They Can't Hold Onto That

There is a group of teenagers in our town that gather in the park at night to smash things. This isn't really that out of the ordinary when you consider their age, but what is interesting is the things they choose to smash. Every weekend, they gather what money they've managed to collect during the week, go to the town's Future Shop and buy the latest gadget from Apple. Last week, we saw them curbstomping an iPad mini near the baseball diamond. The glass from the screen was scattered around first base in the morning.

None of us have any real problem with this, except maybe for the occasional litter left behind. Nothing a few minutes of careful cleaning can't fix. We like our park to stay neat.

Things reach a head when a new family moves into town. They're from California and this is important to them. We don't drink enough green smoothies for them to feel comfortable around us, so they decide to involve themselves in our community meetings. We are immediately bombarded by suggestions: more recycling is needed ("You throw out what?"), more bicycles are needed ("We drive a Volt."), more playground equipment in the public parks ("Children need to be stimulated in ways you don't understand."). It was this last point that brought our local "gang" to their attention.

"You just let this happen?" they ask, outraged as usual at the monthly town hall meeting.

"It's not hurting anyone. Plus, we don't have enough of a police force to waste on staking out the park," we respond matter-of-factly. "If anything, it's encouraging business."

"But it's a waste." They often speak in italics. We find it immodest.

"A waste of what exactly?"

"Well, iPhones, iPads, iPods...all of them."


"You guys obviously don't appreciate the value of an iPhone! Did you know you can record your voice? Shoot video? It even has an integrated personality! We use it all the time to take notes for our novels."

We all nod and take a vote. The result is unanimous save for the Californian family.

It starts to go around that they are staking out the park themselves, determined to stop the horrific acts of violence towards consumer products. They stay there all weekend, camping out in tents and cooking veggie dogs over a makeshift fire pit. The police kick them out one weekend but they come back. No one does anything after that. It isn't hurting anyone.

The teenagers show up one weekend a month after the family starts their watch. There are three boys and five girls. They're holding a sleek white box with an iPhone 5 in it. They calmly walk up to the Californian family and, without saying a word, throw the box into their campfire, kicking up ash that coats the protein dogs hovering above the flames on sticks.

The family is admitted to the local hospital with second degree burns.

Now, on the weekends, the teenagers don't smash anything. Instead, they sit around a designated cooking area with a dim fire and tell each other stories, laughing intermittently. We have town meetings every month to discuss things that aren't teenagers in parks.