Matt D From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 9502 posts, RR: 49 Posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 1335 times:
Coming home from a lunch meeting in Rialto today, I happened to see something interesting.
Westbound on the 91 freeway around Imperial Hwy, I came up to a bus. It was a school bus type, but it was a private bus (i.e. no red flashers, not painted yellow, non-exempt plates, and so on). As I got closer to the bus, I happened to notice that one of the kids was holding up a sign in the rear window. I tried to inch up close to it, but couldn't quite make it out. I was able to read "help" but nothing else. But I had my camera with me so I snapped off a couple of shots including a zoom shot of the kid and the sign he was holding.
When I got home, I hooked up the camera and was able to enlarge the pictures. My jaw nearly dropped when I saw what it sais, which was: "Help. We're being kidnapped".
My stomach sank as I realized that I could've called 911 from my cell phone while on the freeway and had the bus in sight. But as I said, I couldn't read what the kids were saying.
I decided that the best thing I could do would be to go down to the police station and show them what I had.
On the way over, I saw a policeman going the other way. I flagged him down. He pulled over and I turned around and pulled up behind him. Following standard police etiquiette (showing both hands, ask for permission to get out of the car, removing my sunglasses and so on...he did...rightly so have one hand on his gun holster, not knowing who I was or what to expect), we approached each other and I explained to him what I saw, and showed him the pictures. He took down my name and number and such, told me to hold on to the pictures and if they needed them, they would contact me. But he said that as of that time, no Amber aAlerts had been issued, but they would definitely be contacting the registered owner of the vehicle.
So I did what I could. My conscience is clear.
In all probability, the kids were just messing around and joking. But these days, why take any chances? Countless times I've seen kids in buses holding up signs saying a number of things ranging from "Sea World Or Bust", "Class Of 2004 Rules", "Pick your Nose", "Honk Your Horn", and so on. Kids being kids.
As I said, they take stuff like this very seriously these days. It would be just my luck that the kidnapping was real, and someone else jotted down my license plate number as a witness ("there was this guy driving a burgundy Mustang Cobra with a black convertible top taking pictures of the bus") and I get a knock on the door at 2 in the morning from the Highway Patrol and get placed under arrest for "witholding evidence".
So why take any chances?
But holding up a sign like this, even if, ESPECIALLY if it's a joke is just plain sick. It's a reflection of poor parenting and definitely speaks of "crying wolf" that one day, could cost a very real kidnapped kid his or her life.
I hope the police contact the owner of this bus and the parents of the kids involved. Even if you are the next Bozo the Clown and have an endless sense of humor, there are some lines that should never be crossed and could not only get yourself in trouble, but possibly cause someone else great harm.
"Pushing the envelope" by showing the Stripper and Donkey act on Comedy Central is one thing.
Driving down the freeway telling anyone who notices that you are in grave danger, when in fact you are just getting your jollies is quite another.
I hope these kids get a severe tongue lashing, a spanking, and no Cell phone, TV, or Internet for at least a month.
Assuming, of course that they were joking.
If this was a real kidnapping, I hope that maybe one of you will recognize the plate and/or face of the kid. Or know someone that does.
Cadet57 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 9085 posts, RR: 32 Reply 5, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 1305 times:
Well the fact that the moronic kid is smilin, I wouldent loose any sleep over it Matt, hell Ive even made a sign like that once, but boy did I get fogged when I got home, still got the scars.... Wanna see?
Doors open, right hand side, next stop is Springfield.
Matt D From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 9502 posts, RR: 49 Reply 6, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 1302 times:
Please re-read my post. Even if it was a joke....and I was "had" as you say, what the fuck is funny about a joke like that? Why WOULD you joke about something like that in the first place, unless you had some very serious emotional problems? This isn't a plastic flower that squirts water at you for Christs Sake.
StuckinMAF From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 14, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 1249 times:
Quoting Matt D (Reply 9): Excuse me for actually giving a rats ass and caring.
Fine. Next time I see something like this, or a wreck, or some other situation where life or property is in imminent danger, I'll just whistle and look/walk the other way.
