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A Few Bad Eggs January 7, 2008

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Ramblings.

“Are the police outside the house?”

That was my dad’s question as he walked into my room. It was around ten in the evening on New Year’s Day, and the sound of a radio’s squawking from beyond our gate had caught his attention. Mine being the only room in the house directly overlooking the street, we turned off all the lights so as not to be seen and pulled the curtains back to have a quiet look.

Pacing back and forth on our driveway were two neighborhood security guards.

I volunteered to go out to see what was up and soon enough had been brought up to speed by our unexpected visitors. Earlier, a teenagers onboard a pickup truck were seen throwing objects at our house. Worried that what had been thrown were leftover firecrackers, the guards came by after apprehending the suspects in order to investigate and inform us. In the process, they discovered that what had been thrown were not firecrackers but a handfull of eggs, the debris from which were strewn across our driveway.

Learning this and seeing the mess upset me a lot. As a small consolation, the guard let me know that other houses in the area had also been victimized by similar egg-throwing incidents over the past several months, though this was the first time anyone had been caught red-handed. I was also told that we had the option to file a complaint against the teenagers — whose identities were being ascertained — and that I should check elsewhere on the premises as at least one of the kids was clearly seen tossing something over the fence.

At this point, I called on my brother to get our camera and reported the details to my dad, who took the news even better than I did (he was even angrier). Then, after taking pictures of the mess that was our driveway, we proceeded to inspect the area of the house the guard pointed out. True enough, we found that a few more eggs had splattered against one of the windows, the yolk still fresh and seeping down the wall.

This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. After a brief conference with my dad, the decision was made to file a complaint immediately against those responsible. As I prepared to leave and do just that, another security guard arrived to inform us that the teenagers in question were being detained at the neighborhood security office, and that two of them already admitted they had thrown the eggs. What he would tell us next, though, would be even more surprising.

Each of the nine teenagers responsible had been my brother’s high school classmates, some even his close friends. In fact, he’d been out to dinner with them a few nights before, and thus they should have had no reason — no reason whatsoever — to do anything so disrespectful to him or to us.

The hours to follow (and on to the next day) would provide much time for introspection. Why would my brother’s “friends” do such a thing? We have our own suspicions (outside of plain stupidity), but the fact that they would do something that would affect not just him but our entire family made the incident even more distasteful. How to handle the matter? No one can deny that this was a difficult situation: these “kids” were all legally adults, and we very much wanted to throw the book at each and every one of them; yet some of their parents were also friends of our family, making things that much more delicate. Besides, we had to acknowledge that my brother would still have to live with the natives, as it were, when all was said and done.

In the morning, I would be the one to fill my mom in on the details since she turned in early the night before. While similarly incensed, she was able to take a moment to put things in perspective and asked the inevitable question: granted it was a stupid prank, but could we be overreacting? In the end, no one was hurt and, apart from a stinking mess, nothing was damaged. Mind, she was just playing devil’s advocate, and over the course of the day her resolve to act against those responsible became even stronger. Still, it was a fair point.

Try as I might to see things this way, however, I can’t convince myself that there is any merit to such a position. Objectively, no one would wish the same to happen to their home, and I dare anyone to say otherwise. Further, and on a more personal note, it’s not the fact that we were the victims of a stupid prank that bothered me. The more I think about it, what struck a nerve was that the peace of our home had been violated. Indeed, it felt as if each and every egg that had soiled the house had not just been directed at our home but at me. And my brother. And my parents.

In retrospect, there were some positives that can be taken away from what happened. Two of the kids outright admitted to being responsible, and hours after the incident the lot of them came over presumably to apologize. Given the late hour and upset as we were at the time, we asked them to come back the next day when we hoped to be in a much better humor to talk things over. To their credit, they promised to do so and did. Then there were the parents of one of the teenagers involved, who came by with their son in tow precisely to make amends. While humbly owning up to what he did, it was clear that his parents were deeply affected, as if what he did reflected on them. To my mind, these show that even people from good families make mistakes, but that the right upbringing and values will shine through in the end.

Yet there remain plenty of negatives, too. Notwithstanding the apologies, it was clear that some of these kids were worried about saving their skin rather than making nice. Most continued to lie about precisely what they did: some misrepresented the facts to their parents (we later learned) and would continue to lie about exactly how many eggs they threw (they would insist that there were only three, when any reasonable person could see that only twice that many could account for the debris). One even went so far as to lie about his identity when confronted by neighborhood security. But the biggest disappointment from the incident was personified by the “ringleader” of the group — the one driving the vehicle — who never showed a shred of remorse despite speaking on behalf of his accomplices. Throughout, he seemed more worried about the potential repurcussions of any action we had taken against them and if anything had been broken, but not the least bit concerned that he had done something offensive and disrespectful. It’s truly beyond me how anyone can show such a lack of class and character.

Almost a week has passed since these events occured and we’ve already moved on. Those involved have apologized and the matter is now in the hands of the relevant authorities. In all likelihood, the excitement of the evening and the events that followed it will over time become just another of those anecdotes with which we regale guests over dinner. Nevertheless, it is sobering to see how a few bad eggs are all it takes to test friendships, ruin reputations, and cause plenty of grief and aggravation.



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