LJWorld.com weblogs Rolling along
Scofflaws, perverts and drunks (oh, my)
Late one Thursday night (actually early Friday morning) about a month ago, I headed home from work.I made it a block, to Seventh and Mass., where I saw a woman, sitting on the corner, bawling. As I waited for the light to change, I debated whether to intrude. Finally, I asked if she was OK. Her reaction made it clear she wanted to be left alone - I wondered if, perhaps, she just had been dumped by her bicycle-enthusiast boyfriend - so I obliged.Two blocks later, I heard what sounded like a fight, and a big one. I couldn't tell exactly where the combatants were massing, so I pedaled on.About two miles later, in a quiet, residential neighborhood miles from the nearest nightspot, I caught sight of somebody in the roadway ahead. Cautiously I pedaled along and saw it was a young man who had stumbled into the median. He gazed up at a street sign, said, "Wow, man," and fell backward into the grass. I considered stopping to offer assistance, but he seemed to be in such a happy place, I rode on.Then about a half mile from my home, I came upon a car with the hood up. A strange glow came from under the hood. As I pulled up, I saw three youths tugging and pounding on the engine, which was illuminated by a cell phone. Again, I thought about stopping, but I know nothing about cars, so the most assistance I could have provided was the use of a cell phone, which they already had.So I rode on.First and foremost, this unusually eventful ride reinforced the notion that, for some, the weekend actually begins on Thursday. (You'll note I didn't say "Thursday is the new Friday," primarily because I detest the whole "is the new" construction. It's lazy. As in, "Green is the new black." What the heck does that mean? Green is slimming? AC/DC now sings "Back in Green?" or the Stones' rock with the equally anthemic "Paint it Green?" Johnny Cash is the Man in Green? I don't think so. Say what you mean. Rant off.)After I got home, though, I wondered if maybe I shouldn't have called the authorities. I don't feel obligated to ring up the popo every time I see something questionable, but I do feel I should help those in need.After all, the bawling woman could have been the victim of some crime, and the dude passed out on the median could have needed medical assistance. The guys working on the car could have used a tow - or maybe they were trying to steal it. I don't know.I have called five-o before, once to report what I thought was a building on fire - the alarm was sounding, after all, and I smelled smoke - and once to report a fight that seemed to be turning into more of a riot.But I've also turned a blind bicycling eye to copulating couples, fisticuffs and more public urination than the free-range dog park sees in a week. I reckon that, because I take side streets whenever possible, often commute close to bar-closing time and ride relatively stealthily, I happen upon more scofflaws than most late-night drivers. And, more often than not, I don't get involved.Of course, if the violation were major, in my determination, I wouldn't hesitate to call in The Man, but a little public indecency never hurt anyone. At least, it didn't hurt me.Still, it's kind of a fuzzy area when to ring up the fuzz and when to let it slide.Bottom line, I try to put myself in the other's shoes. If I just wanted to have a good, public bawl, I'd want to be left alone. If I had too much to drink or otherwise consume, first I'd hope I wasn't alone, but if I wandered off, I'd probably prefer just to sit it out until I felt better. Or not quite so good. And if my car wouldn't run, I wouldn't want to be bothered by a guy who couldn't do a darned thing about it.