“Let’s hang around on the corner.” Man, sadly this corner business has led to more grief and sorrow than most young people realize. My favorite uncle – a country boy — decided unknowingly to talk with the guys on a city corner street. The next thing he knew, he was arrested and then took a trip to the police station house. My uncle did not know that the guys he was talking with were involved in criminal behavior. Luckily for him, the cop asked him a few questions and figured out that my uncle, the college country boy, was not aware that his “friends” on the corner were engaged in illegal activities. The cop released him. My uncle had to walk 20 miles to his nearest relative. My uncle was lucky.


I often see young men hanging around the corner. The next day, I read in the newspaper that someone got shot on that corner by a passing car. This, I think, is a high price for socializing on the corner. Why can’t you meet your friends at your home or their home? Why can’t you meet your friends at a social club or a city park?


Traditionally, loitering on a street corner was a criminal offense in many jurisdictions. The thinking in my day was that anytime you saw three or more men talking on a street corner, the police were looking at a potential planning of a crime. There is a saying, “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” In these instances, the devil’s workshop is in the planning and the fomenting of a possible crime (e.g. a robbery).


Perhaps a more telling point is that the young man hanging on the corner may be lonely, depressed, or unable to connect with his family or a serious girlfriend. This personal problem is exacerbated when a group of young men hang around the corner. A young man or woman who has a goal is busy pursuing that goal. The sport guys are practicing for the game. A college guy does not have the time to hang on the corner. A college guy is always looking at tests, finals, and the next semester. The music guys are at a club practicing for a gig. Thus, the guy who is looking for male championship at the corner is looking in the wrong place.


So many young men are doing jail time because they got caught up in sweep or a police raid on a corner. In many cases, the crime they committed was just being at the corner at the wrong time. Under the law, just being there means you are consenting to illegal acts just by hearing or listening to an alleged crime. Your problem is that you have to prove your innocence to the system because it is understood there is no good business conversation being discussed at the corner. If you value your freedom and possibly your life, do your socializing at the home, in a park, at a club or at school. Otherwise you are asking for a disaster.


The young man returning from college should understand and be realistic. Your college or work experiences mean you have moved onto adulthood. A telephone call, a short home visit with friends or a visit to a club is the way to go, since this is how adults connect with each other. Once you leave home you cannot go home again. Everyone changes.  Age has changed you. The people you have met after high school have influenced and redefined you. You are no longer a child or teenager. This means letting the past stay in the past and moving on adventurously to the future. Your post-teen years are supposed to be an exploration about who you are.  Therefore, your goal should be discovering what you really want in life and pursuing that goal.


This corner business is a dangerous and sometimes fatal business for those who loved to talk with homies on the corner. Please weigh these factors when you consider whether you are a sellout. This is your life and you should find out what life has to offer you.

Good luck and move on. The corner life is the past. You are living in the present and trying to prepare for the future. The guys and the gals on the corner cannot help you realize your life’s purpose or your future. The corner friends can only make your journey of self-discovery more difficult. After all, this is your life and you have only one life to live.


The Crawford Chronicles

Warren Crawford, Esq., Attorney at Law, has over 25 years of experience working for the State of New Jersey Department of Corrections. Make sure you read the Crawford Chronicles, published the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 11:00 AM, EST at  www.urbansocialitesnj.com. It might save your life – because your life matters!


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