This is a picture I did not take of a middle-aged woman jogging down Erb Street, accompanied by a chihuahua on a leash, who was bouncing around like popcorn, trying to keep up while getting over and around the deposits of ice and slush on the sidewalk.

Is it better yet?

Recently I was on a mid-afternoon coffee run with several co-workers. We were heading up King Street in Waterloo when a silver Mercedes drove by. There were four young guys in the car, the window facing us was wide open, and one of them stuck his head out to shout a bunch of unintelligible stuff as they drove by.

The whole experience reminded me of back in the day in high shool when my brother and his friends would drive by my friends and I and holler stuff. It was such a weird experience that I actually called my brother to inquire if he’d hollered at me on King Street a few minutes before. Nope.

Then, given my thorough confusion, one of my co-workers informed me as to exactly what happened. The guy had been yelling at him, sarcastically commenting on his scarf, and either began or ended the charming interlude with “fag”. Ahh.

But there’s more. Apparently this is not even remotely uncommon for him — happens all the time. Huh? Here? Often the comments are considerably worse. As used to it as you can get, I guess, he takes the attitude of it being the world’s way of making sure he maintains a thick skin.

I was just… boggling. That happens? Here? Often? We live in the same city, but apparently we’ve been living in very different ones, perception-wise. I’ve lived in Waterloo for well over a decade (and my family is from here), so it’s not like I just fell off the turnip truck. But I freely admit that what happened is something I would expect back home in Grey County, not in Uptown Waterloo.

Apparently I have a lot to learn. I even told my co-worker I wanted them to yell at me. I’m pretty good with shit like that (and, less face it, I can whip my bully pants on pretty fast), though admittedly, there’s not much you can do with a cutting remark when people are speeding away down the street.

Some of the people I told about the incident raised their eyebrows as much as I did. Some weren’t surprised in the least. Nothing like being disabused of the notion that where you live and the people around you are not necessarily in fact “better than that”.

Sure, it’s a crappy minority, but it’s still there. It was young people — those leaders of tomorrow and whatnot. And yes, it was a bunch of asshats in someone’s dad’s Mercedes, so you could roll your eyes and write them off as rich asshole frat boys. But a friend of mine had hate spewed at him on the street in broad daylight. That is not cool with me. And it’s plenty of evidence that while “it” might get better after you get out of high school, etc., “it” ain’t fixed yet.