Monday, December 13, 2010

Choices and Consequences

The storm that dumped all that snow in the Midwest this past weekend brought torrential flooding rain to my hometown and altered some of the plans I had for the weekend. But, just like heavy snow, torrential rain is a good reason to stay home and be safe and warm and get some things crossed off the to-do list.

As a result of being home, alone, more than I had anticipated, I found myself getting into some deeper thought than I generally even have time for this time of year. As various thoughts spun round in my head, I found myself thinking quite a bit about choices and consequences.

Because, you know, for every action, there will be a reaction.

One example would be my choice to never get my college degree. In some fashion, that has dictated my career (or lack of one!). While my age and time of entry into the workforce makes me luckier than say, high school graduates today, the work I do is a direct result of not having that college degree.

Another example: if between now and December 31st, I choose to sit at my desk and eat chocolate covered cherries and Reese’s peanut butter cups every single day, I’m pretty sure that I won’t weigh less on December 31st as I did on November 1st, which as you know was my one year end goal.

You get my drift.

Sometimes, however, the consequences we suffer are not of our own doing at all. Usually I think of small children in this category as they often do not have any choice in their circumstance.

I live in a small city. In fact those of you who live in much more metropolitan areas would not even consider where I live to BE a city. But for this area, it is. I say small because our population is around 26,000 – and it is small geographically as well… 10.76 square miles and nearly half is water. Only 5.54 square miles is land.

Now you understand why when I want to go off on a long run, I have to run one town over!

Matthew Chew was a 25 year old man who lived and worked in the downtown area of the city I live in. On October 29th, he was walking home from work – just a couple of blocks to his apartment, when he was attacked. A call was made to 9-1-1 about someone lying on a sidewalk, maybe intoxicated. When the ambulance arrived they found him lying in a pool of blood, with several stab wounds. When it first happened, the police department immediately issued a statement to the citizens of our city stating that there was no need for alarm as it appeared to be a drug deal gone bad.

Almost immediately, those who worked with and were friends with Matthew protested. Something didn’t add up for them. Thankfully, the police did not let it go and kept investigating.

A few weeks later, six teenagers ages 17-18 years old were arrested. Two were charged with murder and the remaining four have been charged with being accessories.

From the story on one of our local TV stations website (

Police conducted hundreds of hours of interviews and surveillance, which lead to the six arrests. As for motive, the ten-page warrant is sealed but the judge said witness statements indicate there was "no reason” and “because we were bored."

The very thought of this is so absolutely horrifying that my little city has been polarized by it. None of us understand really, this big city crime arriving as it has.

Not to mention that efforts have been made over the past few years to revitalize our downtown: apartments renovated, condos built, businesses built and nurtured to bring people downtown – not just to work but to live also. And it feels like all that is down the drain now.

For me, though, it has become much more personal and I didn’t even know Matthew Chew.

Ever since I began running in 2002, I have been an early morning runner. I love running early before there is too much traffic and noise and before other things will get in my way. Summer running, of course is easier – dawn is breaking and the birds are chirping and it’s warm. But I have slogged through runs in all seasons (as long as there is no ice on the roadside) because I have the equipment: my reflective vest and headlamp. I have always felt safe and even “joked” that were someone to try to harm me, all the homeless men who are out early in the mornings know me so well they’d gang up on that person and save me.

But it’s no joke now. An innocent 25 year old man – someone half my age – was murdered because some kids were bored.

Mr. Helen has forbid me to run outside in the dark by myself any more. Because you see, we live only 2 miles from downtown and I often ran through there.

Through no choice of my own, I am suffering the consequence and am losing my early morning outside runs. I am grieving on a treadmill now, for myself and for my city.


  1. That sucks. I hate to hear that, Helen, for so many reasons. Poor guy, town, and every person this affects.

    Maybe you can carry some high powered pepper spray. Or a tazer!

  2. That's just the saddest story ever. Evil in it's purest form, killing someone because they were bored. I truly don't understand it.

    Mr. Helen is right, you have to stop running in the dark. If for no other reason, his peace of mind. Plus, evil exists and there are others out there that probably would commit a similar crime. It saddens my heart to think about these things, but we must in order to stay safe.

    I'm sorry that happened in your town. It happens everywhere, but when it's practically in your own backyard it's even more disturbing.

