Sunday, August 25, 2013

Gears - The skatepark vandals - By Jeffrey J. Thivierge

You know what really grinds my gears….?
The skatepark vandals.
Let me begin this by saying, I was never a skateboarder. When the fad hit my small town in the early 1990s, it didn’t matter that I had enough money saved from delivering the St. John Valley Times weekly newspaper to 80 houses every week. My mother simply would not allow me to have a skateboard. With that said, I lived in Van Buren, a town which is known to be… well… behind the times and extremely poor. When the citizens of a community are poor, the town tends to be poor as well, so even if I did own a skateboard, I would have had to find a railing, curb, or other object to “Ollie” and/or kick-flip over, because our poor little town did not build a skate park for us kids.

The vandals that decided to tear up the Windham skatepark were clearly bored. Angry that they lived in a tiny town like Windham, they decided to take their frustrations out on inanimate objects that the taxpayers provide to the young people, for their exercise and enjoyment. The vandals obviously forgot that they live a mere 10 miles from the largest city in Maine. They must not have an Xbox or PlayStation at their disposal. Clearly, the vandals must not have some sort of broadband Internet connection at their fingertips with access to the World Wide Web. They must not know that they can watch movies on Netflix for about $10 a month. When the money runs out, there’s always the Mountain Division Trail, which must have had hundreds of bears running amok that day, because obviously they couldn’t go there to expel their youthful energy. That must have been the same day that a great white shark was spotted in Sebago Lake. None of these options were viable. They just had to tear up the skate park for their maximum entertainment value.

(Brace yourself…. I’m 37 years old and I’m about to “talk” like an old man.)

As a teenager in Van Buren, we had to drive 197 miles to Bangor to go to the mall. (Yes, there’s a mall in Presque Isle now, but it wasn’t there when I was a kid.) We had a McDonald’s for a couple of years in the early 1980s, but it closed. (This is actually a Trivial Pursuit question/answer.) There were no cell phones, nor was there Netflix. Al Gore was still working on inventing the Internet. Our entertainment was much more harmless in nature. Instead of destroying public property, we would turn the “School Speed Limit” sign on at 10:30 p.m. and then watch confused drivers slow down for no reason. (We knew where the switch was.) We would go to a huge grassy hill after a rainstorm and would power-slide my friend Joey’s Volkswagon Golf down the hill, which was a little scary now that I think about it. When we got really bored at night, we would watch TV for any commercial that promised to send “free information” about a product and would proceed to have them send said information to whichever one of our friends wasn’t with us at the time. Bonus points if the commercial offered an informational VHS tape. (Yeah… This was the days before DVDs. That makes me really old, doesn’t it?)

Maybe it’s because I pay property taxes, but when I heard about the vandalism, it angered me at a visceral level. The people that provide the youth with this skate park will never use it. It is provided through the hard work and energy of adults that want nothing more than to give something to the young people of this great area. There is so much to do within a 15 minute drive of Windham. If the vandals are reading this, I have a message: The next time you get bored, whip out your smartphone and Google, “Things to do in Windham, Maine”. I promise, there’s plenty to do that will keep you from destroying what the taxpayers provide.

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