Dear Kids: You Leave a Wake

10 effects from my neighborhood’s recent teenage vandalism

Just part of the damage done to my neighborhood pool.

To the Kids Who Threw Crap in My Neighborhood Pool:

I should probably post this on Tumblr or Reddit so you might actually see it, but I can’t remember my log in information and I’m too old and tired to care.

So this will have to do.

Last night, in an apparent fit of “Yay! School’s out for summer!” excitement, you felt the need to toss some tables, chairs, a trash can, two umbrellas, and the contents of an ash pot into my neighborhood pool.

I hope it satisfied whatever primal itch required scratching, because the aftermath of your celebration is not pretty:

  1. Nobody can use the pool today, the first official day of summer for all of the little kids in the neighborhood. Congratulations on becoming the summer lovechild of Scrooge and the Grinch.
  2. That includes my kids, whose only plans for today were to spend it down by the pool. My wife drove them by so they could see your handiwork. My daughter wanted to know what is wrong with you. My son has apparently decided to use this as motivation towards becoming Batman during this third grade year.
  3. The pool man is stuck cleaning up after you for a second time in two weeks. He was not happy.
  4. The pool man costs money. That money comes from the homeowners of the neighborhood. That means you have irritated 99 families, one of which is probably your own.
  5. We’ve contacted the police, and will likely up the number of patrols for our neighborhood. This also costs money. It also means you’ll have fewer chances to cause mischief — or if you want to look at things in a positive light — you’ll have more chances of getting a free ride in the back of a police car.
  6. Some sort of extra security features will be added. More money, more hassles, more reason for people to silently add to the copious suburban fury they already harbor.
  7. The pool will close earlier for the foreseeable future. I know this won’t stop you from making mischief if your heart is set on it, but it’s one of the few steps we can take to limit damage. The other option involves snipers in the bushes. (Not really. Or at least, not officially.)
  8. The neighborhood is now on high alert. Remember the suburban fury I mentioned? Well, people are glad for an outlet. They’re posting stuff on Facebook trying to nail down who you are. We’ve got a car color and model, driver and passenger descriptions, as well as several folks sharing recent stories of bad behavior. It’s like the end of Three Amigos, and well, you probably don’t even know that’s a movie, much less how it ends.
  9. The Old Man backlash is in full effect. You’ve given lots of older people a wonderful opportunity to do what many older people love — look at every person under 25 with great suspicion and/or disdain while preemptively dialing 911. I’d keep my pants pulled up, radio turned down, hair kept neat, and — for God’s sake — stay off people’s lawns.
  10. You’ve deepened the generational divide. I’m a defender of the Millennials and younger generations. I believe in your potential to do much good. But I shake my head when crap like this happens because it only reinforces the perception that you’re a generation of spoiled brats.

I realize teenagers from the dawn of time have done equally stupid (if not stupider) things, but we live in a different cultural space than the one your grandparents inhabited. Their “harmless” pranks (which weren’t harmless) would garner a comparable level of fury in today’s perennially angry world.

To put it bluntly, you’ve got a much shorter leash, and the people holding are looking for a reason to pull back on it hard.

Don’t give it to them.