Monday, May 26, 2008

Brother, can you spare your wallet, and keys ... oh - and your cell phone?

I raised my son in the suburbs where I was raised. Like my parents, I wanted a safe, leafy green environment where neighbors kept an eye out for each other and our children. I wanted good schools where he could prepare for whatever future he set his sights on. I wanted a town where crime was remarkable only in its infrequency and violence, generally, remained at a distance – preferably, on TV. He thrived out here, growing into a strong, good man. And, he became restless (predictably) within the borders of the town.

Now, he attends Penn State (more green, but with mountains), and has only come home to visit. He has become restless there too, and dreams of pursuing his art in a city. New York, Tokyo, Toronto, Seoul, – he isn’t picky. So, when the opportunity for an internship in Philadelphia came along, he jumped at it. Philadelphia is not new ground in his mind, but is a city still.

My son has a respectable quantity of street smarts that steers him around truly bone-headed situations. He also has a healthy dose of testosterone which doesn’t. It was the latter that sent him out this morning at 3 AM for SNACKS in Center City. Likewise, testosterone drove two men to rob him at knife point on a dark street. Gone were the wallet, keys (locking him out of his apartment), and cell phone (preventing him from calling his roommates to let him into his apartment).

They told him not to follow them, along with various other threats, all roundly and righteously ignored. When he chased them around a corner, an accomplice was waiting to punch him in the face. Who says organized crime is not thriving? Thankfully, they did not hurt him seriously. Possessions can be replaced much more easily than blood. I stopped the cards and suspended the phone for him. His girlfriend had the numbers he needed to get in touch with his roommates. He is safe – and annoyed.

One bright moment came when his girlfriend told me the robbers (she called them “louses”) texted her, "Hi." "Hi yourself," she responded, then wrote "You are bad people whose karma is tainted, and until you rectify what you do to people, no good will come to you!" I imagine they were a bit taken aback. I love my son’s girlfriend.

What gets me is the complete lack of concern from the police. They took his statement, and gave him an official report to protect him from illegal credit card charges and such. What they did not do was ANYTHING about the crime itself. They did not take his address or phone number, and, therefore, cannot contact him to press charges, a clear indication that they did not plan to search for suspects. Certainly, they have bigger crimes to solve (123 murders and counting), but I have to think that the attitudes about the small crimes must lay the foundation for the larger ones. It’s no stretch to imagine some “louse” thinking, “Hey that was easy. Next time I’ll do TWO robberies! And, maybe sometime I’ll have to stab a brother!” Oh well.

How many of the over 120 murders that have occurred in Philadelphia this year have been committed by someone emboldened by getting away with the smaller stuff first? How many have watched a police car drive by, smiled and thought that no one cares about the crime they just committed – especially black on black crime (my son wondered why everyone wanted to know what color his attackers were. Was it a demographic thing? ). And, how many think that this is the price of life in the big city, and let it lay there?

For those who dismiss this is just another country mouse running smack dab into the cold reality of the big, bad city rats (boo hoo), I tell you this: If you don’t care, and your friends don’t care, and your neighbors don’t care, and even the police don’t care, all the Hope in the world won’t help you.


Lori Skoog said...

I am so sorry to hear about your son! I totally agree with what you have written. Years ago we had the same experience with the police in this small town. They actually told us if we pressed charges we might have more trouble.

I figured out how to make a playlist, but I am still not clear as to where I actually paste the code. Not a techie by a long shot.

By the way, you write beautifully.

Lori Skoog said...

Thanks for the kind words. I made your site one of my links after your first comment. It will be fun to follow what's happening outside of the future I hope it's all good news.