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wayworn traveler

October 12, 2007

I’m fainting with exhaustion tonight after walking back and forth to Deer Valley two days in a row.

It’s dark when I leave at six thirty, and the sun rises on the way, which is very nice. Yesterday was clear, so started out with Venus (I presume) high in the east and wound up with the sun a huge orange ball sitting on the horizon. Today was rainy, luckily only a little in the morning; a lot on the way back, but fortunately no wind, so I didn’t get too wet. But it was very tiring.

There have been so many problems with/complaints about the kids who hang out on Lone Tree Way, and though I normally stay on the street and out of the shopping centers, I do see large groups of kids just loitering at many places along the way. When I work in the library I don’t leave till 4 o’clock, so this is a good hour and a half after school lets out.

Yesterday there was a large group– maybe eleven kids– standing in front of one of the fast-food places: mostly boys, but two or three girls as well. As I came along the sidewalk one of the boys chased and wrestled one of the girls to the ground and began whacking her on the rear end. It was clearly horseplay rather than assault, but looked beyond the limits of safe and comfortable to me. She got up after a few seconds, but when he did it a second time I detoured off the sidewalk and up into the parking lot, hoping to dampen their spirits with my gloomy presence.

Believe me, the LAST thing I feel like doing at the end of a long day is interfering with a cohort of nearly-grown adolescents whose behavior is less than calm and judicious. But I just felt that if this girl needed an out I’d better take a closer look. I ended up walking through the group and into the restaurant, which did derail things for a few minutes just by altering the dynamic; when I came out, they were beginning again, right next to the doors. I looked the girl in the eye and asked her “Are you all right?” to which she replied “Yes… no… call the police… ha ha ha” etc.; I didn’t feel that she was fully at ease with the situation, but she was clearly in it voluntarily and didn’t choose to disengage (there was no ground-wrestling at this point, just chasing and grabbing). So I left and continued on my way, feeling that things would probably remain reasonably contained, but frankly disturbed by the absolute purposelessness and ugly undertone this group exhibited.

What would you have done?

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