Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Back in my day ...

Another week, another heavy object crashing through some poor trucker’s windshield.

This time, it was a bowling ball in Minnesota. You can read the full account here. It was a miracle, but luckily, no one was killed this time around.

Maybe it’s because I’m only about a decade removed from my teen years, but I can still remember pulling some pretty ridiculous pranks when I was growing up. Of course, I’d never incriminate myself, but I definitely knew some guys who’d gotten pretty good at blowing up mailboxes and pulling the old shovel-on-a-rope-on-the-side-of-the-road trick.

And did you know that if you put a car’s axles on blocks so the tires clear the ground by a fraction of an inch, it’ll confuse the owner for at least 10 minutes? Or that a friend leaving his car doors unlocked will result in an entire box of Rice Krispies in the vents and the air conditioning turned to high? (Just FYI – the latter creates one hell of a mess and won’t do much for your friendship, either.)

My wife grew up in the suburbs, and tells me stories of soaping fountains and TP’ing trees. It just goes to show that no matter where you grow up, you’re bound to pull a prank at least once.

Still, there was always a line. For example, every kid – especially those who grew up in fairly rural areas like I did – thought it was fun to “borrow” road signs. But the unspoken rule that everyone knew was that you didn’t remove anything that could cause an accident.

In other words, “No Parking” was free game. “Stop” and “Yield” signs were completely off-limits. No exceptions.

So what’s changed in the last few years? When did kids stop knowing the difference between a questionable prank and attempted murder? Sure, what we – er, my friends – did may have been sophomoric and, in hindsight, a little dangerous if everything had gone completely wrong, but we weren’t tossing potentially lethal objects at other human beings.

I’m not sure where the problem lies or how to fix it. It could be bad parenting, or an overly violent culture, or maybe both. Regardless, it makes me afraid for myself and for other motorists and truckers who have to add “stupid kids” to their laundry list of hazards on the road.

Plus, I’m way too young to be telling “back in my day” stories. So knock it off, kids. You’re making me feel old.