That's just wrong!
June 11, 2008 6:45 PM   Subscribe

How common is it for young people to conceal (weapons and drugs) and steal?

I know stealing and concealing drugs/weapons are kind of different subjects, but what they both have in common...if they get caught other people (innocent) can get in trouble too. Guilty by association.

Within the last month, I found out some crazy things about a few of the people I hang out with.

-I gave a couple a friends a ride down to the bar. Little did I know that the person sitting behind me was drinking from a flask. It is illegal in my area to drink alcoholic beverages in a moving car. Fortunately another friend "told" on her.
-There are rumors that some more people sneaked in flasks at an overnight service project.
-One of my friends discovered that some people sneaked pot in his car.
-A couple people, mostly the guys, carry knives and sometimes guns to everyday places, such as malls and parks.
-Two people admitted to shoplifting.
-One friend caught another friend stealing at her house.

Now, not all of these people are close friends, thank God, but I do hang out with them on semi-regular basis. And I have been hanging out with them for a while. I was just unaware of their "deviant activities" until recently.

Am I just associating with a rough crowd? Or, am I naive and it is quite common for young people (20-28) to do those sort of things?
posted by sixcolors to Society & Culture (46 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I'm 23, and I'd be dumbstruck if I found out that any of my friends carried knives (or guns, but they're illegal here in Australia). I doubt any of my friends shoplift, and they certainly wouldn't steal from someone's house. None of my friends really smoke.

On the other hand, we've sneaked flasks and bottles into movies and university and we've drunk in cars and all that.

I think the general answer here will be 'people are different'. I don't think the behaviour you describe is 'common', but how common it is shouldn't matter: the fact that it makes you uncomfortable should. Regardless of how many people do it, if you don't like it then you can either try to change their behaviour (tricky) or make new friends (tricky as well, but much more realistic).
posted by twirlypen at 6:53 PM on June 11, 2008


Except for the guns and stealing from houses, I knew people (and was sometimes one of them) who did pretty much all of those things from ages 15 - nowish. We're older now, so the deviant activities are confined to sneaking a flask into the ball park (Shhhhh!), or maybe a little weed. I do carry a knife, but it's a folding knife. Does that count? Oh, and I don't think I know anybody's who's shoplifted anything since they were about 20.

I grew up in a middle/upper middle class town, and went to an Ivy, not exactly hotbeds of "rough crowd"s unless you've been really, um, sheltered.
posted by rtha at 6:55 PM on June 11, 2008


You have a quite low threshold for what you consider "crazy things." I would say that, yes, these things are common and (aside from taking guns to everyday places and stealing at a friend's house) these things are no big deal.

What does it mean to "sneak pot in his car"? Does that mean, "happened to have pot in his pocket when riding in my friend's car"?

My suggestion: chill out.
posted by jayder at 6:56 PM on June 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


There are a lot more sociological factors that go into your question than just "aged 20 - 28." I'm sure that in certain circles it's quite common and in others not so much. When I was twenty-something, pot and booze were par for the course, but weapons and stealing were just not done. I would think the question you want to be asking of yourself is not whether these friends represent some kind of national or international norm, but whether you want those behaviors to define what's normal for you.
posted by mumkin at 6:56 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, I'm not judging these people, they are free to do what they want. I just want to keep my record clean, I never even had a speeding ticket. But, if they ever get in trouble, I do not want to get in trouble with them.

I'm just curious how I should handle stuff like this in the future, without you know...using a metal detector or drug sniffing dogs.
posted by sixcolors at 7:03 PM on June 11, 2008


If your gut tells you that this isn't good, find some new friends.
Case closed.
posted by Dizzy at 7:04 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


What does it mean to "sneak pot in his car"? Does that mean, "happened to have pot in his pocket when riding in my friend's car"?

I'm not sure. But he was REALLY mad at them. Going by the tone, I think they must have hid the pot in his car temporarily.
posted by sixcolors at 7:05 PM on June 11, 2008


Or, am I naive and it is quite common for young people (20-28) to do those sort of things?

The rogue drinking? Very common closer to 20, more loserish the closer you get to 30.

