All the media talk about Catholic priests, predatory web sites and parents afraid to let their children bike to school has brought up a memory from my childhood.
It's too bad there's so much fear out there. So much fear that parents often don't allow kids to bike places. Obesity is on the rise.
Is the problem really that bad, compared to traffic hazards, for instance?
Still I remember an encounter. I hadn't thought about it for a long time, but all this recent talk in the local media has brought back the memory.
One weekend I was riding to a nearby town to have a picnic in the city park. Maybe I was in early high school, but my memory is a bit foggy.
Anyway, this fellow, in grubby overalls, struck up a conversation with me. Of course, "grubby overalls" - the stereotype.
He was a construction worker. Working on one of the dams on the Snake River. They were building dams back then so a lot of the workers lived in the area.
Being a kid, I started asking a bunch of questions. I was interested in dam construction.
How thick is the concrete? How does the coffer dam work? How deep are the foundations? When do they start putting the generators in?
Instead of being a "font of information" about the dams, this man I met in the park just invited me into a nearby restroom.
I wondered what he was trying to show me; concrete work, pluming examples, electrical conduit?
Instead, he pointed to the nasty graffiti on the stalls. The sexual graffiti. He started asking, "Do you do this?" "Have you done that?"
I just said "no" and "huh?"
I didn't know what to make of the conversation so I left.
He wasn't giving me very much information about the dams on the Snake River. I wasn't interested in the graffiti, it just seemed kind of dirty, or nasty, to me. The dam construction interested me more, so I just left. I got on my bicycle and rode away. The bicycle can be a good escape.
It didn't seem like that big a deal.
Sometimes I wonder if the fear is worse than the problem. Not that the problem is good, it's just that the fear can really be traumatizing and crippling.
It's always good to be careful and use common sense, but when fear starts to rule, everyone needs to stop and take a deep breath; so to speak.