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Letters to the Editor
Rudeness in Front of Walgreens
Today, March 16, I completed my first shift of after-school supervision in front of the Walgreens on Castro at 24th. After introducing myself to the employee behind the cash register, I stood outside the store in the warm sun wondering what kind of drama would unfold in the next 12 minutes.
Truthfully, I expected no problems from the middle-schoolers who would pass by the store on their way home from school. I suspected I might have to remind the students to slow down on their way into the store to purchase their candy, chips, and soda. Or I might have to tell them to use their "inside voices" and to keep their hands off of each other. No big deal.
And it wasn't. In fact, during my duty, not one young person even entered the store. But what happened outside made me take a second look at my job description. It also revived my cynicism regarding race and age relations in our beloved community.
Within two minutes of my standing outside Walgreens, I was greeted by a beautiful rainbow of middle-schoolers -- four big smiles and a loud "Hiiii, Ms. Reyes." Within seconds, they had gathered around me near the entrance to the store. Then suddenly, a middle-aged white man walked through the cheerful bunch and angrily declared, "You kids can't stand here!" His tone was hostile, and his eyes never met the bright faces of the young people.
The kids tried to respond to the disrespectful comment but the man made his way into the store too quickly -- but not before I loudly made my declaration: "They have a right to stand wherever they want on this public sidewalk!" It became clear to me at that point who I was there to supervise.
The group dispersed after a couple of minutes, but one, Alex, stayed behind for a debriefing. "Why?" he wondered.
We talked soberly about some people's prejudicial thoughts about young people of color -- about their unwarranted fears and their sometimes objectionable actions. We lamented the current state of affairs and reminded ourselves of our strength and pride.
And as we walked toward the bus stop, Alex shared with me his experience of calling 911 this past weekend when he noticed a woman being beaten by her boyfriend through an apartment window. How happy he was that the police responded promptly and that the woman was "all right." How happy I felt to have him and the other colorful adolescents in my life. And how sad I felt for the angry man who had barked at "my" kids.
Boy is he missing out!
James Lick Middle School counselor and Valley Street resident
A Plea for Kindness
Lately I've become unhinged. I like to think of myself as a calm, collected person. But imagine for a moment that you have come out of a store and your brand new vehicle is smashed and undriveable, leaking gas all over the pavement.
Or maybe it's got a paint nick or a bent mirror, or somebody's tried to move it (because you took up a "whole space," trying to protect it from lousy parkers) and knocked it over, not realizing how awkward and heavy it is. Of course, they've driven away.
Nobody's left a note, not even a business card.
Later you park it on the curb, out of the pedestrian's way, tucked in some obscure corner where no foot traffic is compromised. But then a neighbor or homeowner, someone who doesn't like the aesthetic of seeing a bike parked on the sidewalk, spinelessly calls the city to have it ticketed. (By now you've realized this vehicle is a motorcycle.)
Why not leave a note explaining the complaint, or give the motorcyclist some slack, for braving roadways filled with half-alert, phone-gabbing, lane-changing, non-signaling, latte-drinking drivers, or for getting good mileage and decreasing everybody's traffic and PARKING PROBLEMS, while paying the same bridge tolls as those palookas driving 5,000-pound, gas-guzzling, sport-utility vehicles loaded to the gills with junk?
Generally, we are nice people. But we seem to attract those "Blocking Sidewalk" tickets (even though I go out of my way not to block anyone's path).
Noe Valley residents! Be kind. Leave a note. Don't call the evil meter maids and men. Realize that motorcyclists risk their lives out there, and deserve a safe place to park. (If you're a motorcyclist and this sounds familiar, protest your tickets.)
Anyone Have Swiss Ties?
I am a member of a celebration committee that is preparing the 1,200-year anniversary of two villages in Switzerland, Ober-Endingen and Unter-Endingen. We are trying to reach the descendants of families who emigrated during the last centuries to the so-called "new world." It is possible that among your readers people have family roots going back to these two villages.
Ober-Endingen and Unter-Endingen are located in northern Switzerland, 20 miles north of Zurich near the Rhine River. The towns' history can be traced back to the year 798. Twelve hundred years justifies a special celebration, which we have fixed for June 18 to 28, 1998.
The celebration will give occasion to renew broken contacts between the ex-residents and citizens of Ober-Endingen and Unter-Endingen and the descendants of immigrant families.
The hundreds of families who left home during the last two centuries had a couple of typical surnames. The Christian surnames from citizens of Endingen (originally Ober-Endingen) are Bächli, Blum, Hediger, Hug (Haug), Keller, Meier (Meyer), Mathis, Schmid, Spuler, Steigmeier, Weibel, and Werder. The Jewish family names -- an important Jewish community was living in Ober-Endingen from the 17th to the 19th centuries -- are Bollag, Bloch, Braunschweig, Dreifuss (Dreyfuss), Guggenheim, Kohn (Cohn, Cohen), Moos, Picard (Pikard), Pollak (Pollack), and Wyler. The family names of Unter-Endingen are Hauenstein (Howenstein), Kunz, and Senn.
For more information, contact our web site at www.endingen.ch.
Thanks for your help.