The other day, the Wife was pulling out of our driveway and saw a gaggle of early teenaged boys. I was not with her. One of them made an offensive gesture (not the middle finger) as she passed. The Wife was flummoxed as to how to react.
I don’t have that particular affliction.
At any rate, she posted about it on the Book of Face and received a myriad of reactions ranging from “do nothing, they know where you live” to say “my husband has a gun and a shovel…I doubt anyone would miss you”. The latter was my personal favorite. I got to thinking about what I would have done had I been with her/near her.
As with anything, there is what I would have liked to have done and what I would probably have done. I have been known to be quick to act/speak in the past and sometimes it’s a good thing…other times, not so much. My initial reaction would have been to slam on the brakes and jump out of my car and get up in their face(s) but quick. No one treats the Wife that way. No one.I was once at a park with the family and there were a bunch of teenagers and they were yelling the f-bomb and the n-word like it was going out of style. There were a ton of little kids at the park. Consequently, there were a ton of adults at the park. Not one of them did/said a damn thing.
Again, I don’t have that particular affliction.
I may not have handled it the best way, I’ll admit, but I handled it and they didn’t continue their behavior. In my opinion, the problem was solved. A while later, a dad came over to me and said I should be careful in dealing with teenagers because someone may think I was harassing them.
Really?!? This is partly what is wrong with this country.
Now, let’s back up to those punk kids on my street. What should have happened was they should have been drug by their ear back home and plopped in front of mom and dad. If the parents are any kind of parents, they’d have handled business from there. If not, then perhaps a brief legal lesson regarding CA Penal Code 415(3) would be in order. I can assure you the gesture was “inherently likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction”. PC 415 (3) requires the use of offensive words, but I’d argue that gestures communicate just as much as words.
That incident got me to thinking about how sad today’s culture (both public and within police work) has become. We’re so scared of offending someone’s tender sensibilities that we are left with inaction. God forbid we hurt someone’s feelings. My goodness, how will their fragile psyche ever recover?
Back in the day, it would have been no problem to grab up little Johnny and drag his happy little ass back to his parents by the ear and tell them what happened. His parents would have given Johnny a well deserved smack and made him regret his actions toward a lady. These days? Heavens, you can’t put your hands on a child. Parents are too afraid to discipline their children with simple consequences. You can forget corporal punishment.
Let’s talk about law enforcement for a second. Used to be you had to have thick skin to be a cop because the teasing was relentless. Now though? Goodness gracious, we don’t want people to get emotionally damaged! What if they end up in therapy? My stars, the humanity. What if you read something about yourself on a website? What if the public makes fun of you? What if *gasp* a blogger calls you out on something? Would your reaction be appropriate or would your whining drown out all other sounds around you?
In my opinion, a good teasing is a great sign of camaraderie. I’m not talking malicious hazing, I’m talking about simple teasing. If you can hack it, it goes to show that you not only have a sense of humor (an incredibly important part of police work, if you ask me), but that you can be part of a team.
I have a nickname that was granted to me about eight years ago after I admittedly did something dumb/silly (note: I didn’t say dangerous and/or illegal). And no, I won’t tell you what it is or what I did, so don’t ask, smarty pants. I will only say it wasn’t a big deal and the joke/prank was funny. Sufficed to say, I embraced it because a) I deserved it and b) to get bent out of shape about it would have been tantamount to showing I couldn’t handle the pressure.
If you can’t handle the pressure of a little good-natured teasing, how can we expect you to handle the pressure of a serious situation?
The direction society is going is frightening. It hasn’t changed overnight. Instead, it has been a steady decline in which parents are afraid to react, people on the street are afraid to react to something for fear of retaliation, and cops themselves are handcuffed in how they can handle situations both in the street and in the PD.
Does this post solve anything? Nope. But my sensibilities feel lighter after offloading them. They’re much less tender now.
Image courtesy of Flickr and macbooklw