Shoplifting? Who knows or cares as long as you're not transporting stolen goods. If two people have admitted to shoplifting some vague time in the past, don't sweat it.. If you think they're stuffing their pockets when you drive them to Target, it's time to disassociate because you're an accessory.

Weapons? You are asking for a world of hurt, especially if the surreptitiously drinking people are the ones carrying the knives. You want to be FAR away from that. That's very much a protest that’s swallowed a bomb, and given the detonator to a monkey. If someone needs more than fists, that's a scene you want to be far away from if you want a future that doesn't involve prison.

Friends who steal from other friends (or their parents)? This is a bad scene that will rapidly get worse. No trust, no idea who will be a victim next. Including you and your folks. Don't associate with anyone who does this.

If you have plans for the future that don't include prison, yeah you need new friends based on the last two criteria.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:05 PM on June 11, 2008


General agreement here. The weapons, especially the guns, would definitely concern me, unless you live in an area where guns are extremely commonplace (think: deer season).

Sneaking drugs and drinks into places in your 20s, regardless of legalities... sure, that sounds pretty normal to me. And drinking (and sex, too!) on a "overnight service project" -- that's to be expected, even among the teenagers.

Don't worry about your "permanent record". You're clearly a straight-laced, innocent sort of guy, and when you're the sober one talking to the cop, he'll know it. The stories of people like you taking the fall for the behavior of those around you are greatly exaggerated.
posted by toxic at 7:06 PM on June 11, 2008


I carry a knife, and it's a fairly big one with a scary looking Tanto blade. Of course, I use a knife all the time, and not just when I'm raping and pillaging. No really, when I'm not working I'm doing something...and something usually is working on something or fishing, all times when I need a knife. Also as a manager of a store in a rural area, I don't mind flicking out an assisted open blacked out knife in front of people to open boxes for them, etc--although I'm sure that's false confidence.

I think also that you could comment on why people have to conceal these things...but...

I think that a LOT of non-addicts tend to drastically underestimate the number of people "holding" at any one time, whether it's bingers holding alcohol for the inevitable party, or pot smokers or crackheads.

I've made it very, very clear to my friends for a very, very long time that I won't get in a car with them if they're even thinking about smoking, and I tend to avoid drug users as a group of people too. NIMBY seems to work for me, although "my back yard" is my immediate presence.
posted by TomMelee at 7:09 PM on June 11, 2008


Sneaking flasks into places, drinking underage and occasional shoplifting are pretty typical teenager activities. I can't think of anyone I know who didn't do at least one of those things.

Stealing from someone's home is not cool at all, but what would really set off red flags for me is carrying illegal concealed hand guns around all the time. Either these guys genuinely feel they might have reason to use a gun in the course of their everyday lives in which case you don't want to hang around them or they are utter tools. My money is on the latter scenario.
posted by fshgrl at 7:11 PM on June 11, 2008


I think you need a more narrow definition of "friend". Until you do that, you will have people that take advantage of your situation so YOU can get in trouble.

I don't mean to be a parent, but if you don't know these people well, and they are doing this stuff and putting you at risk...they are NOT your friends.

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:13 PM on June 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


These mostly sound like things my friends and I might have done as teenagers; I'm not sure that I'd want to hang out with a bunch of 20-somethings who still get a thrill out of sneaking flasks and things. As for the knives and guns: nearly every guy I know carries a pocket knife, and many women keep one in their purse - but only because they're handy, not b/c they're 'cool.' If I was aware of an acquaintance carrying a gun around I would expect them to have a license for it and would probably not hang around with them if they did not. Also: thievery? Blech. Disassociate.
posted by frobozz at 7:20 PM on June 11, 2008


Don't worry about your "permanent record". You're clearly a straight-laced, innocent sort of guy, and when you're the sober one talking to the cop, he'll know it. The stories of people like you taking the fall for the behavior of those around you are greatly exaggerated.

