An Airport Screening

Ciera Miller, Contributing Writer

   On March 15, I flew into the capital of the United States from Paris, France. It was the second day of Coronavirus screenings in the U.S. The plane I was on taxied took an additional 45 minutes in its hanger to allow the airport time to accept us without accidentally infecting its other passengers. An elderly woman in her 70s with a chronic back condition begged the flight attendants to let her off because she couldn’t stand nor sit down without being in incredible pain; they told her there was nothing they could do to help her, she would have to sit and wait.

   When my fellow passengers and I were finally allowed off the plane, we were separated from the inside of the airport. We followed a passageway whose windows looked into gates and terminals where passengers were waiting for their own flights to board. A little girl with a pacifier in her mouth waved at us as we walked by. Airport representatives wearing light blue gloves, some with masks over their mouths, gave us our customs papers and boarded us onto a shuttle that took us to the opposite side of the airport. There, we waited an additional ten minutes before we were allowed inside for the Coronavirus screening process.

   Inside was an unsterilized room with two lines: one for those who were staying in Washington, D.C., and those who had connecting flights to other parts of the country. I joined the huddle of passengers with connecting flights, who were all squeezed together with their hands in their pockets to avoid touching others. The screening took an additional half an hour, 20 minutes of which consisted of waiting in the large huddle. The door was about 100 feet from the front of the group and moving slowly. When I finally caught a glance of the screening process, I saw ten representatives (probably healthcare workers and/or doctors) from the Center for Disease Control dressed head to toe in blue scrubs, mouths and noses masked, sitting at two tables intersected to make an ‘L’. When they were ready for a new passenger, they waved a small American flag.

   When I was flagged over, I saw the representatives wore blue gloves as well. I handed mine the document which said I’d been in Schengen Province (also known as mainland Europe) for at least the last two weeks, I hadn’t had any symptoms (as observed by myself), and that my last stop was in Maine. He asked where I’d been while in Europe, if I’d recently been to Italy or Iran as both countries are highly infected, and if I’d had any symptoms. I told him I’d been studying about an hour outside of Paris, no I hadn’t been to Italy or Iran, and no I didn’t have any symptoms.

   He didn’t take my temperature. He didn’t wait to see if I dry coughed. He didn’t check my lungs for signs of trouble breathing. He took my word for it that I didn’t have any symptoms, put a sticker on my customs card, and told me to tell the security guards by the shuttle back into the airport that I wasn’t infected. He gave me a packet telling me about self-quarantine and what steps I should take since I’ve been in an infected country and waved the stars and stripes for someone else to move forward.

   All of it took less than five minutes. The screening was a joke. I could’ve lied. I could’ve been ignorant of having symptoms. I could’ve spread the Coronavirus to the capital of the United States. The doctor wouldn’t have known because he just took my word for it without testing me for a positive or negative result. This is what was happening in American airports across the country for the first week of the country’s national emergency, and it might still be happening now. Though I hope that the screening has gotten far better, for the sake of other American citizens.

   I have been self-quarantining for the last two weeks for the sake of others because COVID-19 can develop between 2-14 days from exposure, and if I do have the Coronavirus, I don’t want to accidentally spread it. After my quarantine is up, I plan to practice social distancing like the rest of the country to keep myself, my family and friends, and the rest of the country safe. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggests the same.

Farmington Marches for Global Climate Strike

Farmington Marches for Global Climate Strike

Ciera Miller, Contributing Writer

    Protesters for the Global Climate Strike took to the streets in cities all over the world at noon on Friday, Sept. 20, the people of Farmington marching among them. On the Mantor Green, students, professors and community members assembled just beside the bustling Club Fair with the intent to march through the Farmington area for the climate strike. 

Strikers gathered outside the gazebo as part of their march through downtown Farmington.

    The strikers were poised to raise awareness for the crisis that is global warming. The heart of the problem is the significantly increased rate at which greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are released into the atmosphere by human activity and causing Earth’s rapid heating. 

    The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (ICPP) created by the United Nations has found that global warming is a real threat to the world and human life, and that it is being accelerated by humans.

    The strikers believe the planet’s warming can be slowed by a collective effort among all people and institutions to make large moves in reducing harm to the environment. As one of the last speakers said at the strike, “If we all work together and do big things, we can make big changes.”

    The marchers began their climate strike on the green itself. They walked around one side of the Club Fair and then stopped beside the art gallery. Here, people put on headpieces made to look like elephants, reindeer, and other animals. A person in the mix shouted, “Are we ready to march for our current climate situation?” The strikers responded with a loud “Yes!” The attention of club members and fairgoers had been grabbed. They watched as the group raised their signs and moved forward toward Main St.

    They marched down Main until they reached the gazebo across from the courthouse in downtown Farmington. Along the way, other strikers joined in and the line stretched fifty feet down the sidewalk. Passing drivers honked their horns and waved at the procession. At the gazebo, people of all ages had already gathered: there were elementary school children standing with their parents, middle and high schoolers, members of the UMF community and other residents of Farmington. 

