An injured watch
Posted at 7:45 PM

Tuesday, July 5, 2011
I bump into a fence pole at the park, my watch band breaks, and all heck breaks loose.

It's true.

I bumped into that obscure fence post at Makiki Park this afternoon. Immediately, my watch slipped off and I knew there was a problem. I soon went to Sears, where they repair watches and have been for decades. Twenty bucks. Not surprised. But it's no worse than replacing the whole band (stainless steel) for the same price. I'd rather give the $20 to the local repair guy than to the out-of-state company that makes the band.

But let me tell you about what happened after the watch band broke.

I crossed over the Keeaumoku Street bridge (over the freeway) and came to a stop at Young Street. From there, another stoppage at King Street. There, the light going west to east on King Street had turned red, but several cars kept going, including some turning left onto Keeaumoku Street going north. I see this all the time, so it's routine in a sick way. Dangerous.

But this was the first time I saw something bad happen in this circumstance. A white truck, with a middle-aged local dude driving (wearing a baseball hat and sunglasses), peered to his left as he turned, eyeballing the waiting drivers (like me) at the red light. Though our light had turned green, everyone waited. This guy was actually staring at us, almost daring us to hit the accelerator. While he was staring at us, he didn't see a car going across the intersection on Keeaumoku, across King Street, on the far right lane. The truck driver blasted into the far right lane, right into the other driver's gray truck. All because he was staring at us, taunting us, almost.

He was lucky. The guy in the gray truck was OK, and the side of his truck was mostly bondo. For whatever reason, maybe the bondo, there was no serious damage even though his truck got hit squarely by the white truck. We moved with the green light and I don't know what happened with those two trucks. But it was a weird, avoidable situation. What's wrong with some of these drivers?

I pulled into the parking lot, ground level, near Sears. I'm driving along in my lane when a big black truck wheels out of the parking lot, makes a wide turn to his right, and comes within 2 feet of my little car. Again ... what the heck is up with these drivers? What's the rush?

I walk into Sears, get really nice help at the watch repair shop. I go downstairs to search for an item. I walk toward the sporting goods section and there's a young woman sitting at one of the picnic table setups. She's talking LOUDLY on her cellphone. "Ah, it doesn't matter. I'll make up some stupid excuse ..."

A few minutes later, I'm in another part of the store and two guys are talking. Why people talk loud enough for strangers to hear, I don't understand. But one of them says, "Yeah, 'cause somebody ratted him out."

Now, these people who talk loudly and don't seem to care about who hears, I have to wonder, are they using their brains? Or are they just typical of folks in Honolulu these days? The drivers on the road ... it wasn't like today was a horrible day with traffic. It's a Tuesday afternoon, but they're driving like lolos!

This is not the town I grew up in, that's for sure. I don't like it. I still love my town, but I don't like it. I don't like the attitude of a lot of the people, and they are also transferring their attitudes and behaviors to their children. I'm fortunate enough to know lots of folks who still have some integrity and common sense, people who have raised their children, even grandchildren to have that same Old School value of respect.

But really, the majority of people nowadays have lost whatever golden values they learned long ago. It's annoying to hear people blabbing out loud in a public place about how they're going to make "excuses" about this or that. It's even worse when I see their children come up with the same type of behavior as students and athletes. That's why I always give coaches and athletic directors a lot of latitude when it comes to the sometimes asinine behavior of their schools' parents and students.

This is a different world we live in, even if we're geographically thousands of miles away from "outside" influences. And with the global economy slowing, inflation setting in and the deterioration of the home -- kids from broken homes are rarely the leaders and rarely show the dedication necessary to succeed -- I can't help but feel helpless.

I still try though, in whatever small way I can. But in the long run, it's impossible to help anyone who doesn't believe he or she needs it. It's impossible to help anyone who refuses to improve as a person and as an athlete. That's why I have the utmost respect for a young man or woman who works their ass off to overcome major obstacles, be it poor parenting -- say, having a single mom who stays out with her boyfriend six nights a week until 6 a.m. -- or a lack of resources, be it an overcrowded school or having no money for new football or basketball shoes.

I'll always be ready to help in small ways. So will many other folks who spend time with young student-athletes. Some of us coach. Some of us officiate. Some of us simply organize activities for kids. We just have to keep trying our best, even after a watch breaks and all that follows seems to be exactly what we want our kids NOT to become.

There has to be hope. One day, this town might become one that I like again. Maybe we just have to get down on the mat to realize how much we need each other, how much we can help each other. Whatever it takes, I say. I can always get my watch fixed again.

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