Wednesday, October 03, 2007
THE FOOTHILL JOGGER
While waiting for the muse to strike me with another story, here's a strange and sad and true tale. While we don't live in the upscale burg of La Canada, Wonderboy and I travel there all week long for his school, for church, for my haircuts, groceries and all sorts of daily life requirements.
La Canada is adjacent to Alta Dena and Pasadena. Foothill Boulevard is a main drag. It stretches west into the more middle class La Crescenta. Then, traveling eastward again, it goes into disguise through Alta Dena, then picks up again in Pasadena. All the way to a pretty little town called Sierra Madre. The distance from La Canada to Sierra Madre is easily more than 10 miles. One way.
Every single day, at some point during the day, you will see a young, blond, skeletal woman in shorts, tank top, baseball cap, pushing a red double wide stroller as she jogs first one side of Foothill all the way into La Crescenta to the west and then back on the other side, heading back to Sierra Madre in the east. She jogs over 20 miles a day. She has been doing this for so long that when you are directly behind her you will hear that she is not even winded. Wonderboy calls her Mrs. Skeleton.
The scuttlebutt from local shopkeepers is that she is the wife of a successful doctor and the family is very wealthy. They say that her schoolage children are also malnourished and very skinny. Their teachers will bring food for them to eat when they are at school because they do not get fed at home. Complaints have been made to Child Protective Services. But, it is said that because the family is wealthy, it has been impossible to remove the children from the home.
Now, I will wager that if this woman was the wife of a blue collar worker and the family was not wealthy, those children would be in foster homes immediately enjoying mac 'n cheese, with apples and carrots and milk. Not to mention breakfast and lunch. Every day. But the husband is a rich doctor. Now I don't know for a fact that this is the reason the complaints filed by teachers and neighbors have been unsuccessful. But I suspect it is true.
What do you think? Do you believe that our legal system panders to the wealthy even on this level? Even to allowing the continued endangerment of children? What do you think any of us might be able to do about this? I know there have been other tragic stories involving the neglect, abuse and hurting of children in "ordinary" or even "priveleged" neighborhoods. Do you think this is now an epidemic? Or is it just because our population has burgeoned so large that the numbers are still, percentage wise, proportional to, say 1960?
The pastors at my church will say to those with family problems, "Well, you better not tell me about any of it because you know I am a mandated reporter". So if this jogger was a member of my church, her children would likely not be helped there either. Do you feel it is the church's place to help in situations like this, if possible? What would your church do?
Meanwhile, this sad woman who no one, including myself, knows how to help, will get up tomorrow, send her schoolage children out without breakfast, then put her preschool children into the red double wide, and spend the entire day running the more than 20 miles, while none of them get anything to eat. Well maybe except for the dad.