I disagree. Not only is one judged by the company one keeps, one tends to sink or swim with the group. I know I'm not the only person here who as a teen got busted by the police for basically having been hanging around with the wrong people. It's no big deal for you if your friend gets searched by the police and turns out to be carrying a gun -- at worst, your parents get called and it's embarrassing. It's a very big deal if your friend hides his gun under the seat of your car -- "but officer, I didn't know it was there" may keep you out of prison, but you are still going to get a ride downtown and need a lawyer and life will be really shitty for a few months.

My take on this, as someone who is older and maybe not any wiser, but certainly made plenty of mistakes as a teen, is that people who carry illegal guns are not people you want to hang out with (legal guns, used and carried lawfully, is a totally different matter, and don't worry me at all). People who drink a little sounds normal to me, and the same with the pot (but if those things make you uncomfortable, that's totally cool and you should respect your feelings). And with knives, there is a real difference between a simple pocket knife and a switchblade. A little shoplifting is a normal teenage activity... but so is getting caught and having the store manager call your parents and/or the police. And they'll grab everyone in the group, not just the two people with candybars in their pockets.

So I'm saying you should listen to your gut. If your "friends" are making you uncomfortable, they don't sound like the kind of people you need to be hanging around. Maybe it's time to be "busy" when they call up and invite you places, and make a point of going to places where they aren't going to be hanging out. I wouldn't make some big deal out of it, and I wouldn't get all in their faces about why they are leading bad lives -- that's their business, not yours -- but I definitely think just sort of recusing yourself from the situation would be the prudent course of action.
posted by Forktine at 7:24 PM on June 11, 2008


Regarding the guns...

In my state, it is legal to conceal weapons. You can walk down the street with one in your pocket or have one in your car, if it's registered of course. However, you're not allowed to bring one in most of the public places.
posted by sixcolors at 7:32 PM on June 11, 2008


-I gave a couple a friends a ride down to the bar. Little did I know that the person sitting behind me was drinking from a flask. It is illegal in my area to drink alcoholic beverages in a moving car. Fortunately another friend "told" on her.

Pretty common, though kinda inconsiderate, and perhaps suggestive of a not-entirely-healthy relationship w/the sauce.

-There are rumors that some more people sneaked in flasks at an overnight service project.

Unless it's the court-ordered variety, 'overnight service project' sounds pretty good. Let's call this one a wash.

-One of my friends discovered that some people sneaked pot in his car.

Inconsiderate if they're not planning on sharing with him, or if they didn't let him know. But to echo an above poster, plenty of regular pot-smokers pretty much carry the stuff around all the time.

-A couple people, mostly the guys, carry knives and sometimes guns to everyday places, such as malls and parks.

What kinds of knives and guns? Where do you live? Do they have CCW permits? Illegal guns are a pretty big deal. And as noted above, there's a big difference between a Leatherman and a machete.

-Two people admitted to shoplifting.

Plenty of people have shoplifted in the past--say, when they were children or teenagers. Plus Winona Ryder. If it's still happening, it's a bit of a red flag.

-One friend caught another friend stealing at her house.

Bad, bad scene. By far the worst of the things you mention.

On preview, what Forktine said, especially the part about listening to your gut.
posted by box at 7:48 PM on June 11, 2008


Only one of these activities would alarm me, but that's me. They do alarm you, and that's important. At minimum, drop the friends who might get you arrested. Their carelessness can be your undoing.
posted by aramaic at 7:51 PM on June 11, 2008


In my state, it is legal to conceal weapons.

With a permit. Without a permit, it's still illegal - I don't know of any state in which this wouldn't be true.
posted by frobozz at 7:54 PM on June 11, 2008


> I don't know of any state in which this wouldn't be true.

You can carry concealed without a permit in Vermont and Alaska.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:32 PM on June 11, 2008


I probably wouldn't hang out with people who hadn't outgrown this kind of crap by the time they left high school, especially the shoplifting and sneaking around with flasks. Jesus.
posted by crinklebat at 8:37 PM on June 11, 2008


I guess I am sheltered, I was not aware that stuff like this happened often, even in high school.

