Thoughts New And Old

Growing up, I’ve never heard any of my neighbors having any trouble with the police. Of course that’s very much a half rural, almost un-industrialized environment where almost everybody knows everybody else. Even if you don’t know that particular person, you know somebody who knows him. The unemployment rate is very high among young people and often a mother had to quit her job to give her position to her son if she didn’t want to see her son staying unemployed. Whenever a bicycle was stolen, or a chicken was missing–a lot of people raised their own chicken to supplement their diet–an inquiry would come out of the neighborhood and all the idle young people would be questioned by their parents or their relatives. Now I think of it, it was very much an age discrimination and age profiling thing going on. Why weren’t the middle-aged or old people questioned? Is it a traditional bias that stealing is young people’s forte? I don’t know and I never asked. Whenever a couple was quarreling too loudly, the neighbors would tap on their door. During the summer when the doors were often not shut to allow better air circulation, neighbors would barge in and forcefully break up a physical fight if there was one. Most likely the male neighbor would drag the husband away to cool him down, while the female neighbor would sit down with the wife to have a joint session to vent of their grievances.

Here in New Jersey, I was a little shocked when I heard that police is sometimes called when families squabble. Three stories really shocked me. One involves a girl, who’s a new arrival. She came to marry an immigrant from East Europe somewhere and they got to know each other online. Her new husband lived with his mother and a place that’s OK for two people were now made to accommodate three people. It’s no surprise that she quarreled with her mother-in-law so seriously that her mother-in-law called the police, accusing her of assault and battery. The mother-in-law relented the next day and dropped the charges, but she had to stay behind bars for a night. Another story involves too colleagues which I will relate in a long piece I am writing right now. The third one is about two neighbors–one blowing dry leaves to the yard of the other, one putting garbage out in front of the property of the other, one accusing the other of renting out rooms. I was surprised to learn that one calls police on the other for these petty problems. I thought all these above problems should be resolved without the police involvement, but obviously I was wrong.

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