Thanks to Shawn Vestal for his Sept. 27 article on the downtown sidewalks. Back in my high school days (the 1960s), many students were lucky enough to ride the bus to school. Kids congregated downtown between buses. We obviously annoyed the adults, because we got lectures at school about complaints. But most of us ended up respectable citizens.
Teens need some place to hang out as part of the growing-up process. And we need to remember that street people, whether kids downtown or panhandlers at the freeway exits, are people. They deserve to be treated with respect. A smile and kind word can make a pleasant rather than an annoying encounter.
And they’re not all bad. I’ve seen kind acts from some so-called outcasts. When I had car trouble recently a dubious-looking man on a bicycle rode by me, swung around, and said “Ma’am, do you need any help?” No “respectable” people stopped.
We may not like how they live, but I wonder how different we would be in their circumstances. Let’s give them the benefit of treating them well. We owe it to them and to our city – and even to ourselves.