Jeremy has quite an imagination. Most of the time it’s interesting and often it’s hilarious. But sometimes his imagination leaves me wanting to bang my head against a wall. Repeatedly.
We were sitting on a fairly crowded bus last night after an evening spent with friends. Our seats were directly behind the exit doors which meant there was a good sized gap between us and the next row of seats.
“Mom,” Jeremy whispered urgently. I’d been staring blankly out the window, not really thinking about anything in particular. We were twenty minutes into a trip that was going to take another hour and I was already exhausted. I blinked then turned to look at him.
“That man’s taking pictures of the guy at the front of the bus.”
I looked up just in time to see the man in front of us raise his cell phone and snap a photo of a kid who looked just a few years older than Jeremy. The kid’s hair was buzz cut short and dyed fluorescent orange. It was so bright I wondered if it would glow in blacklight.
The man lowered his phone. It looked like he was emailing the photo.
“That is really creepy,” I agreed. “And rather pathetic. He needs to get a life.”
“We should tell someone,” Jeremy urged. “We need to tell that guy someone’s taking pictures of him.”
I took a closer look at the man. He looked to be in his late 20’s or early 30’s, so at least a decade older than the kid. He seemed soft but the kind of soft that was fat overlying muscle. And, judging from the way he’d hid the phone behind a pole and took a quick look around, he knew he was doing something wrong. If he was confronted, chances were he’d get defensive and angry. This could get ugly.
“No,” I said firmly. “If that man gets angry, he could cause a big scene on the bus. Maybe even a fight. Look, it’s wrong but there’s all sorts of idiots snapping pictures of total strangers with their cameras. I see them all the time online. It’s not right but it’s not really hurting that guy. Leave it.”
Jeremy looked ready to argue. Meanwhile the kid pulled the bus cord and got off. I relaxed and settled back to looking out the window.
“Mom,” Jeremy whispered urgently. “That man just texted ‘he’s off’. We need to warn the bus driver.”
“Jeremy relax,” I sighed. “Look. Dumbass probably has a friend who wanted more photos and he’s explaining that he can’t take any.”
Jeremy didn’t look convinced. “Mom, he’s sent two more emails and both say ‘practise’ with a picture of a professional hockey team. Practise even has a border around it.”
That was when he lost me.
“Okay,” I said slowly. “So he’s organizing a hockey practise. What does that have to do with anything? And why are you reading his emails? That’s just as creepy as him taking pictures of that kid.”
“Mom, you don’t get it,” Jeremy retorted. “There was a border around the word practise like he’d taken it off the internet and it was a professional team.”
“Yeah,” I replied. I stared at him blankly.
“Email isn’t private,” he pointed out. Talk about stating the obvious, although I doubted the man realized how public his email was on this particular bus. “Look, it’s a code. Downtown [town] is hockey and when we get into downtown [city] he’ll have a different code like a picture of puppies or something. It’s obvious. He told people that guy was off the bus then he used the code to say where he is. Now people are going to beat that guy up and you don’t care.”
Well, that was very creative and Jeremy was definitely upset. I took a deep breath.
“Jeremy, look. That man’s an idiot. He obviously doesn’t get out much if he’s so excited about seeing different coloured hair that he has to take photos and share them with friends. But that’s it. Did it ever occur to you that he’s emailing people about hockey because he plays hockey and they’re having a practise.”
“But he didn’t just type it in,” Jeremy protested. “It was downloaded from the internet…”
“And he could have downloaded it off the internet just as easily for an email about hockey,” I pointed out.
“He didn’t take any pictures of me.”
“We’re behind him. He can’t see us,” I replied. Jeremy didn’t look convinced.
The man pulled the cord then got up, slinging a sports bag over his shoulder. He looked like he played hockey. Not professionally for sure. He’d be on some team that practised once a week then went out for a few beers afterward.
Jeremy groaned. “We lost our chance Mom and it’s all your fault. Now that guy’s going to get beat up and we have no way to stop it.”
“Fine,” I snapped. “If we read the news tomorrow and find out some orange haired teenager got beat up downtown then I’ll apologize to you. But it’s not going to happen.”
Jeremy glared at me then pulled on his headphones, cranking his music. I settled back to enjoy some relative quiet.
An hour later we were home. I went into the living room to say goodnight to Jeremy.
“Don’t stay up late,” I warned him. “We have church tomorrow and you’ll need to talk to them about your role.”
The RE teacher texted him before the bus ride home about possibly changing his role. Jeremy’s already picked out his outfit and was underwhelmed at the thought of getting a new character.
“I don’t want to go to church tomorrow but it’s not like you care, you never listen to me.”
“I listen to you,” I protested.
“Tell that to the guy with the orange hair,” Jeremy snapped. “He got off at their secret hockey location and now…”
I looked at the wall and figured banging my head against it was a viable option.