To the tweenage jerk who flipped me off today:
Believe me when I tell you that I wish I could have breezed on past and simply not taken notice of your ruffian behaviour. I wish that I could have neglected the fact that you were riding by on your dumb, ridiculously undersized BMX bikes, kicking over full garbage cans and laughing as all of the trash flowed outwards to the streets.
Oh how I long that I was the kind of person who is too soft spoken or shy to call out to you and ask why you’d engage in such acts of blatant disrespect.
Alas, I am none of these things.
There I was walking my children home from school when I saw you a block away zipping along with your little posse of pubescent patsies wreaking havoc on my neighbourhood.
At first when I heard the sound of the large garbage can smashing to the pavement, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Surely there weren’t young humans committing acts of rebellion right in front of me? Surely they would be frightened of getting in trouble?
After all, these children couldn’t have been any older than 12 or 13 with their Justin Bieber haircuts and unreasonably taut cuffed slacks.
These were the things that were racing through my mind as I stopped and stared at the dire goings-on you were crafting before my disbelieving eyes.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m hip and with-it, so I attempted to approach you in a civilized manner in which you teeny-boppers could jive with.
“Um, excuse me fellas tipping those cans over isn’t cool man,” were my words to you, and yes in your defence, perhaps they were said in a bit of a distrustful tone.
Call me naïve but I really did think this would do the trick. I can remember back in my day when an adult confronted me when doing something I wasn’t supposed to and I nearly pooped myself with that foreboding fear of authority.
However, apparently in this day in age, there is no such thing as fear of authority (or maybe it is just that I do not evoke those types of reservations in your younger generation).
Now what happened next is a bit of a blur because a blinding rage set in shortly after my sentence ended. You began to laugh and point at me, whooping it up and yelling, “Yeah right, whatever!”
I was appalled. Outraged. And quite frankly, my feelings were hurt.
So I did what any self-respecting adult would do. I attempted to preserve my influence as the grownup of the situation by shouting angrily back at you. I told you that you were no-good little ingrates. And that if I was your mother you’d be getting the walloping of your life for taking such a disrespectful tone with an elder.
I was beginning to think that I may be getting through to those pubertal brains since you had slowed your roll and were now looking at me as I spoke.
“So,” I paused, “What do you have to say for yourself? Go and pick up those garbage cans and I don’t want to see you doing that again!”
I was feeling good. I was feeling proud of doing something first-rate in my community. After all, it takes a village as they say.
Just before my head started to really swell from this deed of good-doery, I saw the leader of your pack’s hand move. It was as though it happened in slow motion.
He reached slowly towards the sky, as though attempting to fist bump with the big-guy upstairs. But instead he slowly, methodically, raised his middle finger with a vengeance that will stick with me for days to come.
“F— you, lady!”
And there ends the tale of me, you and the tipped over garbage cans. I’d like to say I got in a few good comebacks before you pedalled off into oblivion but I was too horror struck to say anything at all.
I truly hope this was a simple case of “boys being boys” and perhaps those boys had taken it a little too far. Because if this is what our future generation feels is a suitable way to look after their elders, well folks, come old age, we’re all screwed.
Lindsay Brown is a Sylvan Lake mother of two and freelance columnist.