Matt, really, you did the right thing. Don't be upset that you did it, it's just that your sense of community is set higher than some other people's is. I don't think the other posters are laughing at you as much as they are laughing with you. Yes, it's certainly possible that this could have been for real, and yes, they may have had no other hope had the situation have been real than the help you tried to get for them. I've done things like that, too. Lots of times! I think we all have! I called the cops day before yesterday because a huge plate glass window was shattered at the Post Office and I was afraid someone might get hurt, but I'd be willing to bet I was the only one that did call them out of all the people who had been in there since it got shattered. Lots of people would think it was none of there concern and just leave it at that.
Be proud of what you did! And don't let these guys (and gals) get to ya, you know how they are.
Matt D From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 9502 posts, RR: 49 Reply 17, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 1205 times:
Are practical jokes illegal in the USA or something?
Of course not. I love the Three Stooges and the Naked Gun Movies as much as any other guy does. I've done my share of stink bombs, glued coins, and so on.
One gag I never tire of is sending a FAX to someone that is written in total gibberish chicken scratch. The only thing that's legible is the recipients name and then, after a full page, the words "need asap". It was done to me once, as shown below. And now I dod it to other people and it never gets old.
So I do have a sense of humor.
But the question that remains unanswered is where do you draw the line between being funny and being recklessly irresponsible?
If those kids are/were cognizant enough to write such a note, containing the word "kidnapped" as well as the context, it means that they at some level HAD to know what they were doing. That, to me crosses that border.
To those who say that it was "just a harmless prank"....
What if some time down the road, I see something like this again? And I think back to this event and just sluff it off as a joke. Then on the evening news, I see an Amber Alert was issued involving the vehicle I described. I had a chance to do something about it but ignored it because I simply assumed it was another prank.
Go see the movie "The Good Son". Some jokes do carry things too far, and no matter how innocent the kids may have been thinking, there comes a time when a "joke" needs to carry some consequences.
Vikkyvik From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 9039 posts, RR: 28 Reply 18, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 1188 times:
Don't worry about it man, you definitely did the right thing. And if it was just a joke, well, that is a pretty screwed up joke. But as has been mentioned, kids often don't think about consequences, and doing things like this and getting caught is the way they will learn. That said, hopefully their parents will find out about it.
It's always better to err on the safe side.
"Two and a Half Men" was filmed in front of a live ostrich.
StuckinMAF From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 19, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 1170 times:
Quoting Matt D (Reply 17): But the question that remains unanswered is where do you draw the line between being funny and being recklessly irresponsible?
And for minors in a situation like that, the question will remain unanswered because there is no "fine line". The only thing that could be done legally is to hold the driver responsible for the passengers' actions and there is absolutely no way the driver knew that was going on, especially considering the traffic that is visible in the picture. And you know that if you or the cops go after that bus driver, it's going to make you look like a jerk because you didn't have a sense of humor.
Quoting Matt D (Reply 17): and no matter how innocent the kids may have been thinking, there comes a time when a "joke" needs to carry some consequences.
When is that "time"? What "consequenses"? You can't do a damn thing to the kids because they are obviously not of age to be "responsible".
Matt, go back and re-read the responses to your post. There are a lot of people here that are on the outside looking in and giving you a lot of constructive perspective that you might want to consider. Granted, you might think that none of us were there so we don't see it the way you did, but your pictures speak a lot about what happened, and after all, you did ask our opinion.
Saxdiva From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 2382 posts, RR: 44 Reply 21, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 1140 times:
Don't be sure that the registered owner of this vehicle won't get a phone call from the police. They might not tell you anything more about it unless charges are filed, but they may get in touch with the kids' parents to let them know what was going on. So don't sweat it... you did exactly the right thing.
KaiGywer From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 12129 posts, RR: 37 Reply 22, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 1137 times:
While I also believe this is a joke, I think you did the right thing Matt. Worst thing that'll happen is that the owner of the bus gets a visit from the police, and when the driver sees the kid, I'm sure the kid will be recognized and parents notified. Now, we all know who kids fear most. A police officer, or mom pissed off