Reaching Out

So, last night as I was leaving the parking garage where my car rests every night, I found my self wondering what I would be writing about next. A few thoughts rolled through my head as I opened the door that leads out onto the street and I saw something that made me smile. I don’t know the back story, or indeed, if there is one at all. It just caught me by surprise and gave me a bit of hope, I guess.

As I stepped into the sunny spring afternoon, I saw a couple of archetypical skater types coming down the street. Low slung, baggy pants, chain wallet, chin scruff, hats with perfectly flat brims, rotated a minimum of 45º from forward and sporting a variety of dark arm and neck tattoos.

The road is pretty flat there and actually climbs just a little bit. They were pushing along, tiny wheels grinding away on the left over sand from an icy winter. No sooner had I noticed the duo coming, then up from behind them came a woman on a bicycle. She was about forty five-ish, wore a kind of geeky helmet and riding gloves. Her bike was of the kind owned by an enthusiastic and committed bike rider; the type you would see riding in the rain. It was even fitted with panniers. Judging by her clothes, it was fairly obvious that she was on her way home from work somewhere in the office buildings of downtown.

As she passed the first skater, she flashed big smile and quickly put out an open hand. Skater number one missed the hand but having seen the missed opportunity over his shoulder, skater number two reached out and carefully caught it. Her big smile spread like an electrical charge down her arm and up his. His sullen, tough guy visage broke into a look of pure glee as they quickly zipped past me, hand in hand, far ahead of his buddy now, who was feverishly kicking at the ground, failing miserably to keep up.

Perhaps she knows these guys. Maybe one of them is her son or one of his buddies. I have no idea. Honestly, I don’t care to know. It was such a great little vignette to catch, I don’t want to spoil it with details. I just like seeing the unexpected. If it can include people being nice to each other, so much the better.

Was it a foolish move on her part? Perhaps. All sorts of thing could have happened, even if she does know them. Still, it’s great to see folks from different walks of life reach out and enjoy a moment.

I love where I live.

So much work to be so bad

On my way home I narrowly avoided having to bodycheck a thirteen year old to get to my destination. It must be spring. Let me explain…

Where I live is a great view of the human species. Action Girl and I have lived in the same area for the last ten years and within those years we’ve watched some interesting changes. The most startling one is with the local kids. We’ve now watched the teenagers in the neighborhood grow up, clean up, move away, or get busted and sent to the county farm. We’ve also watched the kids who were not more than tots grow up to some degree and try to find their place in the world.

All the kids you’d expect are there. The ones from poor but hard working parents who rebel and decide to become musicians. There are the ones who’s folks are very well off, send him to an elite private school but who insists on dressing mainly from the salvation army and sporting dreadlocks. The blue collar families, the well off ones, the troubled ones and even a some really good, loving families who support and help each other and others. Your basic mix.

One thing about where we live. Though we are near a good sized city, we are on the fringes of it. This means that there is really not a lot for the youth to do, especially as a group. Nowhere to hang out and be seen. What shall they do? Obviously, the answer is to skateboard and I would hesitate to say that most of them do, or in the case of most of the teenagers here… alright all of them, skateboard badly.

Now I am not a skater (or should I say, SK8TOR). When I was younger, my primary interest was in the woods out back and since you can’t skate in the woods, then spending good money on a deck was not even vaguely interesting to me. I do however, enjoy watching people who are really good at it. Not that I’d go to see them on purpose, or even know what the names of the moves are, but when anyone is really, really good at just about any task, it stands out. I can appreciate that.

Then there are our locals. I don’t know if it’s something in the water or what, but we seem to have the most hardcore, driven and practiced bunch of skaters who can do… just about nothing right. It’s really bizarre. I go down to the corner store and watch them flail away like salmon trying to jump the Hoover dam. They wind up and scoot along on their miniature wheels, aim for a curb and POW! If their lucky, it’s only the deck that goes flying through the air and lands in a jumble.

By far, the best is this large hill that’s near by. I watch them line up to fly down the hill all while sporting their best “I don’t care about the world” look to the imaginary spectators. That is… right up until you can watch the fear start to creep in. It’s a good sized hill with just a few issues on the way down, but the real fun is that it ends abruptly in a forest of steel and cement barriers. Stopping involves the removal of several millimeters of sneaker tread and possibly knee and elbow skin. Every summer I watch at least one spectacular train wreck.

It’s early in the season for the WWS (worlds worst skaters). There’s a lot of sand still on the streets and sidewalks, not to mention unhelpful chunks of still frozen dog poop and ice lingering in the shadows. That hasn’t stopped them though. They’ve set their itty-bitty wheels crunching along through the sand and grime. Control is still illusive though and it’s best to keep a protective elbow free for deflection when walking through their arena. This can only get more interesting as the crowds that summer brings start to build. Hopefully, by then, the world weary and grizzled seventh grader with the look if “OH CRAP!” on his face won’t be such a factor as I walk home from work.

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