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I looked around and saw only one bench open, so I walked toward it. As I approached, I finished my coffee. I was only able to identify one garbage can that was not overflowing. I briefly detoured from my route and tossed my cup successfully into the opening of the can. I then continued to venture to that empty bench, just fast enough to ensure that no one else would have time to steal it, but not too fast as to require too much energy from my lazy legs.
I took a seat. I read the news, unaffected by the lack of quality stories. I quickly became bored with the desperate attempts to create a story out of something as insignificant as a lost puppy that was hiding in the closet the whole time. I watched. I watched the people. I liked people-watching. It was the only thing that provided me with some form of entertainment in this rural, empty town. I was fascinated with these people. How could they live in this little town with nearly nothing besides a diner, post office, and tiny bed & breakfast? They were somehow perfectly satisfied with their bland lives. And I just couldn’t believe it.
They did eventually bore me, though. How many times can one person repeat the same routine? They were all generic. No one had any streak of individuality.
As I was saying before, the newspaper was practically just a large piece of blank paper. There was never anything interesting happening in this town, good or bad. It was just like yesterday, in the news world: slow. Slow, slow, slow. And it would be that way tomorrow too. I’m not saying we need a massive amount of murders, or a huge robbery, or something. All I mean is, well, God forbid anyone try to pick pocket someone else. That’s not too much to ask for, is it?
The thoughts began to trail off, and my eyes began to gloss over. I spaced out. Typical. My mind had almost lost touch with reality after all these years of nothingness. It was never stimulated. I can’t really say I’m surprised that my mind is so desperate to reach an imaginary world – wouldn’t you do the same if you lived in a town where there were hardly a thousand people and everyone was all up in each other’s business? Exactly.
But then I heard a scream. It was a miracle. Yes – this was my immediate reaction; rejoice. Someone was finally acting out in this lifeless hellhole. My neck whipped around. It was a middle-aged woman on a bicycle. Well, she used to be on a bicycle. But not anymore. He had pushed her off. It wasn’t as cool as I had hoped – there weren’t any ski masks, automatic weapons, or black, ninja outfits. But I guess it would have to do. Honestly, at this point, that was enough to satisfy me. That woman looked like a chicken without its head, scrambling after the Bike Bandit, as I had now branded him. It was pointless. Did she not understand that a man on anything with wheels, especially a younger man with endurance, would not be easily reached by a woman such as herself? I watched her struggle to regain her balance as she stumbled and tripped her left foot with her other left foot. It was almost humorous. Although I wouldn’t have laughed as much if she had been blind because that was a definite possibility. I still would have laughed though.
And he was obviously a local. Anyone with a brain would have planned a better escape route than through the maze of bushes and trees that bordered the park. This lunatic decided he was going to steal an old woman’s twenty year old rust pile, and efficiently escape through a pity-worthy ‘forest’ blanketed with branches and roots? How hard is it to notice the clearly defined pathway about twenty yards south of his chosen entrance point? I’ll answer that for you: not hard. A deranged monkey would be able to find it.
There was a silly looking rent-a-cop on a bicycle that suddenly appeared, hunched over his handle bars, snarling. I giggled. A few people turned around and glared at me with disgust.
There were also a few people who tried to chase after the Bike Bandit, unsuccessfully of course, but the mass of them decided to just watch with awe. And by mass, I mean about ten people, myself included. Nine of them were horrified. One of them was fascinated. I realized that he probably was a disgrace to other people who identified as a criminal, so I opted to stick with “bandit”.
Eventually the group of bystanders joined in with this neighborhood search party. Minus me of course. I leisurely paced up to the scene in fascination. My convulsive twitches from holding in my laughter were poorly hidden. I fought the urge to clap. It was a wonderfully theatrical show. How could I be so inconsiderate? Well, I hate this town, and it hates me back. I have no problem encouraging a little misdemeanor now and then.
I eventually reached the spot that had been the site of her dramatic breakdown. She was crying in hysterics. Classic. Just like this town. The man stole your bike that you should have thrown out ten years ago anyway, so you cry like you just lost a child to the Grim Reaper. He honestly was doing her a favor. I bet you twenty dollars that the thing didn’t stay in one piece for even fifty yards into the woods. But she loved the attention. She was milking it. She knew she was being dramatic. I knew that she knew. She probably knew that I knew. But no one else knew. So I kept my mouth shut and let the show go on as the suspense was just killing me.
The other reason I knew he was from around her was that he was too stupid to actually steal her purse. Granted there’s probably only a dollar or two, some rusty nails, and a button or two in the thing. Again, twenty bucks says so. Isn’t the goal of a thief to take something of value? Now, I’m not saying her bag was of any value, but I’m saying that he would be two dollars and a rusty nail richer than he was before. And that might very well be a big deal for him. I mean really, just give it a shot. Even if you miss and only get the bike, at least you manned up and tried.
The search party returned, after a surprisingly lengthy period of time. I realized I should probably try to avoid being stoned to death with words, so I pretended to have been comforting the ‘victim’. Not for her sake, but for mine. The last thing I needed was for these people to hate me. People here may be lazy as hell, but they’re very clear about how they feel when people disrespect one of their own. There’s a whole lot of pride and ego in these cobblestone streets, but I have yet to discover what they actually have to pride themselves on. If they were to see me enjoying this woman’s pain, I might as well grab some popcorn and enjoy it, because it’d be my last cinema experience ever.
As long as I can make it another few days to Monday without everyone chasing me down, I’ll be fine. It’s only gonna be three days, two hours and seventeen minutes ‘til I board that plane to Nashville anyway. And that is when the events of my life will matter.