Monday, April 21, 2008

Random Acts of Intentional Violence.

Last Friday night I finished reading the book I was currently working my way through, and I thought I'd go out for a drink and relax a bit. I couldn't identify any friends to meet me at my favorite nightspot, and so I was hoping that the bar would not be jam-packed with tourists and suburbanites. There was an outside chance that I would be able to find a seat, since it was before 10:30PM. I parked in my usual spot and walked up the sidewalk to the front entrance. I could see through the front window that it wasn't too crowded. I was heartened to find an empty stool near the corner of the bar, with no one on either side. I settled in, received the usual sterling service that befits a regular, and sipped my cocktail in peace. It felt good to be out in a quiet and clean place with breathing space.

Fortunately I had remembered to bring my camera with me, and I decided to try to capture a bit of the magic of the night. At this point in the night the bar was so empty that I had a chance to talk to some of the staff as I worked. This particular pub has plenty of visual stimuli and a multitude of varied and interesting light sources. I enjoyed working in that atmosphere, and quickly lost myself in phenomena that most observers would find mundane. I really can't sufficiently praise the Canon G9. It has enough in-camera features to provide hours of diversion. I was able to accumulate a number of compelling, show-worthy images in the short time I sat at the bar. Later a friend came in and I chatted superficially with him about mild topics.

I had no intention of making it a long or costly night out. I felt quite satisfied as I donned my jacket and left for the drive home. It had been time well spent, and I congratulated myself for my moderation. As I approached my car, I realized almost immediately that something was wrong. My driver's side mirror was hanging by its internal electrical wires from its mounting. The faceplate was shattered in many pieces. It struck me initially that this was incredibly inconvenient, as I had to get home in the dark without its aid. I quickly discerned that the mirror on the passenger side was also destroyed. Over the past year I had parked in this little convenience store lot almost every time I visited the bar. The store was closed and I figured it was fair game. I've never had even the slightest problem with this practice.

It began to sink in that someone had come by and done this deliberately. This was no accident- it was quite clear because both sides were smashed. I wondered who might have done such a thing. There was another car next to mine that had not been vandalized... but it hadn't been there when I arrived. Apparently some ne'er-do-well figured that my little banged-up foreign vehicle was an appropriate target. He (or they) decided that they would add a particularly damaging exclamation point to my evening. Why did they do it? Perhaps they were kids, amped up and showing off to each other. Maybe they were inordinately drunk and carousing. Going wildin' on a weekend night is a long-honored tradition among adolescents. I'm sure they gave the whole affair little thought. I was simply left to deal with the consequences.

I suppose this kind of thing happens week in, week out, across the nation. People seem to invest so little energy into thinking about what their actions cost others. This is an anonymous protest against an unknown individual. I certainly didn't feel that I knew the perpetrator. I don't believe that it was anything personal. Anyone could become the recipient of such malice on any given night. This is the nature of random violence. You could go weeks, months, or years without anything like this ever happening to you. Or it could happen on subsequent days. But it makes me question our society. Do we teach its members to have this little respect for their fellows? Is there something in our culture that reinforces such behavior? Is it a natural consequence of our difficult and chaotic times? How much worse can it get? I slept fitfully and woke up sore.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recomend using the Gemini method like they do in Brooklyn.

7:26 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

I'm not familiar with it. Details?

9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just passing this info along. Not advocating anything.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_DeMeo#Gemini_Method

12:52 AM  

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