Did you happen to read the NY Times City Section essay, Under the Scaffold, a No-Fight Club? The author Allan Ripp writes about a confrontation between some youngsters hanging out under the scaffolding of a building near Columbus Circle. Apparently the teens have been loitering around there regularly during the day, and one day, one of the kids gets shoved into Ripp's way while he's walking. Ripp decides to say something:
“You guys are always here, standing around, bumping into people and fooling around,” I scolded. “It’s not the place, and someone’s going to get hurt.” I’m certain I cursed as well.
In an instant, I was surrounded by several of the boys, none of whom looked older than 15. The kid who shoved me just sneered while another told me to put my hands down and added a few choice insults. I looked more intently at the first one — he was slight and baby-faced, and I thought I might be able to engage him with a fatherly stare. I started to offer him a handshake to see if that would elicit an apology. He looked back with utter contempt, which was the last thing I saw before I was hit in the head.
Man, anyone could have seen that coming last week! In the aftermath, Ripp talks about how he's "naturally drawn to conflict," his past brushes (chasing a purse snatcher), and admitting that he usually encounters petty Larry-David style confrontations. We can't decide if he's incredibly foolish to tempt confrontation or incredibly brave to try to stand up for himself.
We loved this part of Ripp's essay, though:
Later, when I spoke to some police officers near Columbus Circle, they were hardly encouraging. “Do you want to spend two hours talking with the detectives?” one of them challenged me. “Do you want to file a written report and description of the assault?” Since I couldn’t identify which kid had actually clocked me, there was little I could do. They invited me to call 911 if I spotted the suspects. “We’re not Columbo,” one officer said.
Photograph by seth_holladay on Flickr