The times, they are a' changing

I’m an admitted people-watcher.
Coastal Point

I love sitting down at the boardwalk, the mall, casinos and even office buildings and just watch people go by. I like to imagine the conversations people are having, or try to answer hidden questions in my mind, such as what attracts some people together and do people really buy mesh jerseys anymore?

But perhaps my favorite people-watching activity is watching parents interact with their children — particularly the ones whose behavior is on the poor side. There are parents who just let the kids run wild and crazy, those who constantly chirp at them for the slightest act and those who are just nuts. Oh, you know them when you see them. They are constantly red in the face and look like at any given time they’re likely to launch into full-bore spanking mode or just have a complete nervous breakdown where they stand.

And then, well, there are the parents who try to teach their children tough lessons.

The Associated Press recently ran a story about a woman in Tennessee who was adamant that her child not smoke. She decided the best way to curb any future cigarette addiction was to give him a smoke at a young age, thus putting that bad taste in his mouth for a lifetime. A couple problems here.

First, she did it in her car, and a witness alerted police to it. The second problem was that the child was 5. Ah, yes. There was a third problem here. The woman also had a bag of marijuana in her car at the time.

I remember my own father catching me with chewing tobacco one baseball practice when I was 12. He was pretty furious, and he went to the store, bought a pack of Levi Garrett tobacco and made me chew through the whole pack at the house. I was sick for days. But, to be honest, it didn’t really stop me. I just didn’t chew a pack in six hours ever again.

But let me point out some differences in these two stories. First, my father already caught me doing this once and wanted to stop it immediately. I doubt the 5-year-old had a pack of smokes rolled up in his sleeve. Another problem is I was 12 at the time, not 5. I know it doesn’t sound like much to an adult, but that’s a pretty significant age difference. The last point is that my incident was in 1980, not 2010.

These are different times. We’ve become more tolerant of each other. We’ve grown as humans, even if we’ve disintegreated as far as political differences go. We’re firmly in the age of “time-outs” to discipline our children, as we’ve come to the collective conclusion that kids are now adults, and reason is the way to go. Of course, I still believe a decent spanking sends a stronger message to ...

But I digress. I don’t need more activists jumping on me.

However, it is important to note that these are different times. One major change I’ve noticed is the increased activity of people as they get older. Take this case, for instance.

The UPI reported that a 65-year-old woman chased down a thief who had swiped a purse from the woman’s 85-year-old mother on a street in St. Paul, Minn. According to police, the woman chased the guy, who then pulled out a knife and cut the woman on the cheek. He then dropped the purse after the woman broke his weapon with her cane, and took off in his Buick. A witness took down the man’s license plate number and police were able to arrest him a short time later.

The man is 52 years old.

Of course, maybe the story there wasn’t the activity of seniors as much as it is a tale of our depressed economy. You don’t expect 52-year-old purse-snatchers, or 65-year-old woman risking her life for a purse. Hurting for money would explain both.

It could also explain another story I discovered in Minnesota. The AP reported that the city of Edina will no longer provide free bags for people to clean up after their dogs, because people have been stealing the poop bags from the city’s parks.

Of course, if more people were civic-conscious and people-watching, that could have been curbed. Get it? “Curbed.” That’s gold, folks.