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Chasing after a senseless act

Losing nothing doesn’t lessen the impact of irresponsible destruction

Published: Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 5:00 a.m. CDT

Until three years ago, I had never bought a TV. We had TVs. I just had never bought one. One was given to us. We won one as a prize. And we had the TV my wife had bought before I met her, which was more than 20 years ago.

Technology finally surpassed us, though, and our old TVs no longer worked with our cable TV service unless we rented a cable box for each one. TVs are so cheap now, we finally bought new ones. I don’t know that we need a TV for every person living here, but that’s what we’ve got.

The old TVs were still decent sets, though, so I didn’t want to throw them out or even give them to recycling for parts. I advertised free TVs and was able to give the best two away right away. The third one was not a great set; the volume buzzed a little bit; we had used it for our daughter’s game console so we wouldn’t have to hook any games up to the “good” TV in the front room.

Not wanting to mess with advertising a marginal free TV, I just set it out on the curb with a “free” sign on it. I figured it’d be gone by morning. As cheap as new TVs are, there are people who would be thrilled to have a free TV even if it buzzes a little bit.

Being able to do something nice mitigated my frustration in having to replace our TVs after cable went all digital.

Fast forward to 10 p.m. the evening I put the TV on the curb. I was standing by the front door when I heard a crash outside and I could tell exactly what it was. I opened the door and there was a young man standing over the now busted TV with another young man standing in the street. When I came outside, they started walking up the street.

I hollered out: “Did you break this TV?” They just kept walking with no response.

Despite having no shoes on, I followed them trying to get a glimpse of who they were. I also didn’t have my glasses on, so unless I got within a couple of feet of them, I’d never be able to identify them. But they didn’t know that.

My wife thinks I’m going to get killed someday doing things like this. It’s not the first time I’ve chased some punk down a street. I’m not really a back-down kind of guy. I have no skills with which to back up my bravado, but I’ve never had to take it that far.

I followed them and berated them as they hastened their pace. By the time we got to the end of the street, three neighbors had joined pursuit as the pair of punks took off running. I’m too old to run. Nobody got a good look, but maybe the two ne’er-do-wells will pick a different street to vandalize next time.

I can’t say I lost anything. I was giving the TV away for free. But it irritates me to see somebody do something like that — destroy something that is not theirs and which could be used by someone else. It’s senseless.

I get the concept of having fun breaking stuff. I was young once. It’s a guy thing. It’s great fun to shoot out the screen on a TV or a computer monitor and hear it go “poof.” But it’s something you do with a broken TV that you own or at least have permission to destroy.

Busting up someone else’s property is just wrong and criminal. I don’t know what I would have done if they had stopped and confronted me; probably just given them an earful. What else can you do?

I can’t say this was a heinous act, but it was pretty stupid. And who’s to blame? The parents? The school system? Video games? The media? Those are the usual suspects we seem to love to blame.

The thing is, these guys knew what they did was wrong. That’s why they would not turn around and acknowledge me. Somebody taught them right from wrong; they just chose to do wrong instead of right.

They alone are responsible for their actions. I won’t be able to hold them accountable, but they’re still responsible, or in this case, irresponsible.

———

(c) 2012 by David Porter who can be reached at david@ramblinman.us. All rights reserved. Turns out I was right; by morning, the TV was gone.

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