterias were safe and class rooms were safe.
Now this was my second semester playing ZvH. During my first semester, I got "turned" by an embarrassing swarm of college kids screaming brains as I was tackled and had my armband ripped off. I was determined to not just do better, but win, come springtime. As such, I went to the extremes of planning escape routes from buildings, setting up secret hiding points and even brought a homemade ghillie suit (which I have used while playing paintball in high school) so that I could hide in the bushes outside of class and not have to be seen walking around. It was going pretty well so far. I had managed to remain human for two weeks, being one of five left. With me, through it, all, was my trusty Nerf Maverick.
On April 8th, 2008 I had successfully made it back to my dorm without incident and had to go back out for a chemistry lab. I exited my dorm's back entrance, sneaked behind the line of parked cars, past another dorm, past the engineering building through the back entrance of the science center, out the front and ran quickly to my chemistry lab. Generally, I left a full 20 minutes early in case there were any issues, so when I got to the lab I was pretty early. I helped set some stuff up and started sciencing the heck out of the titration equipment when class started.
About 30 minutes had gone by when everyone's cell phone went off at the same time, save for mine (I had a Tracphone with .1 minutes available. This will be important later). This was my University's alert system notifying everyone that both universities in town and the town itself were on lockdown following an armed person that was seen entering the science center around 3:00 PM. The suspect is a 5'9 male wearing a green hoodie and a red backpack. Students were told that police would be combing the campus building and that they should stay in their buildings. I looked down, realized I was wearing an old, ratty green hoody and had a red backpack. The issue was that I am not 5'9. A quick look out the window confirmed that this was a pretty big deal, given that I saw a few dozen officers in various uniforms patrolling the campus. It was at this point that my phone began ringing non-stop. I managed to ignore the calls until my girlfriend at the time finally called and after asking if I was alright, I had just enough time to say, "Campus is on lockdown, but I think they are looking for me..." Now I am out of minutes, and all my Tracphone says is, "Incoming call. Tank Empty, Top-Up now for $20!" I resigned myself to just sit here indefinitely and finished my lab.
Eventually, a large deputy entered our lab and approached me asking very nicely if I could answer some questions. He asked where I had been for the last few hours (my alibi confirmed by a least a dozen professors and students) and if I could have anything that could be confused for a weapon. When I showed him my Nerf blaster, he rolled his eyes and asked if I could follow him to the engineering building, where the "base of operations" was. When I got down there, they searched me, my backpack, had the witness confirm that I was the shady fellow brandishing a Desert Eagle. They then notified me that they felt it necessary to search my room. My phone is still ringing nonstop.
They were likely expecting me to say I had a bottle of Jack Daniels or some joints in my room. Instead, I notified them that I had two swords (historical pieces that were just stashed in the bottom of my closet while my parents were moving), a hatchet and camp knife (I didn't party at the time, and went camping every weekend), a ghillie suit, and some small Coleman propane tanks for one of those camp stoves. Something to note here: There was absolutely nothing illegal in either my room, nor on my person, nor did I actually break the law. These were just items that the university didn't want on campus. We set off to go extract everything from my room that violated the Student Code of Conduct.
The issue was, that when we got there, there was nothing in my room except for my laptop and dirty laundry. No swords, no camping gear, no propane tanks - nothing. It was at this point one of the police officers began grilling me about how this was all just one big joke to me and that I was leading everyone on a merry, little wild-goose chase. Some other events took place while they attempted to find my gear (which involved illegally searching another students' rooms and finding a slew of things that were definitely not supposed to be possessed) and finally culminated in locating my roommate and finding out that when I didn't return back from my chemistry lab with him, he asked everyone on the floor - over a dozen people in total - to help me out and take a box from my closet. Good, bad, didn't matter. Not only did my roommate try and save my rear end (a feat that I found grotesquely surprising considering the history that we had up until then) but everyone on the floor had pitched in. The police cataloged it all and kept it in the evidence locker until I went home at the end of that semester. In fact, while taking a witness report, the aggressive cop of the two started laughing so hard he had tears in his eyes. I will never forget what he said to me:
"You might still be a little jumpy right now. You might get into a bit of trouble with the school, but tomorrow you are going to have the greatest story to tell wherever you go."
Needless to say, this was an epic ordeal. Not only was I elevated to instant celebrity status among my fellow students (in no small part due to me telling the entire story on my radio show over the campus radio station), but I did interviews with Rochester news, Buffalo news and a radio talk show in Albany. The president of the school newspaper wrote an article about the events titled, "Dan of the Dead: A Human Story" that won him a journalism award later that year. The story was featured on CBS, MSNBC and Fox news and in October of that year. And there was a video of us playing ZvH outside of our campus center on the Colbert Report in response to his Threatdown that week: Zombies.
Fifteen minutes of fame is a phrase that was coined in the 1960s and is often quoted and referred to in modern times. We will examine the meaning of the phrase fifteen minutes of fame, some derivations of the term, who coined it, and some examples of its use in sentences.
Fifteen minutes of fame refers to the phenomenon of ordinary people becoming famous for a short period of time. The term seems to be even more appropriate now than when it was coined in 1968, with the advent of twenty-four-hour news and the internet. The idea was proposed in 1968 by Andy Warhol, at his first international exhibition at the Moderna Museet gallery in Stockholm, Sweden. In the exhibition catalogue, Warhol stated, “In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes.” The phrase is alluded to in statements such as he‘s had his fifteen minutes and I’m looking for my fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes of fame has a rare etymological history, in that its origin may be pinpointed to a specific person and a particular point in time.
In what became a viral sensation during a tense confirmation process, US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos gave rural schools fifteen minutes of fame when she explained that guns could be useful “to protect [students] from potential grizzlies.” (The American Enterprise INstitute)
“In many respects we’re coming to the last seconds of central bankers’ fifteen minutes of fame which is a good thing,” Mr Carney told the Bank of England Inflation Report press conference, referencing Andy Warhol’s line about everyone in the world being famous for fifteen minutes in their lives in the future. (The Independent)
Although it seems my fifteen minutes ran out a while ago, from time to time I get stopped at the mall or at the gym here for photo ops with Bachelor fans. (The Colorado Springs Gazette)