What were the odds that Charleston County public school students would get in trouble for allegedly throwing coleslaw - among other things - from a moving school bus on May 8?
What were the odds that at least some of them have been charged as adults with, among other offenses, malicious injury to real property?
Isn't throwing stuff from a school bus kid stuff?
OK, so as reported in Friday's Post and Courier, the ages of the eight alleged culprits range all the way up to 19.
OK, so according to law enforcement officials (the city of Charleston Police initially responded before the Charleston County Sheriff's Office took over the investigation), coleslaw wasn't the only thing thrown from the bus.
Some suspects also allegedly threw rocks, which are not only inedible but intimidating and infuriating when whizzing toward your vehicle. A Hanahan man said the barrage from that bus inflicted about $950 of damage on his pickup truck.
OK, so the alleged culprits are students from Septima P. Clark Academy, an "alternative education" school on James Island.
And when you are suspected of throwing rocks - or even just coleslaw - from a school bus, chances are the folks in charge won't go easy on you.
Chances also are that the 78-year-old bus driver was overmatched in a clash of wills across an age gap of roughly six decades.
Sure, boys will be boys, and girls will be girls (members of both sexes are among the alleged bus miscreants).
Still, isn't it scary enough these days having to watch out for teens - and others - driving cars, riding bikes and crossing streets on foot with their eyes locked on handheld electronic screens?
Must we add "Incoming!" alarms about rocks - and coleslaw - hurled from school buses to the lengthening list of perils posed by youth?
Respect your elders
As Mr. and Mrs. MacAfee muse about "Kids" in the rocking 1960 Broadway musical "Bye Bye Birdie" (lyrics by Lee Adams, music by Charles Strouse):
"Why can't they be like we were,
Perfect in every way?
What's the matter with kids today?"
Sure, that was written about kids when lots of us were still kids.
But hey, way back when at St. Andrew's Elementary, Junior High and High School, we strived toward worthy goals.
Among our positive grown-up outcomes are at least one of each of these: police officer, firefighter, Air Force pilot, land speculator, industrialist, architect, artist, venture capitalist, physician, preacher, veterinarian, dentist, oil baron, coach, Navy admiral, carpenter, surfboard magnate, exterminator, professor, shopkeeper, chemist, restaurateur, tavern proprietor, agitator, plumber, marketing expert, philosopher, musician, mechanic, entrepreneur, seller, editorial writer ...
Though space limitations preclude a full listing, you get the idea. When we now-respectable adults were kids, we didn't endanger lives by throwing things out of school bus windows.
Not often, anyway.
Many of us, however, did throw ourselves into an arms race of sorts for school-cafeteria food fights. For instance:
A fork served as an instructive launching device for a wide range of lunchroom fare, including corn, peas, berries, tater tots and an icky carrots-raisins-mayonnaise concoction.
How? Lay fork, prong up, on flat surface. Put ammunition atop opposite end of prong. Slap downward on prong with rapid force and watch bullets, er, corn kernels, fly. Adjust aim and power as needed for direction and range.
Such antics didn't just provide a mischievous diversion from the scholastic grind. They taught basic physics principles utilized in the catapults of old.
And sneak projectile attacks weren't confined to meal breaks.
The shells of Bic pens made dandy blow-gun barrels for spitball battles that routinely disrupted classes.
Warning: Possession of spitball guns is not protected by the Second Amendment.
No justice, no peace
Then as now, educators were inevitably erratic in apprehending and punishing malefactors.
Thus, the school justice system, like the court justice system, was - and is - frequently unjust.
In my long-ago school daze, some hapless patsies even got framed for offenses they didn't commit.
And now as then, the use of food for non-nutritional purposes extends beyond school grounds.
Smashed pumpkins - generally hurled from moving vehicles - remain a common sight on streets across the land in the aftermath of Halloween.
In these parts, shattered watermelons are a year-round road spectacle.
So please, kids (and you alleged adults), don't waste good food on bad behavior.
Especially when it's tasty Bessingers or Chick-fil-A coleslaw.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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