I would have been about a junior in high school at that time. I was also working at Baskin Robbins in Helena.
That’s the thing – when you enter the workforce you get introduced to a lot of different people and a lot of new things. Not all are good for you.
Drinking when you’re underage isn’t really a good idea, but lots of people in Montana do it.
I did it quite a bit.
I remember I had a really good deal worked out with someone at County Market. When she was working I’d go in and buy up about three 18-packs.
God, she got sick of me.
I was always surprised that her boss didn’t come rushing out from somewhere, stopping this underage and pimple-faced teen from buying up all these cases of MGD.
Well, they didn’t. We had some fun times because of it, too.
Other than that, beer was damn hard to come by as a teen in Helena in the late-90s.
After I bought the beer I used to stash a lot of it under my dresser. One time I forgot this, went back a few months later and saw about 15 cans there.
Wow, that was a fun night!
One night driving up to some kegger in the woods wasn’t so fun, however. That night driving down the rutted and terrible road I ripped up my oil pan or some such. That cost a bit to fix.
What you can’t fix is an accident. That’s what happened on July 10, 2001, when someone I knew was killed in a car crash driving back from the lake.
I remember going to that funeral. The 20-year-old that was driving was in a wheelchair and she had to go to prison.
I headed to Missoula about a month later to go to UM. Wow, when you go to college you can really drink.
I still remember how surprised I was at my first house party. The cops showed up, but unlike in Helena where they’d write MIPs, they just told everyone to leave.
Wow, that was something!
I suppose what I’m getting at with this story is that if kids in Helena want to drink, they will.
If people want beer and they’re underage, they’ll get it. They’ll find a way, using creativity and cunning.
When it comes to guns, it’s the same way.
If a person wants a gun, they’ll find a way to get it.
That’s why I get worried when I see the gun control debate start up after mass-shootings like we saw yesterday, the 355th of the year.
I don’t know what to do to stop those, but I feel if we focus on mental health we might get there.
- In Helena teens will often drink because they don’t think there’s anything to do. They’re bored. They have issues with their place in society and lash out by doing what they’re not supposed to. We accept this.
- When people withdraw from society because of mental illness it’s often the same type of thing. People are not happy with things, bored, resentful, and ready to lash out. Instead of “bucking the system” by breaking some rules like drinking underage, they go on a shooting rampage.
Perhaps both are cries for help, I don’t know.
Even if people are crying for help, are we going to hear them?
Many time parents, co-workers, friends and family are too busy to pay much attention. It seems everyone’s working full-time or a couple jobs. When they do get home they only have time for themselves.
This is not good.
I’m sure you remember the first time you saw that image of the guy that shot up that Planned Parenthood in Colorado a few days ago.
You could tell right away that the guy was messed up in some way. Hearing him talk, saying “no questions,” kind of reinforced that.
The New York Times that had a good story on Robert Dear, his strange life, and the fact that he seemed to have no problem attracting women to come and live with him.
Of course he liked to knock ‘em around a bit too. That was when he wasn’t sleeping around on ‘em.
So that guy’s a real piece of work. There are lots more like him – nutcases.
What do we do about that…and why are people turning into nutcases?
Do we have more nutcases today that we did, say, 50 years ago, maybe even a century ago?
I don’t know. According to Statista, however, we’re at the same level of homicides as the 1950s. They also say the 1970s and 1980s were the worst for the country, twice as violent as today.
Maybe that’s not an accurate statistic. The problem with the gun debate is that you can find anything to back up your claims either way.
It could also be that long-term stats don’t play into the corporate media’s narrative.
I have to say – it sure seems like just about every large network is drumming up these tragedies…for whatever reason. One consequence of this is their advertising revenues go up.
We could blame guns or drugs or religion or bad parents or even the tooth fairy. Mainly I think we have a deep rot in our society, perhaps our culture as well.
What is that deep rot?
It’s hard to say. A lot of it is a loss of hope that people have. The 9-to-5 rat race isn’t all that it was cracked up to be, and no amount of pleasure shopping will ever make up for that.
When you’re faced with that monumental dilemma it’s a lot easier to blame guns.
Maybe if we take everyone’s guns away the problem will be solved.
I think if you put restrictions on something, however, it’s not going to solve that underlying rot, whether it’s caused by our decaying society or boredom with Helena high school life.
If people want something, they’ll get it.
I’m sure we’ll hear more calls for gun control, and I’m sure we’ll see Congress do nothing. They can barely get their budget wrapped up before the winter recess.
In other words, nothing will change…kinda like all the other screwy issues we’re forced to deal with.
At the same time, police gun violence against black people will continue. Rahm Emanuel should probably step down in Chicago.
Still, we’ll just have another serious police shooting somewhere else. I’m sure they happen all the time but we just don’t hear about most of them.
Again, we have a rot in our society – Chicago’s finest deleting Burger King security camera footage is a good example of that.
It’s very frustrating and I’m not sure what can be done.
Hopefully we’ll see some changes in the coming year, some bright spots of hope.