Webster’s definition of manners:
Etiquette, Decorum, Refinement, Good Manners, Polite ways of social behavior.
I was on patrol the other day when I saw three teens crossing the street. Actually, they were jaywalking but what caught my attention was that two of them were eating from a fast food bag and dropping the wrappers in the street as they walked. I stopped next to them and asked them if they dropped something. After a few replies of “huh?, I asked them how they would like it if I went to their house and threw a bunch of garbage and wrappers in their yard and their reply was “this ain’t nobody’s yard”. I felt like asking them if their mama ever taught them any manners but from the looks of how these rebel teens acted, I already knew the answer.
I told them I didn’t appreciate them throwing their garbage down in my city and I made them walk back in the street to pick up the wrappers. The only real satisfaction I got was that there was a slight breeze blowing and the wrappers were now some distance away and still blowing away. I sat and watched as the teens chased the wrappers down the street and returned with them in their hands. They also had quite a mad and embarrassed look on their faces. Not embarrassed that it was wrong to litter, but embarrassed that I caught them and made them chase down the wrappers in front of commute traffic. I told them to find the nearest garbage can or wait until they got home to throw away their garbage. I’m sure the minute they went around the corner they threw their garbage down again and gave me a few hand gestures, but I had made my point to them, at least for the moment.
Yesterday I was driving down an industrial road and saw two teens on the sidewalk. One was walking and the other had a shoe off and was hopping on one leg. A forklift was stuck against a nearby curb in the middle of nowhere, away from any businesses. The forklift’s location told the whole story even before I contacted the teens. The kids lied at first telling me they had nothing to do with the forklift. After finding the key to the forklift in one of the kid’s pockets, they continued the lie with how they found the forklift in the street and tried to move it so no one would hit it.
After an area check, I quickly found the owner of the forklift and a witness who saw the kids spinning “donuts” in the street with the forklift. Turns out the kids stole the forklift from a business a ¼ mile away and drove it around until they hit the curb and broke one of the wheels. The teen that was hopping either got his foot caught in-between the wheel and curb or got it run over by the forklift. He was in great pain with a rapidly swelling and purple foot. While the kid’s father was in route to my location to take him to the hospital, I spoke with both teens that were 12 & 13 years old.
Neither teen had any remorse for stealing and damaging the forklift. Neither teen realized that they had committed a serious crime. Neither teen realized how seriously they could have been hurt, or even killed. The owner of the forklift said that he was shocked that the kids didn’t flip the forklift over the way they were driving it. Turns out that the teens were the same ones who caused over $6000 damage to a local school during a late night vandalism spree just one month earlier. The teens broke over 100 windows, set off fire extinguishers and ruined computers.
How is it that kids can do something like steal a forklift or car, vandalize property or throw down their garbage in public without thinking that they did anything wrong? It’s called manners and respect, something that a lot of kids lack today. I asked one of the teens that had stolen the forklift what he wanted to do when he grew up and he said nothing. I pressured him and asked him what he wanted to be doing 10 years from now and he finally said he really wanted to be a photographer.
This kid actually has a dream but no one knows about it due to non-caring parents at home. Instead of pursuing his dream, he’s out stealing things and ruining other people’s property. The irresponsible parents should be encouraging and helping their child pursue his dream. After meeting mom, It was obvious that she couldn’t care less about her son’s dream. She was too busy figuring out where her next high was going to come from.
I remember when I first moved into a new house with my family. A beautiful, quiet, peaceful neighborhood. Then the new high school opened up nearby and what a change when school let out. Kids throwing down garbage as they walked across the street, teens not obeying traffic lights, thinking all cars should stop for them as they shuffle slowly across the street against a red light. And one thing that really pissed me off was seeing some punk throwing glass bottles up in the air and breaking them on a brand new walking trail.
Many of these kids don’t live in the neighborhood. These are kids from other neighborhoods (often low income or run down neighborhoods) that take buses to go to “a nice school” Some are even from different cities that use a relatives address so they can to go to a new up-to-date facility. These are the same kids who ruin the school and neighborhood with their lack of respect attitude. The bus stops are full of loud disrespectful teens throwing down garbage and breaking bottles even though a garbage can is 5 feet from them. After 4 PM and on weekends after the disrespectful punks have gone home, the neighborhood is back to the quiet peaceful place it was. I’m sure I sound bitter and that’s because I am. If parents taught their children respect and manners, the world would be a much safer and enjoyable place.
I’m not going to go into gangs or teen violence here, I’m sure if you look through the archives you’ll find stories me or Jim wrote regarding those topics. But it all starts at home. I see parents throw a garbage bag out of a car window at a stoplight with kids in the back seat. How is a kid going to know that it is wrong if mom and dad do it? What I’m talking about here is the basics. Respect for other people, other people’s property, and manners.
I get in a coffee shop drive-thru line and I see a group of teens sitting at a table. One is carving something into the wooden table with a knife, another is spitting on other chairs, and the whole group is swearing and talking about their sexual escapades with girls at school. All this in front of moms with kids in the drive-thru line and customers walking by. What happened to manners? Yes, kids can be kids, but they should have some respect for others around them. When I was that age, I never would have sworn in front of a stranger or littered in front of someone. I had respect for adults, authority and other people’s property. That’s what I was taught at home.
Kids of today seem to lack respect for themselves, lack of respect for others and lack of respect for other people’s property. Kids of today seem to think nothing of telling a cop to fuc* off, steal from their neighbors or trash someone’s property. When I grew up, most kids had a two-parent household and got their butts whooped if they got out of line. That generated respect for authority and a fear of doing wrong. Something kids of today lack.
Someone needs to take responsibility. Parents, grandparents, somebody. Someone needs to teach the kids of today some manners. Someone needs to teach the kids of today some type of respect. If not, the world will only get worse and there’s no one to blame but irresponsible parents who are raising (or abandoning) irresponsible kids.
I think it’s too late for some of the teens of today but let’s start now with the young ones, or our grandkids. Let’s try to instill a little respect and pride for the community while the kids are young, and maybe one day there might be another Mayberry that we can all enjoy.