So, it’s a Sunday afternoon in Spring and I’m walking home. I’ve been sick all week and I’m tired. I approach one of, if not the steepest hills in town, which I must climb. On it, I see two grade school age boys throwing a ball back and forth. I’d seen them earlier that day in the yard of a house immediately adjacent, so I know where they live and/or are visiting. One of the boys is completely turned away from oncoming traffic and has no view of it. They are in a really bad location to be playing since drivers coming over the rise have a huge blind spot and won’t be expecting children in the street as they prepare to coast down the hill. In fact I watch one car slow and swerve as the boys run to the curb.
I have already considered and discarded cautioning them about the wisdom of their chosen playground, and besides, I see the pair move their game of catch to the sidewalk. It’s the only sidewalk on this part of the road; i.e, I can’t cross the street and avoid them. I consider for perhaps a fraction of a second stepping into the street to go around but all the reasons it was a bad idea for them make it a bad idea for me.
My concern now is not getting thwacked in the head with the ball as I’ve already seen they aren’t particularly skilled and I’ll be passing very close. Fortunately, they stop their play as I come alongside them where the hill is steepest. I can see the father, a male adult at any rate, right there in the driveway so I know he’s sanctioned the ball playing in the street as well as that on the sidewalk. He says nothing to me or the children and busies himself with setting up a table with what looks like food.
I move at the pace I have been, but there’s some distance to traverse and as I walk upward, I can see the impatience in the stance of the child facing me, not to mention he is sort of popping the ball in his hands, as if anxious to throw it and he wants me to know that. There is no deference in his expression or posture. I move past him and just as I do he snidely says, “You’re welcome.” After I pummel his head into the concrete sidewalk and wipe the blood from my hands….I’m kidding. I do have the presence of mind to turn back and say, “It’s a public sidewalk.” I say it calmly sans attitude which I’m too fatigued and unmotivated to muster anyway.
Kids have mouthed off to me before on occasion, but they’ve tended to do it when they felt anonymous, not smack in front of their house with an adult they’re connected to so close at hand. Now though, all I want is to get home. It isn’t worth any more trouble and I know it. I also know where a kid like that would pick up his sense of entitlement and have a pretty darn good idea who he’d heard accost strangers with snotty commentary like You’re welcome before. And it wasn’t someone on TV.