When I hit the road later in the morning like I did today, I usually see a lot of kids out doing stuff-riding bikes or skateboards, walking to the park or their friends houses; there's lots of kids around here and for the most part they're pretty friendly. Today, however, was different. I've been home long enough to take a shower and warm up my left over coffee and I'm still mad.
I'm somewhere between mile 4 and 5 of an 8 miler and I'm running on a fairly busy (well, busy for my little town..)street and I see a group of 5 kids ahead of me, ranging in age from maybe 13 or 14 to a little girl of maybe 7 years old. The little girl is lagging 10 yards or so behind the older kids and the gap is getting wider with every step she takes. And why, you may ask, is she falling so far behind? The little girl is struggling to keep up with the group because she's the only one in the group carrying a backpack-a huge backpack almost as big as she is. That's right, faithful readers, 5 able bodied kids and they make the littlest one carry the backpack. They weren't even watching her on this busy street with no sidewalk. I caught up with the little girl and I couldn't help myself. I told her to take a break for a minute and while she looked a little confused, she gratefully dropped the backpack and stopped walking. "HEY!" I yelled at the older kids. "GET BACK HERE!" They turned and just stood there, staring at me. I yelled again, and they walked back to me and the girl. I decided to try the nice approach first with the oldest girl. "You need to help this kid. She's little. Help her so she can keep up". OK, I'm thinking, this will be a test of the teenager's character. She'll either help the little one or she'll flip me off and keep walking.
The teenager gave me an arrogant stare, then she picked up the backpack and started walking. OK, I'm thinking, I didn't get the finger or any foul language. Let's see if we can make a little more progress. "Hold her hand, and walk slower. She's little and she can't walk as fast as you can. You need to take care of her". Again, the arrogant stare. She took the child's hand and the group walked away, at a much slower pace.
I'm pretty sure the next time these kids are out walking, they'll still make the little girl carry the backpack. But at least on this day they were forced to do the right thing.