    Stay safe Helen. I don't want anything to happen to you. :)

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  4. Cant' spell :)

    Oh Helen, that absoltely sucks. Such a sad time these days in this world we live in. I just don't get the "cause we were bored" it just is beyond my comprehension.

    I do agree with Mr. Helen, as much as you hate it, but for your safety running in the dark probably isn't a great idea. Winter sucks for that because it gets dark so darned early. But it is more important that you stay safe.

    I like Kelly's idea of the tazer :)

  5. Yikes. THat's one of the biggest reasons we bought the treadmill. Mr.Survival was nervous after I was solicited to buy drugs 3 or 4 times. I made us move when it happened within 10 feet of my daughter waiting for her kindergarten bus.

    I know you are totally hardcore early AM outdoor runner. I hope that Mr. Helen relents when it's light out. And that you feel safe.

  6. Just unbelievably tragic - for all involved. It reminds me of an "activity" in Central Park back when the CP Jogger was attacked - I think it was also a group of teens who were out doing what they called "wild-ing". Just for kicks. She wasn't murdered, but critically injured and took over a year to physically recover. She probably still hasn't emotionally recovered and never will. Horrific, and as you said, many people suffer consequences. I think it's smart to follow Mr. H's wishes.

  7. What a sad story. There's so much useless violence in the world these days. We hear it on the news here every week too.

    I do understand Mr. Helen, he's just worried about you because he loves you but I can understand that this is a bummer for you as you love to run in the mornings. Hope Spring will arrive soon and you can go back to running in the morning.

  8. What a sad and tragic story Helen. Better safe than sorry and I know I don't walk in the dark by myself and it sure does change my routine this time of year.

  9. That is so sad. But I have to tell you, my hubs would have told me the same thing. While I am lucky to live 50 miles NW of Chicago, the daily killings that go on day in and day out is just insane.

    And your city is bigger than mine! We only have 14,000 residents! :D

    Maybe Mr. Helen will change his mind after a while? Hugs!

  10. Good for Mr Helen - unless of course you are a sprinter? ;)
    We start to have things like that happen here in the UK - so shocking. Pointless beatings and murders because kids have nothing better to's heart breaking.
    Wait for the light - although I am not sure that deters people like that...

  11. That is just sad and scary. Really makes you wonder about people in general, you know? I'm sad that you can't run like you normally would now, but I'm relieved that you are being cautious.

  12. Hi, Helen~
    Very sad to read this post, both for Matthew and for you. Obviously some very sick, disturbed young people out there who have issues that they cannot even begin to deal with. Being 'bored' is certainly an unacceptable answer.
    I'm sure you will mourn the loss of your morning runs and it saddens me that you are affected by the actions of others even though you are an innocent bystander. Thanks for posting (and welcome to the treadmill club - if you find a way to make it more entertaining, please let me know!)

  13. This has affected all of us Helen. The very evening that Matthew was murdered we ate a 2Wives, where he was working and where he was walking home from when he was attacked. And when I saw the faces of the six accused my heart just broke...for Matthew and his family, for sure, but also for these "boys" and others like him and for all of New London. I am not sure what I, personally, can do, but I've felt somewhat lacking as a citizen lately. What can we do??

  14. What a sad story in so many ways, that poor young man, and ugh, the treadmill. I have said that early morning should be safe because all the "bad" people are sleeping off their night, but who knows?
    Most important is your safety, Ms. H!

  15. tazers don't work on people hyped up on drugs or on crackheads or on people with a high pain tolerance. If you really want protection and you want to run you would have to carry. a gun. minimum a knife and know how to use it. sorry it's gotten to that point in your town. Its the state of our society. a decline in morals. And a poor young man paid with his life.

  16. This is heart breaking to read on so many levels. I am glad to know you are being safe though and like the others have said welcome to the treadmill club.
    When I do walk outside in my park its warm and sunny for starters plus I carry mace, cellphone, and my key chain that acts like a small club...I wouldn't dream of walking outside in the dark alone here in Orlando its just not safe.

  17. This post made me so sad when I read it last night. It was another reminder of how transient life can be. There was a blogger, Margie and her husband, who were retirement age, and they were just taking an evening walk, and were hit by a drunk driver and instantly killed. Even though I never met them, it was like someone I knew very well was just suddenly gone. Life is a vapor....

  18. Oh, Helen, so sorry you are stuck on the treadmill. But being safe is important too! It will be lighter again soon enough. Hang in there.