My previous friends are polar opposites of the people I'm hanging out with now, I'm dealing with many thins that shock me, including things that I didn't mention in this thread. I'm not judging them, just surprised and caught off guard. I'm comfortable enough to remain friends with them, but I will be more aware who I allow in my car.
posted by sixcolors at 8:53 PM on June 11, 2008


A lot of people who carry weapons (legally) do not inform anyone that they are doing so. There are a variety of reasons for this, which you could research if you felt like it. It's not so much that they're being sneaky, it's just that they're not making a point of telling everyone they meet that they happen to be armed.
posted by knave at 8:56 PM on June 11, 2008


Oh man, I missed the ages in the original question -- I had assumed that the question was about high-school aged kids, because that was what my behavior was like at that age.

If you are in your twenties, and you are still hanging out with people who are doing really dumb things, take a vacation and when you get back find new people to hang out with. Change your phone number if you have to, or take this as an opportunity to move to another city that you have been wanting to do.

Getting caught with an open container of alcohol in the car, or with a weapon or a bit of pot, when you are 17 is really embarrassing. They call your mom, you go down to the central station and the scary police detective yells at you and tells you what happens to nice boys like you in the big house late at night, and you spend months meeting with school counselors and bureaucrats in the criminal justice system.

Getting caught for those same things when you are 23 has real consequences, and embarrassment is the least of your worries. They don't call your mom -- you get to call a lawyer and pay for it yourself, and maybe things happened on a Friday night and it takes a day or two before you get to make that phone call, and how many criminal lawyers do you know, anyhow? Things indeed stay on your permanent record. If things really go poorly, you may never get to vote again, you will have difficulty getting certain jobs, and you may not be able to be an adoptive parent. (For things to go that wrong, it takes an illegal gun or other crime, not a simple open container traffic stop, of course -- not all stupidness is equal.)

Being a fuckup in your teens is a very, very normal male thing to do, and there are a lot of social protections for young fuckups (like the programs that let you do community service instead of going to jail, or like the store manager calling mom instead of the police). None of those protections exist after you pass 21, and, to answer your original question, it is not normal to keep being a fuckup into your 20s unless you are a serious and committed fuckup. By the time they turn 21, the nice-but-misguided kids have wised up and straightened up their act; keeping up the bad behavior past 21 starts risking real consequences.

All that said, I think you are conflating the serious (illegal weapons) and the trivial (sneaking alcohol into a church group) -- but either way, even if something has no legal consequences whatsoever, if it is making you uncomfortable, the only smart thing to do is to remove yourself from the situation. Staying around is giving your tacit approval to the activity -- there is not option for hanging around and having everyone (friends, police, passers-by) understand that you are with them but not really with them. You are either with them, or you are not... you can't have this one both ways.
posted by Forktine at 9:01 PM on June 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Nthing that almost all of what you describe is pretty common, at least during a certain 'phase' of teenage years. I think many (most?) teenagers go through a petty crime stage as part of their disobedient/rebellions period.

Getting caught stealing gum at the corner store is sort of a rite of passage in America, isn't it?

But I did choke at "and sometimes carry guns". Maybe it's the Canadian in me (smells like bacon), but that seemed more extreme than anything I'd consider normal.

But the petty thrill crimes, and especially the booze and drugs and such... I think that's just textbook teenage life.
posted by rokusan at 9:26 PM on June 11, 2008


Don't worry about your "permanent record". You're clearly a straight-laced, innocent sort of guy, and when you're the sober one talking to the cop, he'll know it. The stories of people like you taking the fall for the behavior of those around you are greatly exaggerated.

I have to take exception with this advise as well. A close relative of mine who definitely fit the "straight-laced", sober, innocent description ended up in a hell of a legal dogfight after giving an old acquaintance of his a ride somewhere in his car, and unbeknownst to my relative at the time, the old acquaintance had progressed from underage drinking to shooting heroin recreationally. The acquaintance freaked out enough to tweak the sensors of a cop at a drunk-driving checkpoint on their way, and they got pulled over, patted down, and then stood on the sidewalk while the cops searched the car. It was at this point said acquaintance leaned over to my relative and said "Oh man, they're gonna find my kit I hid under the seat. I've gotta tell them it's yours or my probation's shot to hell!". Probation, and "kit" were both news to my relative. And it ended up being a LONG sticky fight through the system for months since the cops at the stop took the guilty-by-association mindset, no matter how squeaky clean, or no matter how many urine tests for drugs my relative passed.