Éireann Lorsung, a professor in the English department at UMF, stands with her sign as part of the Global Climate Strike.

    In their hands were their own signs: “10 Yrs to Change” on one lady’s fiery orange poster, “The Thermometer is Neither Conservative nor Liberal” on another.  Professor Éireann Lorsung of the English department hoisted a sign displaying a modified line from Shakespeare, “Shall I compare thee to an unlive-ably hot summer’s day?. . .No planet, no poetry.” Her sign included the fact that July 2019 was about 1.2℃ (34.16℉) warmer than the pre-Industrial era.

    As the protest gained attention, some ideological contentions arose when onlookers voiced differing opinions from those of the protesters. A group of motorcyclists drove by while a UMF student spoke and one of riders yelled, “Why don’t you run for president?” “Go Trump!” was yelled by some passing motorists as they revved their engines. 

    However, some commuters slowed to read each of the signs or gawk at the person in the fish headpiece who stood by the side of the road. A firefighter in his truck had asked a few questions about the strike while waiting for the stoplight to turn green.

A Tale of Two Improv Groups

Ciera Miller Contributing Writer

    On March 29, Lincoln Auditorium was bursting with laughter, and not just from UMF’s resident improv group, The Lawn Chair Pirates (LCP), but also from a special guest improv group, the Teachers Lounge Mafia (TLM). First on their own and then together, the groups fueled stomach splitting shenanigans the entire night.

   Steffon Gales of LCP had worked previously with his Practicum teacher, Dan Ryder, in a earlier LCP/TLM collaboration, and Gales thought it might be fun to have one more performance with the TLM before graduating. Together, the two began planning and soon the night was born.

    Members of both groups were eager for the collaboration. “They were all for it,” Gales said of LCP. Jeff Bailey and Kyla Wheeler of the Teachers Lounge Mafia expressed their own excitement. They’d only had one rehearsal before the performance, and although every improv group has their “own flavor, own vibes”, the two worked well together.

   Audrey Keith, recently inducted into LCP, was nervous but she’d worked with Ryder before as he was one of her previous teachers, so she knew his brand of humor and appreciated it. “It’s a little weird to play ‘Sex is like…’ with my old teacher,” Keith said.

   Even Neil Noilette knew the other group. “I play D&D with Jeff and my dad,” Noilette said, “so it made it easier.” Though he was a little wary as well. “If it’s not good,” Noilette said, “it’s 50% not our fault!”

    But the performance was phenomenal, and 50% of it was LCP’s fault.

    The first third of the show was designated to TLM, to introduce the crowd to a new kind of comedy. LCP agreed that the other group had a more experienced style as they have been doing improv for longer. TLM introduced their game “Clickable”, the exact opposite of LCP’s notorious game “Sniper”, and is incidentally where “Sniper” originated from.

   “Yeah, one of the older members took ‘Clickable’, where you ask a person which character they want to know more about, and thought, ‘Hey, what if instead, you killed them?’” Wheeler said, laughing.

   LCP were up to their own tricks in their third of the show. Memorably, Jeremy Tingdahl and Brock Bubat played ‘Nouner’, where the audience gave Tingdahl three nouns and he had to explain them all to Brock, who had to guess what they were. The first noun laid some heavy unhappiness on Michelle Obama’s school lunch policies, the second took Bubar to France where he’d forgotten what Paris was called and was convinced that Tingdahl’s arm was a baguette, and the third noun brought them to a mountain side where Tingdahl tried help Bubar understand that he wasn’t talking about goats, but about llamas. “Brock, they spit, like this,” Tingdahl had said, then acted it out.

   The two groups melded well together. The way that Ryder and Eil Mowry held (and dropped) Simba at Pride Rock caused the audience to burst into laughter. Eli’s comment “Can’t we just get a new one?” struck a similar chord, followed by Ryder retrieving a new baby that seemed more like a zebra than a lion.

   Keith survived playing “Sex is like…” with her former teacher, and it was just like he was another member of her improv group. In ‘The Dating Game’, Gales’ famous character Julian (a young boy going through puberty) found love with Bailey’s Shakira character, though Hailey Craig’s Captain Marvel and Phil Hobby’s kleptomaniac continuously eating nachos created some competition.

   “There was no need to figure out the chemistry, it was just there,” Gales said. The groups expect to collaborate again in the future. Gales hopes, since it’s his last semester at the UMF, that LCP can continue to interact with the Farmington community after he leaves. “We are part of it,” Gales said, “so we should interact more in it.”

    Gales’ last show is April 27 in Lincoln Auditorium. This show will also be the final LCP performance Nick D’Aleo and Jonas Maines as well. TLM will be performing on April 26 at Mount Blue high school.

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