Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Another Walk with Me

Today, I was approaching the high school on my mid-day walk. Yes, the big local high school with it's broad Frank Lloyd Wright eves. I've written about it before. Here it is.
School has just begun for the year--a day or two ago. And as I approached, I saw a small cluster of students on the sidewalk about a block in front of me, and I heard a loud, adult-male voice that seemed to be shouting commands. The voice sounded possibly Caribbean, reminding me of the man from Trinidad who often does work around our house. I could not make out the words, but they kept coming.
     As I got closer, I was able to discern that this man was some official from the high school, and he was telling the young people to move down the street, away from the house beside which they stood. Our town is densely populated, with houses all around the high school, and over the years, there have been complaints from those who live nearby about students being disruptive or loud, or littering. I will say right off that the man who was telling the students to move was black, and the students were white. None of them looked like trouble makers (the man or the kids). One girl was trying to eat a piece of pizza.
     Because it took me a while to come up into the action, I missed some of the dialogue, but the kids did begrudgingly begin to move themselves along, and I heard one boy say, "We're not on private property. We're not on anyone's property." Which was certainly true. As I passed the man, I nodded in sympathy with him and said, "Hard job." And he nodded to show casual agreement.
     As I continued on, turning this scene over in my mind, as I so often do with scenes I witness along my way, I thought I could have said to the group, and especially to the boy who made the protest about the private property, that he was correct. But correct does not always mean right. For example, what if someone in the house that they were clustered beside had been up all night working, and needed to sleep but couldn't because of the noise they were making?
     What if an exhausted parent was trying to put a child down for a nap?
     What if someone had a home office and was trying to concentrate on an important and complex problem?
     What if someone was ill and in pain and need to rest?
     Wouldn't they want to make life easier for those people in the house? 
Life becomes less carefree, perhaps, when one has to think about such matters. And I'm all for carefree youth, to the extent it is possible. But I do wish I could have engaged those kids in conversation. That I'd thought to. That I had the courage. Perhaps they would have rolled their eyes. But perhaps, they would have gone right back to school to join this club.



5 comments:

Anonymous said...

We have all been in situations where kids are -behaving like kids. Those who live where young people congregate for whatever reason, (being near their school engaging with their friends, (citing your example) are not doing anything wrong. This is not a color or race matter of student or the school official whose job it is to "push the kids along". Along where? Would he be doing the same job if adults were as noisy waiting for a parents' meeting to begin? While I sympathize for the official having such a bad job, unless laws are broken, people of any age have the right not to be silent in public places.
Those who live near schools (we did for ten years) railroad tracks, fire departments and other inherently noisy places would be unrealistic to expect quiet during any hours of business operation.
Young people are just that and they will have plenty of time to consider your "What ifs" when they are older.
While I agree with your compassionate views, I side with the students.

Rose D. Sigman/rasirds@cox.net

Susan Messer said...

Yes, I see you point. Just felt an interest in engaging with the young people, seeing how they think. I don't see it as a matter of taking sides. I certainly wasn't against them. Or against the school security guy. Just pondering the way we're all in it together and how we might come to understand those interconnections more deeply.

Anonymous said...

I was not suggesting you are taking sides. I am suggesting that your engagement with the students would probably not have been positive because they don't yet have the wisdom and judgment that age (hopefully, but not always) brings and they were doing nothing wrong.
Thank you for your objective generosity to print my comment although it differed so from yours.

Rose D. Sigman
rasirds@cox.net

Susan Messer said...

Thanks to you, too. Oh, yes, I definitely agree that they were doing nothing wrong, and I agree that they probably would not have liked what I had to say . . . would have misinterpreted it as scolding or criticism. I know I would have at that age.

Patry Francis said...

Miss your voice, Susan.