April 19, 2004

A Conundrum

Tonight Jed and I were witness to a scene that left us feeling like we should have or could have done more. But could we?

Our lack of any schedule has often left us wide awake late at night. We find the best way to deal with our nocturnal energy is to take walks. The space needle seems to be where we head most often. This was the case tonight.

Around midnight, we were seated near the fountain at the front entrance talking when we heard some rustling behind us. Two street kids came walking through the bushes and headed straight to the fountain which had just been shut off. At first, too absorbed in my own conversation, I thought that maybe they were bathing (yes, I realize now that was a dumb thing to think) but Jed pointed out that they were actually stealing the money.

Several minutes later an employee from the Space Needle saw what was going on and walked up to the fountain. The boys didn't realize anyone was there until he began to speak. He could have physically stopped them but instead chose to yell profanities at them for stealing money from children. (I again, foolishly assumed that money just went back to the Space Needle.)

The kids ran away with all their change. The man didn't chase them but he did shoot a lingering and disparaging look our way. I immediately felt guilty, like I had stolen from the fountain.

Should we have done something? We saw them walk up and we saw them begin stealing. We did nothing but continue on with our conversation.

After they ran away, I told Jed that I thought we should have done something. We both felt bad, but he pointed out that it was best to stay out of it. What could we have done? What if they had knives?

It is easy to offer a heroic or idealistic opinion to what you would have done if in the same situation, but is that always honest? It was easy for me to invision a grand chase, tackle, maybe a few punches or bites and then return the money to the fountain after the incident had passed. In reality, I can barely walk to the supermarket without whining and sweating, I love the pants I was wearing too much to risk ripping them in a tackle, I have never punched anyone and they were far too dirty to bite. During any sort of altercation, the change would have spilled everywhere and would I, all beaten and exhausted, really want to search through the grass at night for a few dollars worth of change?

Perhaps that is justification, but I am curious, what would you do?

Posted by karen at April 19, 2004 02:10 AM

The only thing i have to offer is that Ellen Tillotson's nephew was murdered in Seattle when he tried to help someone in trouble. Guilty feelings will do you no good at all. Just tuck it away as a life lesson - it was only some change. You are forgiven and the fact that you feel remorse is enough to show that you have character.

Posted by: goofypiper at April 20, 2004 07:02 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?