The mean streets of Albany

Occasionally when I write, I pause to consider how a particular post is going to play. Will it garner comments? What sort of response will it get? How many retweets or shares will it prompt? I really don’t know how the incident I’m about to share will be received, but I’m just going to put it out there.  Here’s what I experienced yesterday during an evening run.

It was fairly early in my run and still quite light out.  As I headed west on Whitehall Road, I approached a group of teens walking in my direction. There were three or four of them, I don’t exactly remember – or, more accurately, I hardly really noticed.  What I did notice was the tremendously bright smile on the face of the girl closest to me. Spectacular!

As we passed each other, the small group politely fell into single file formation as we met on the not-really-so-wide sidewalk.  The teens were talking animatedly and the big smile girl made eye contact with me and said “She’s got anger issues,” with a nod of her head to one of her companions.  I interpreted her tone as joking, and responded, without breaking my stride, with “She’s working on it!”  What happened next was disturbing enough that it is still bothering me.

The girl with the “anger issues” started yelling at me – to mind my own business, that she’d show me and a few other choice words she felt I deserved for “getting in her business.”  I had the distinct impression that if I had elected to stop and turn around, she would have been right in my face.  Her voice and words were threatening and I chose to keep running, maybe even a little faster than I had been previously.

The incident brought to mind the coverage I’ve seen recently about “girl brawls” which have occurred around the Capital Region.  I reflected on my own teen years and considered whether I would have ever been that aggressively confrontational with an adult in similar circumstances.  My conclusion was no.  I couldn’t imagine speaking to a stranger with such anger and disrespect.

This young woman and I were different from one another, and our differences did not stem from the fact that she is black and I am white.  Her behavior and demeanor were hostile.  She was assaultive and seemed to be actively seeking a fight.  She was indeed angry and somehow viewed me as a potential target for her fury.  She and I were not alike at all.  But…

I won’t make assumptions about her home life, but I can tell you that by the time I was in middle school I had lived at 9 different addresses.  I don’t know what the composition of her family is, but I do know that I never had the good fortune to meet my own father, or a single blood relative other than my mother and brother, until I was an adult. Maybe she comes from a family with limited positive educational experiences.  My mother was limited to an 8th grade education until she was able to obtain a GED in her early 40s.  I know about Medicaid and free lunch and long afternoons spent at social services as a child.  I get it.

What I don’t get is her rage, nor her desire to inflict it upon me.  I have no intention of give up my running route, but I do hope she finds a way to exorcise her anger.

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4 Comments

Filed under Albany, Local, Observations

4 responses to “The mean streets of Albany

  1. I think to keep on running (and maybe a little faster) was the best possible thing to do.
    I can’t recall ever speaking like that to an adult at that age either. It’s sad on so many levels. Sad for her, sad for us, sad for the decline of civility.

  2. chickenminnie

    I had a similar experience while working in an inner-city school; the sudden and inexplicable display of rage was jarring and made me wonder where on earth it could possibly be coming from in a person so young. So sad.

  3. Chrissy O'Reilly

    So many times in my youth, I experienced that unprovoked anger that you speak of- it always left me shaking, as well. A few years ago, I brought my children to the play in Washington Park and we were verbally attacked by a group of young teenagers. The boldness, the rage and the seeming willingness to increase the attack was shocking to me. I have long pondered how two people with the same background can react to their circumstances so differently. I hope that the angry may someday find peace. Looking forward to our next Albany run, regardless, but hope that Jeeter can soon be your companion on your solo runs.

  4. Pingback: An open letter to paleandpasty | DelSo

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