So yeah, I wouldn't trust any cop to pick you out as the "rational, innocent" one of your crowd if there's illegal things happening. If there's a bunch of you, they'll just call a paddy wagon and let the courts settle it out, regardless of how much it costs *you* to defend yourself.
posted by barc0001 at 10:53 PM on June 11, 2008


Nthing that almost all of what you describe is pretty common, at least during a certain 'phase' of teenage years. I think many (most?) teenagers go through a petty crime stage as part of their disobedient/rebellions period.

Woah, woah. Carrying weed around sure, alchohol, sure. But guns that's some very serious bad news. I mean, why would they need them? Are they worried they might get into a gun fight? If that's an accurate perception, do you really want to be hanging around them? Even without the legal issues.

In my state, it is legal to conceal weapons. You can walk down the street with one in your pocket or have one in your car, if it's registered of course. However, you're not allowed to bring one in most of the public places.

Are your friends guns actually registered? I'd bet that even if it may be legal for some people to carry, you need a special license. Do your friends have those?

Also it's absurd to rely on the good sense of cops to keep you out of trouble. There are lots of stupid cops out there.
posted by delmoi at 11:30 PM on June 11, 2008


I'll nth that all you listed except for the guns and the stealing is not that big a deal. (The knife--at times I've carried a pocketknife or a leatherman daily..surely you don't mean switchblades or hunting knives?). People drinking a little or a lot is not unusual, and people smoking pot a little or a lot is also not unusual.

I'm American, and I grew up in a red state, but any guns I encountered were almost always hunters with their rifles and shotguns. A concealed handgun is a rather weird to me, and something I've only seen on TV and in the movies. It would be a bit jarring to see someone at the mall walking around with a gun. Not all states are alike when it comes to guns.
posted by zardoz at 11:49 PM on June 11, 2008


Susie was in a store. The owner called the police because some other teens were shoplifting which is stealing and very hard on a small store owner. Susie was busted with the others whom she did not even know. Susie's dad was a police captain known to the arresting officers.
Moral: Remember 'guilt by association', and the police will decide who is associated.
posted by Cranberry at 11:56 PM on June 11, 2008


Yeah, the things you list can't possibly all be lumped in a big "okay" or "not okay" pile. Some of that stuff is practically ubiquitous and some of it is very uncommon.

Drinking an alcoholic beverage in the backseat of a car? Not the smartest thing in the world, maybe, but a lot of people do it. It's not an indication that someone's moral compass is out of whack, certainly.

Bringing alcohol on an "overnight service project"? Uh... what the heck is an overnight service project? On googling, it appears likely to be some kind of religious thing, which starts to bring this question into focus. I wouldn't know how common this is.

"Sneaking pot" in a car depends heavily on context. If some dude happened to have a little weed in his pocket and forgot to mention it, that's dang inconsiderate but, again, it's not crazy unusual. If, on the other hand, he stashed it in the car without saying anything that is grounds for a beating. That is just Not Done.

People carrying knives? Depends. Are we talking pocket knives or slightly larger folding knives as tools? Or are these guys wannabe thugs and gangsters carrying switchblades and butterfly knives? The first two are totally unremarkable. Hell, I carry a knife on a lot of occasions. Tools like knives and fire are what seperated us from monkeys. Now, a big folding knife would look pretty scary if I took it out in the middle of a grocery store or something, but that's why I don't unfold it in a grocery store.

Guns? Uh... do they have concealed carry licenses? This could be harmless if it's older gentlemen in Vermont or something, but in context...

Any of these things could individually be unremarkable depending on context. But taken together you are painting a picture of a bunch of reckless drunken armed stoners.

