Sunday, May 11, 2008

Bus stop conversation

A conversation overheard at a bus stop earlier on today, between a young girl, Ashley, aged about 16, and a couple with a baby, went like this:

Girl: How is your little sister?
Ashley: She is 11 now and she is already smoking.
Girl: 11 and already smoking?
Ashley (laughing): Yes. She went out with some friends last night and only came home at 2 o’clock this morning.

Pause for a few moments and some inconsequential chat.

Girl: Every time I hear of you, you have been fighting again.
Ashley: Oh yes, it happens all the time.
Girl: What has happened to your hair? It used to look different.
Ashley (pulling her hair to one side): Look at what it looks like underneath.
Girl: It is missing!
Ashley: Yeah. I was in a fight with a boy and he grabbed a whole clump and pulled it out.
Girl: Wow!
Ashley: Yeah. We were over there (pointing)…. a group of us. We started to fight and he knocked me to the ground and kicked me in the face. My face was all swollen. It was out here (indicating an improbably massive degree of swelling).
Girl: So what did you do?
Ashley: It was okay. One of my friends caught him and pulled him to the ground. I stood on his face because he had trodden on mine…

That was the moment at which the bus arrived, so I heard no more.

Compare this conversation with another that I had recently with a young woman who, with the help of her partner, had found my lost purse containing about £60 which actually was not my money. After a complicated process of locating me, they returned the purse and its contents intact. When I rang her to express my gratitude, she seemed surprised. “But that was the way we were brought up by our parents,” she said. “I know what it is like to lose a purse and so I am just glad that we were able to return it to you.”

Parents would seem to have very different values to pass on to their children. In all probability, most people would prefer to have a daughter or son known for their honesty rather than an ability to stay out at night or to kick someone in the face.

Perhaps some youngsters have not had a chance in life. It is one thing to have a pocket full of money for drink and cigarettes and an entirely different matter to have, perhaps, little money, but an abundance of a love that knows how, on occasion, to be tough.

God bless,
Sr. Janet