Don’t Touch my Stuff

Did anyone read “Dear Abby” in the newspaper or online this morning? Go ahead, read it; I’ll wait.

No? Okay, then, I’ll summarize: The writer (Kid 1) said he’d left his college dorm room unlocked for a short time to retrieve something in a friend’s room. Upon his return, Kid 1 found his laptop, cell phone, and several books missing. He panicked because it was close to final exam time. Later that night, another friend (Kid 2), appeared at his door and “confessed” to the deed, saying he was trying to teach Kid 1 not to leave his door unlocked.

Kid 1 pressed charges. Kid 2 was charged with misdemeanor theft, lost his scholarship, and told to do community service. The two are no longer on speaking terms, and Kid 1 says Kid 2 is harassing him and telling his friends lies about him.

Abby called Kid 2 “emotionally disturbed” and said Kid 1 is not to blame; she advised Kid 1 to report Kid 2 to the authorities if he doesn’t stop the harassment.

Doesn’t this smack of overkill?

I mean, c’mon, people, it takes two to tango, and both these young men share some blame.

Kid 2 shouldn’t have removed Kid 1’s things from his room (but at least he returned the stuff shortly after); Kid 1 shouldn’t have spun into overdrive about it.

I mean, really, how many college kids don’t sneak into somebody else’s room and swipe something, usually in good fun?

Heck, I’ve done it myself. My roommate one year had a stuffed animal that she slept with every night. One afternoon, it “disappeared,” and NO WAY was she going to sleep unless and until it reappeared!

So it did, and that was the end of that. I can’t imagine her reporting me to the police and the university!

Maybe a stuffed animal isn’t the same as a laptop, cell phone, and books, but it was just as important to her at the time.

If Kid 1 was so “touchy” about his things, he should’ve remembered to lock his door; why shoot the messenger?

What I’m trying to get at is this: college kids prank each other. Most times, it’s just because they’re bored and think they’ve dreamed up something interesting to do at someone else’s expense.

Pranking continues throughout life. What office worker hasn’t returned from vacation to find green things growing from his keyboard?

Or a cubicle filled with balloons? Or everything covered in Post-It notes or aluminum foil?

Part of life is learning to get along with others; having a sense of humor diffuses many a bad situation.

Unless there’s real harm involved — to someone’s person or things — shouldn’t the adults stay out of kids’ petty disputes?

What’ll they think of next?

Sometimes e-mails can be so annoying!

There are those “chain letter” messages, which promise something dire will happen if you don’t forward them to 25 friends. Then there are those sugary-sweet missives, complete with “awww” pictures, that you’ve got to pass on. And don’t get me started on e-cards or spam about cheap meds, hot chicks, or free I-pods.

But e-mail has its good points, too. Take today, when I received a forwarded message from a friend telling me of the new “bottle bombs” kids are planting.

Never heard of a “bottle bomb”?

Me, neither.

Turns out, it’s a pretty scary thing, and I can’t imagine having so much time on my hands to stir up mischief.

Nor can I imagine anybody thinking this would be funny.

Apparently, the perpetrators take an empty 20 oz. soda bottle and add Drano and tin foil, then leave it on somebody’s lawn, in somebody’s mailbox, etc. The gases combine in a chemical reaction, exploding the bottle (and leaving the finder with blindness, loss of fingers, and 2nd and 3rd degree chemical burns).

Not so funny, is it?

Nor are the penalties if one is caught:

  • Possession without causing damage, 15-year felony
  • Possession causing damage, 20-year felony
  • Possession causing physical injury, 25-year felony
  • Possession causing serious injury, up to life in prison
  • Possession causing death, mandatory life without possibility of parole

I know kids will be kids. I know kids decry many towns because there’s nothing to do.

But when I was a kid, moping around complaining just earned me unnecessary work — like moving a pile of bricks from one side of the yard to another, or washing windows, or pulling weeds. . . .

Ah, the good ole days!