Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Won't Return My Ball? I'm Calling the Cops.

Every neighborhood seems to have a crabby old lady or man who is the bane of all the kids. When I was growing up in Muncie, IN, it was the mother of one of the littler kids who lived across the street. And she wasn't that old, but she was twice as crabby.

This woman was a psycho. She used to make her kid spend the day in bed if he stepped in a puddle, even in the middle of summer, because now he was "sick." She once yelled at me to play on my own side of the street (not in the yard, mind you, but on my side of the imaginary center line). And she once chased me and my friend, Eric Pratt, with 2 foot hedge trimmers, screaming at us like Attila the Hun. (Believe me, I am not exaggerating about any of this. I wish I was.)

In Blue Ash, Ohio, Edna Jester has earned the reputation of being the crabby neighbor. According to an article in USA Today, Edna, 89, is facing 6 months incarceration and a $1,000 fine because she refused to return a football belonging to a neighborhood kid who lost it in the yard.

Edna has had a long-running problem with kids' balls landing in her yard, where they must leave huge divots and craters in the lawn to elicit such a strong -- what's that? Footballs and baseballs don't leave divots and craters? Then maybe the kids were climbing her fence and ruining the -- what's that? Edna doesn't have a fence?

So what's the problem?

Yes, she's had a number of balls land in her yard. The parent of the kid in question, Paul Tanis, says Jester has kept at least 10 balls that have landed in her yard; Jester says she has only kept three.

When Jester refused to return Tanis' son's football, Paul Tanis called the police. Blue Ash police issued a citation, which she refused to sign, so they arrested her for misdemeanor theft.

"I'm 89 years old and I want a little peace of mind," Jester said. "This is my life here in this chair, looking out that door, and all I see is playing the ball down and all over and all over. If it doesn't come in my yard, OK, but if it comes in my yard, I'm going to get it. No trespassing."

While the little kid in me cheers at the thought of a crabby old lady getting what she deserved, the more rational adult in me has to wonder:

1) Is it really necessary to call the cops?
2) Is it really necessary for the cops to arrest her?
3) While Jester may be mean for keeping the balls, isn't there a more mature way to handle this?
4) Why wasn't Tanis' son playing somewhere free of crabby old ladies?
5) Most importantly, why can't a 13-year-old kid outrun an 89-year-old woman, especially if she's just sitting in her chair all day long?

According to a Cincinnati.com article, Tanis said he told the police he didn't want to press charges.

“Edna and I have gotten along well,” he said. “I’ve cut her grass for free. We know she doesn’t like neighbors going into her yard, and we do the best we can to avoid it.”

Well, Paul, you now know how much she appreciates your family's help. And if she doesn't want trespassers, then don't mow her lawn. At the same time, you and your son should probably apologize for all the hassle you've put her through and offer to pay any legal fees or fines. And finally, quit letting your son play in a place where the balls are going to end up in her yard. If it's happened three or even 10 times, then that's too many.

Most people would have learned their lesson after one time.

(You can see a video of Jester on MSNBC's website.)

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