That said, I definitely think you have a problem with your calibration of what is normal and no big deal. I can't imagine lumping somebody taking a swig from a hip flask in a moving car in with some freaky mall ninja packing heat without a license.
posted by Justinian at 12:36 AM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


How bad this is really depends on how the guns are carried. If the people carrying are licensed I wouldn't think twice about it. It appears you suspect they aren't and that's pretty bad. I can understand and have even tolerated it with a felon friend of mine but this is pushing the envelope pretty hard for me and it certainly goes in the 'rough crowd' category. However you should know that in states which allow concealed carry it isn't always clear where carrying is forbidden. A lot of places have signs stating that concealing weapons is forbidden but the signs may not put a legal obligation on everyone coming into the area. My understanding is that in some states, if the signs have not been issued by the state they can be ignored. But this is a minor issue. What I would focus on is whether someone who is carrying is drinking or breaking any other law.

Knives are not a big deal to me, even if they are clearly for self-defense. I wish more people would go around armed. But again, if they don't moderate their own behavior (i.e. leaving the knife at home) when they are out getting intoxicated, it's a big deal.

It's probably a function of my having hung out with a bunch of dumbassess, but the rest doesn't strike me as all that unusual. Obviously someone drinking from, or even carrying, a flask puts a driver at risk. When I'm a dummy I let my friends know what's up first and I expect the same in return. So while I think most of this is pretty typical behavior, you aren't being uptight in wanting to avoid an unpleasant surprise. Your friends sound a little too blithe about exposing others. Of course, a lot of times when you're just starting to hang out with someone, a good bit of this sort of thing goes on until you both figure out what the other person is all about and what you're willing to put up with.

As for stealing from a friend's house, this is probably more common than most suspect. My guess is that a lot of it is never recognized. That said, it's tough to imagine a better marker for someone to avoid. Friendship is about trust and the questions you're asking all come back to trust. How much do you trust your friend's judgment? Do you trust your friend to accept responsibility for his acts when he sees that you're on the hook too? It's pretty obvious how trustworthy someone who steals from their friends is.
posted by BigSky at 3:09 AM on June 12, 2008


...why the fuck are you hanging out with these people?
posted by kldickson at 5:27 AM on June 12, 2008


I weeded out a few friends in high school and college based on the behaviors you describe (except for the weapons, afaik that was never an issue). I have no tolerance for bullshit. It's inconsiderate to put your friends in jeopardy (to say the least). I let a friend drive my car to the movies and one of her friends lit up a joint in the backseat. We got to the movie and I told them they had to find another way home. Basically, I need friends I can trust absolutely. If you want to smoke pot, fine, but you don't have to do it in my presence. If you shoplift any time, anywhere, you're stricken from my book. That said, I'm 33 now and I tend to forgive almost anything that a person did before age 25 (except physical violence) as long as they're remorseful now. I don't have a lot of friends but I'd trust any one of them with my car keys, house keys and credit cards, no qualms. It's not about being judgmental; I don't feel that people who use drugs or shoplift are automatically bad people. They're just not the people I want to surround myself with.
posted by desjardins at 6:06 AM on June 12, 2008


I guess how common this is depends on how criminal a lifestyle you and your friends lead. At one point in my life I was actively addicted to an assortment of substances, as were most of the people I associated with. Consequently, it was totally assumed that wherever you went somebody was carrying a substantial quantity of drugs, sometimes for personal consumption, sometimes for delivery to someone else. It certainly raises the anxiety level in one's life, believe me, especially when there's also guns and bad neighborhoods in the mix. One time I went to my buddy's house the morning after drugging all night (to continue drugging through the next day, of course) and the car we were riding around in the night before was totally riddled with bullet holes. He offered up some weak excuse about a beef with a local neighborhood dude about a girl but the fact was that he was a cocaine dealer and these things happen to cocaine dealers. You want to hang out with cocaine dealers? Expect there to be guns out on the table all the time and for someone to occasionally get shot.

I never liked any of this, btw, never romanticized it, in fact, it always scared the shit out of me and added to my already scorching levels of daily anxiety. However, ironically enough, I had a real straight laced friend who loved to be on the fringes of all of this. He never hung out with the real hard crowd that I associated with, that I tried to shield my non-addict friends from, but he loved to hear about all of it and was always willing to let me carry and even use dope in his car. I was always totally upfront with him about what I was carrying, how much, and he was never deterred even though I was occasionally carrying quite a bit of dope as my consumption was pretty ridiculous at the time.

