I had drinks with a friend on Wednesday night. When I got home, I parked my car in front of my house. As I gathered all my work stuff together, I noticed that our across-the-street neighbor's high school-aged son was sitting in his car. I stepped out of my car and that was the moment he lifted a pipe (not the kind your grandfather would smoke) to his mouth and took a hit. I stood there, frozen in my spot for about two full seconds. And that was the moment he realized I was standing there and that I'd seen what he was doing. In front of his parents' house. Alone. With the windows up. Hello, awkward! Panic ensued on both sides. He clearly thought I'd bust him and run go tell his parents. I just wanted to unsee what I'd just witnessed. His reaction: drop the pipe and wave innocently but very frantically as though seeing me was the happiest and most exciting thing he'd seen all day. My reaction: what I wanted to do was walk over to him, knock on his window, and point out that not only was he begging to get caught by smoking in front of his parents' house, but that the windows were rolled up, so anyone who gets in that car in the next month will know what he's been doing. I also wanted to tell him however bad he feels about life that he needs to go smoke out by himself in his car in front of his house with the windows rolled up, it's really not that bad and that things will get better (and now I sound like a commercial for gay teens). And I wanted to tell him that the prettiest girls in college don't really go for stoners, so he shouldn't make a habit of it (although I think we're beyond that if he's smoking out by himself in his car in front of his parents' house with the windows rolled up). What I actually did was start laughing at him when his frantic waving began and then I turned around and ran inside.
And then, as I told L what had just happened, the quandary of what my moral and ethical obligations were began. I only know this kid's parents by sight. In the 2.5 years we've lived in this house, I've spoken to his mom all of two times. She definitely doesn't know my name. L pointed out that the kid was wearing a t-shirt about a week ago with a giant marijuana leaf on it, so the parents probably know their kid has at least a slight infatuation with pot. On the other hand, if I had a kid doing the same thing, I think I'd want to know. But do you butt into the business of a family you don't really know? I also realize that on the drug spectrum, there are certainly worse ones he could be doing. As a coworker told me, it's just a little pot; he's probably going to be fine. But I'd still want to know what my kids were doing if I had any. And yes, I realize I could send an anonymous letter, a la JWOWW and Snookie in season two of everyone's former favorite, Jersey Shore, but that's so lame. In the end, three days later, I haven't said anything.