Saturday, September 13, 2008

IT TAKES A VILLAGE

I was driving the 11 route down Nicollet Mall later one night last week. I pulled up to the bus shelter near 5th street. There were about 7-9 teenagers in the shelter. They were drinking booze straight from a large bottle, shooting dice for money, smoking cigarettes and one kid was even rolling up a "blunt". This was all very open, like it was alright to do.

At first, I really didn't think all that much about it. I may even have had a flashback or two to my own teen years. Then the bus in front of me pulled off and I noticed a handicapped man and woman just past the shelter who were waiting for my bus. The lady walked down and boarded my bus. She asked me to pull up and pick up her husband. He had a very large shiny wooden cane about 2 inches in diameter. He had pretty severe problems walking, so I can't imagine standing was easy for him either.

That's when I got angry. The lady was saying how they would have liked to sit in the shelter but the rowdy kids took up the whole thing. I moved the bus up a little so my door was directly in front of the shelter door. I opened my door and just sat there watching the wild teens. Finally, one of them realized they were being watched and tried, not so discreetly, to tell his friends. They turned to look at me. I shook my head and said "Smoking, drinking, gambling and rolling a blunt...all on camera." I pointed to the camera above my head that points out the door directly at them. I shook my head more and said "Really not a good idea. There are cameras all over downtown." (This is true. Police monitor them right from downtown so they can react quickly.) One kid smoking a cigarette took a step out of the shelter, smiled and apologized for smoking in the shelter. The one with the bottle of booze tried unsuccessfully to hide it by the side of his leg. His blunt-rolling buddy tried to hide his forbidden smoke next to his own leg. They apparently think next-to-the-leg is a good spot...it's not.

I moved the bus up and picked up the handicapped man. I was still upset that these people that obviously NEEDED to sit and wait for the bus were not able to use the shelter for its intended purpose because of these selfish kids. I called Control and told them of the situation and requested the police go take care of it. Besides, I'm sure it was past curfew and it was a school night.

As people got off at their stops, I believe about 4-5 of them thanked me for calling in on the kids. One lady even said that if one of her kids was out there doing that type of thing she hoped someone would call and have them stopped.

Like the old saying goes...it takes a village to raise a child.

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