I suspect that he enjoyed the vicarious thrill, the whiff of illegality, because he was otherwise strung pretty tight. Maybe you do, too?
posted by The Straightener at 6:50 AM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nthing that almost all of what you describe is pretty common, at least during a certain 'phase' of teenage years.

Woah, woah. Carrying weed around sure, alchohol, sure. But guns that's some very serious bad news.

Which, um, was exactly the exception to 'common' listed in the very next sentence of my answer.
posted by rokusan at 8:15 AM on June 12, 2008


...why the fuck are you hanging out with these people?

They're awesome to hang out with otherwise, never a dull moment. I guess it's worth mentioning that it's less than a third of my social group who does those things I mentioned. And it's different people doing different things. The guy who carries a big knife, is a non-drinker and anti-druggie. The flask drinkers and pot-smokers don't steal (that I know of). And none of my closer friends (who I spend time with the most) are into any of that stuff.
posted by sixcolors at 8:15 AM on June 12, 2008


I suspect that he enjoyed the vicarious thrill, the whiff of illegality, because he was otherwise strung pretty tight. Maybe you do, too?

There are times that I feel like I'm out of my element when I'm with my current group of friends, including things that I didn't mention in this thread. But I felt even more out of my element when I hung out with my past friends (ALL were straight white upper middle class Christians). It's a breath of fresh air to hang out with people who aren't so "mainstream", and they are helping me to sow my wild oats, which was hard to do with my previous buds. I guess there's a happy middle out the somewhere, though.
posted by sixcolors at 8:25 AM on June 12, 2008


A couple people, mostly the guys, carry knives and sometimes guns to everyday places, such as malls and parks.

No one I know with a CCW permit would carry into a crowded public place where it was totally and utterly illegal to have the weapon. Additionally, if they know someone is not comfortable with the gun, they don't bring it. I'm one of those people, and I have utmost confidence that my CCW friends are not carrying around me. If your "friends" are not so considerate, or if they are carrying illegally or just irresponsibly, I think there is a good possibility that you need some new friends to replace the inconsiderate and apparently mildly stupid ones.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:09 AM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


... and they are helping me to sow my wild oats, which was hard to do with my previous buds

That's a little weird, or at least it would be to me. If someone thought of me like that, I would be a bit put off, I think I would take it as I wasn't good enough or esteemed enough to be an actual friend, that I would be pretty much dropped after you were done with your wild days. Maybe someone in your group has picked up a similar vibe, and is doing things, or exaggerating these "deviant behaviours" to irk you?
posted by kellyblah at 11:17 AM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


and they are helping me to sow my wild oats, which was hard to do with my previous buds

I did something similar but I didn't get my panties in a twist over it. I was brought up very sheltered-Christian and it was hard to throw all that off at once. But yeah, as a 30something I think you really are over-reacting a little.

I'm hoping these people take enough precautions that they don't attract police attention. Drinking in the back seat of a car is pretty low-risk, as is carrying pot on one's person. Even illegal carry is low risk if you aren't doing anything else stupid. But I think shoplifting after the age of 20 is kind of ridiculous, and stealing from a friend is really stupid.
posted by herbaliser at 11:58 AM on June 12, 2008


That's a little weird, or at least it would be to me. If someone thought of me like that, I would be a bit put off, I think I would take it as I wasn't good enough or esteemed enough to be an actual friend, that I would be pretty much dropped after you were done with your wild days. Maybe someone in your group has picked up a similar vibe, and is doing things, or exaggerating these "deviant behaviours" to irk you?


It's the other way around, I've tried to become closer friends with the more "worldly" people in this group. It seems that I'm not good enough for them. I've been made fun of my "straight-arrow ways" and they seem very uncomfortable to have me around when they are in party-mode, eventhough I have shown interest.

I don't think my wild days will be over anytime soon, I feel like I just started them. If/when I happen to calm down, I don't see myself dropping them as friends.

