Monday, February 17, 2014

The deeper side of persistent egging in Gallup, NM

I woke up this morning to a wonderful status update on Facebook from one of my friends. He works for UNICEF UK and got published in The Guardian! I was so ecstatic for him as he was able to promote a wonderful project that he's part of that addresses youth unemployment. You can find his article here: Global youth employment: hope in a bleak landscape.

I also woke up to an oh-so-wonderful (note my sarcasm) surprise when I went outside to move my car: I just got egged. Again.

I moved to this apartment with my husband in 2012 and the number of times I'd been egged since then is enough to make an omelette out of my car. It's crazy how often this old school prank happens in our neighborhood. I get comments from friends and family elsewhere about how they could not believe this kind of thing still happens. After all, egging seems to be the stuff that old, 1980s movies are made of, not real life in 2014.

They're right. To this day, it still blows my mind how the youth in my area still resort to such a worn out prank. On one hand, I am thankful that it's just egging and not mass murder; on the other hand, the first time I got egged, they actually broke my tail light, which, I would think, would be grounds for vandalism. And when this kind of ordeal happens on an almost regular basis (bi-monthly, give or take), it becomes downright inconvenient.

These kids normally target rich people in rich neighborhoods, where I am unfortunately currently renting. But that's the thing: not all people here are actually the rich population they so utterly disdain! I don't own any of these huge houses; I just rent a first floor apartment! I'm just a lowly, second grade teacher struggling to pay my bills with the little money I get from the public school system! I may have an old, secondhand car, but it is well loved and I am still struggling to pay for it!

And this made me think, that if I had a reason for not being egged, these kids probably also have their own reasons for egging the rich neighborhood.

Boredom? Perhaps. This town, after all, literally doesn't have any meaningful, recreational activities to get into. Gallup, NM is the second poorest city in America. Job growth in Gallup is in the negative. This just isn't the place you would call 'greener pastures.'

This brings me back to my friend's The Guardian article, and how there are international programs now that help solve the youth unemployment problem. In jest, I asked him to 'please help the youth in my area' because all they want to do these days is egg my car! In his article, he mentions that some developing countries, like India and Zambia, are beginning to develop policies and practices for long-term sustainable support for young people. I thought, how hard can the same thing happen here? As a developed nation, it should be easier for us to absorb such efforts, right?

My friend made a great point: in some respects, youth unemployment is harder to bare in developed countries than developing countries, particularly when seen in the frames of inequality.

There is no single answer and solution to such a deep-rooted problem. I notice, especially as a teacher, that kids in this area are typically very unmotivated when it comes to making future prospects and ambitions to 'better' their current situation. They don't care, but at the same time they also care enough to be aware of the inequality they are experiencing, thus egging rich neighborhoods. So there is also an emotional, psychological factor involved in the problem. How can we meaningfully motivate our youth?

Until then, I can only try and understand where these eggers are really coming from, and how their own personal frustrations -- the same frustrations I have with this city -- are causing them to express their discontent through petty crime.

But, like I told my friends and family -- again, in jest -- if this keeps on happening and makes my life a living hell of inconvenience, an Asian's way of revenge doesn't smell like eggs. It smells like fermented fish and shrimp. Gallup youth, you have been warned.

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