The Crime of Cooking Oil and a Wise Mother’s Lesson
Recently in Rock Hill, South Carolina, the manager of a roller rink called the local police because a thirteen-year-old boy, a knot head for sure, thought it would be funny to pour cooking oil on the wooden floor, causing skaters to tumble. According to the manager of the rink, the boy brought the oil into the rink concealed in his water bottle. After the act, she called the police who arrested and handcuffed the boy. Evidently the free ride in the police cruiser impressed our latest criminal because he was later released into the custody of his mother. She, being wiser than anyone else involved in this over reach by all adults, took her son back to the rink and made him help clean up his mess. The rink manager estimates that it lost about $600 due to the closing of the rink, so I hope the mother makes him make retribution to the rink for its lost income. However, as much as I admire the mother and under stand the misguided act of the boy, I find the other actions surrounding this unfortunate episode unnecessary.
I heard of this situation on my local NBC Charlotte television station. It was, like so much television news, a brief segment that feathered the manager, the rink, and it identified the location. Fortunately, the boy and police were not shown. Next, I read a brief report by using Google under a search for a thirteen-year-old boy and roller rink and cooking oil. As in the television report, the boy was not identified. News? Hardly, just an admission of the lack of imagination by managers.
Really, I find so much wrong concerning the silly actions of a thirteen-year-old knot head in Rock Hill, South Carolina. For certain, what he did was wrong and potentially could have been dangerous for a skater or skaters. And perhaps the manager felt as if she had to call the police in order to make certain that the correct person was blamed for the prank. But did the police need to handcuff and arrest the criminal? Were his actions such that he posed more of a threat to anyone than he already had?
Perhaps the boy is unknown to the manager of the rink and well-known to the local police. Perhaps he has a history of wrong behavior at the rink, and the manager was frightened by his size and attitude. Perhaps.
Since the boy thought of pouring oil on the rink floor, I bet he was a regular skater at the rink and was known by the manager, at least by sight. I imagine that she was upset by the oil poured on her floor and the danger it presented. I imagine she became a bit desperate and turned to the local police for help. I appreciate her actions but can’t for the life of me understand why the police would handcuff and arrest a mere boy for such a prank.
It seems to me that our culture is prone to overacting in so many situations, especially those involving young people. We have lost our cultural discretion. We have become so fearful as a culture and individuals that we have allowed it to overtake our lives so that, as Clarence Jordan writes, “Fear is the polio of the soul which prevents our walking by faith.” Jordon writes that in light of religion, but it is true in the secular as well. We have no or little faith in anything, just low-level desires or wishes or both. Thus, we have lost our individual and collective discretion. We have taken it away from our police and judges. Our youth coaches are made to treat all young athletes the same or some irate parent explodes. We have melted. Into a blob.
I admire the boy’s mother for her wisdom and grit. She takes him from the police station to do the best thing possible: clean up your mess. This is a life lesson that is like other life lessons not taught enough today by adults. We can do and need to do better by our knot heads.