I didn't drop my more conservative friends (some dropped me though), when I lost some of my innocence, so I don't think I will drop these friends in the future if I happen to make another lifestyle change in the future.
posted by sixcolors at 12:21 PM on June 12, 2008


It's kind of strange to me that you think straight white upper middle class Christians are "mainstream". In the US those values are pretty far off center. Smoking weed and covertly drinking in public are very, very mainstream activities. Stealing and illegal hand guns, not so much (although most everyone goes through some shop lifting phase.. one I can't personally relate to).

I can understand choosing not to spend your time with people who behave in ways you aren't comfortable with, but maybe you should realize that in a country with laws as stringent as the US', having fun is often at odds with playing good obedient Christian.
posted by shownomercy at 12:31 PM on June 12, 2008


It's kind of strange to me that you think straight white upper middle class Christians are "mainstream". In the US those values are pretty far off center. Smoking weed and covertly drinking in public are very, very mainstream activities.

I guess "mainstream" is not the right word. The area I grew up in is loaded with people of those backgrounds, as many of my older friends. Smoking weed was pretty much unheard of. There was some drinking, but not at random places. It is done in houses and bars.
posted by sixcolors at 12:41 PM on June 12, 2008


"Am I just associating with a rough crowd? Or, am I naive and it is quite common for young people (20-28) to do those sort of things?"
Disclaimer: I live in California.

Carrying guns and knives around is a big red flag. There are not people I'd recommend 'sowing your wild oats' with.

Drinking in the back of the car without asking is questionable (it might get you an open container ticket, o noes), but forgivable if it stops when you want it to.

'Sneaking' weed into your car depends: in a Free State like California, having medical marijuana is legal if you have a note from your doctor. That being the case, having it on their person is legal, and it wouldn't be a big deal if they're riding in your car with it. Unless it was a sizable quantity, if it was hidden in your vehicle and you were caught with it you'd likely face a fine on par with the fine for jay-walking. It wouldn't go on your criminal record. That being said, in other non-Free States you could go to jail and get a criminal record, and that would be a Dick Move on the part of your colleague. In Saudi Arabia and some parts of Utah, you'd be beheaded for it. So context is important here.

People stealing from homes are destined for the room in hell next to the furnace. Cutting them out of your life would not be a mistake.

People stealing from businesses have poor judgement and are probably not people you should be close to.

Overall, I think the idea of 'sowing your wild oats' is wrong. You should enjoy yourself at all phases in your life, and do things which are interesting and fun for you. Keep an open mind about people, but don't hang out with those who you can clearly see are going nowhere and will take you with them. You don't need a pre-planned 'phase' where you allow yourself to do stupid things.
posted by mullingitover at 1:02 PM on June 12, 2008


I'm 37 and I've carried a knife on my every day of my life since I was probably 12 years old. Right now, it's a 2 and a half inch blade with a design that lets me open it as fast as an automatic, but uses no springs (other than the liner lock.)

This is the norm amongst my peers. A knife is an incredibly useful tool and it's unfortunate that it is first thought of as a weapon. The chief benefit of being able to open one quickly and with one hand is that generally, when you need a knife to cut something, it's usually something you are holding in your other and having to set it down is kind of a hassle.

In fact, prior to switchblade/ automatics being made illegal in the US as a result of films like Rebel Without a Cause and West Side Story they were mainly used by veterans of the first two world wars who had been wounded and my not have actually had two hands to open their knives. It's a pity that they have been so vilified, but to be honest, most knives nowadays can be opened as fast and are totally legal.

In short, I wouldn't assume that just because someone is carrying a knife that they are intentionally concealing something. A lot of times, it's just really useful. (Though, some knives are clearly carried as weapons. But obviously, I'm not talking about those here. I'm just suggesting that for some of us, it's not about the weapon, it's about the tool.)
posted by quin at 2:48 PM on June 12, 2008


Given how batshitinsane the cops are in America, and presuming you are in America, sneaking pot in your car is not cool at all. Their selfishness could result in you losing your car. The cops can be right bastards about it if they want to be.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:21 PM on June 12, 2008


As a Brit:

Booze: fine
Weed: fine
Stealing from a house: Would stop associating.
Carrying a knife: Would stop associating.
Carrying a gun to a mall: Would assume that person was insane. Would never see again.
posted by Cantdosleepy at 7:22 AM on June 13, 2008


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