Friday, January 12, 2007

Attack of the Spork

Last year in the spring/early summer time it was a normal Sunday. Funny Girl, D and I had just finished attending church and decided that we would grab a bite to eat before heading our separate ways.

Our church is in an area were there are a lot of nice sit down restaurants within a few miles, but our growling stomachs were craving KFC so we hopped in our cars and off we went.

D and I drove in my car and we met Funny Girl at the restaurant. We all walked in together and saw a line of people patiently waiting for their after church smorgasbord (tons of churches are in the vicinity). I tell D to get a table and Funny Girl and I stand in line.

D goes to the back of the relatively small KFC to one of those tall tables with the barstool type chairs and sets down some stuff indicating that the table is in use. He then comes back to make sure that I knew what to order him. I verified what he wanted and with a smile he skips back to the table to wait.

I turn back toward the front of the store waiting my turn chatting with Funny Girl when D comes up behind me and taps me on my arm. I turn around and look down at him and notice that his is visibly upset. He motions for me to lean over so he can whisper in my ear and says " That lady over there in the white shirt tried to trip me and said in a really mean voice "Slow Down!""

I look at the woman the he is describing and it is an elderly woman probably between the ages of 60 and 70 sitting at a table with 2 other elderly women.

I turn back to D and say something comforting and suggest that he not worry about it thinking that he must have interpreted something incorrectly. Then the person behind me says "She did try to trip him".

I look at Funny Girl and she looks back at me with a "WTF??" look on our faces.

Something you need to know about me is that I am not a confrontational person. I like to discuss things calmly with a minimum of drama. If I am really upset or agitated, I will leave the area until I can calm down and discuss things rationally. I do this because if I am really upset I tend to either really lose my temper and start yelling or I break down it tears and no one can understand anything that I am saying. Since I don't like either of these options, I will wait until I can talk rationally.

After a short internal battle trying to decide if I should do anything about this, my mom instincts kick in and I conclude that I need to approach this woman regarding the situation.
I leave my place in line and walk towards their table with D following closely behind me. Funny girl remains in line but has turned towards the seating area to watch what happens.

I approach their table and say in a polite, quiet voice to the elderly woman "Instead of sticking out your leg to trip a child, next time you might just ask them nicely to slow down".
She could have said "OK" or looked at me and nod or not respond at all and I would have walked away and not said another word about it. Unfortunately none of those things happened. (from this point on I will refer to her as Old Biddy #1).

Old Biddy #1 turns toward me with a condescending look of superiority on her face. I notice that she has facial hair growing out of her chin which has turned white and that she has a horrible case of dry skin and bits are peeling up and I wonder whether any has fallen into her plate. She says "If you would have been watching your child I wouldn't have had to do anything".

Me: "My son was doing what he was told to do. That doesn't give you the right to try and trip him. He could have fallen and gotten hurt" (I am still attempting to remain calm at this point).

Old Biddy #1: "I didn't try and trip him, I stuck my leg out across the aisle to try and slow him down. He was running in the restaurant and you weren't watching him. If you knew how to parent correctly this wouldn't have happened. My children would have NEVER behaved that way in public".

Me: "How dare you tell me that I am a bad parent and how dare you tell me that my child mis-behaved. He is standing RIGHT HERE! He wasn't running and again, he was doing exactly what he was told to do. That doesn't give you the right to try and trip him. He could have gotten hurt and then you and this restaurant would be liable and could be sued".

My voice has started to get louder and I am visibly upset. People in the restaurant are starting to stare openly or put their head down trying to look invisible.

At this point another woman (Old Biddy #2) sitting at the table decides to butt into the "discussion" and says "He was running through the restaurant and the sound of his shoes slapping on the ground was hurting my ears".

I turn to look at her. She reminds me of Barbara Bush with her white hair but more of a dollar store version. Cheap Wal-Mart shirt and shorts, no make-up or hair style other than cut short so she could brush her hair and go. The lines on her face indicate that she has not had a happy life. Very few laugh lines and deep brackets around her mouth show a history of pepetual frowning. She matches Old Biddy #1 quite well.

I look down at D's shoes and notice that he is wearing rubber soled flip flops. There is no way that his shoes make a noise loud enough to cause any normal person pain.

Me: "If you can't handle loud noises then you shouldn't come to a fast food restaurant. You should go to an old people restaurant like Russ'. It doesn't give you or anyone else the right to try and trip a child. If he was hurt that would be assualt."

Old Biddy #2: " Well he assaulted my ears".
I am boiling mad. I have been insulted, my child maligned to his face and I wasn't going to go quietly. I happened to be wearing sandals with thick wooden soles. I lift my right leg up a few inches and smack it down as hard as I can for maximum sound.

The clap echoes through the store and if anyone had been unaware of what was happening up to this point ( it had gotten quite loud as I was using my "outdoor" speaking voice that I would use if a semi-truck was going by or an airplane was flying over) it was apparent that something was going on.

Old Biddy #2 flinches, screws up her eyes and with her spork in her hand swings at me, hitting me in my left arm.

Absolutely speechless for a moment I look down at my arm and see red scratches from the spork along with bits of mashed potatoes sticking to my arm. In shock with my eyes opened wide I sputter "You hit me. You could be arrested for that and go to jail. That is assault".

At this point I am in such shock that things get a bit hazy. Insults fly back between me and Old Biddy #1 & 2 at a rapid pace.

Then Old Biddy #3 (a well coiffed birdlike lady) starts to make a comment. I turn towards here with fire in my eyes and say "Do you REALLY want to become involved with this? Do you? If not then shut the hell up!"

Funny Girl is standing to my left and D is standing slightly behind me to my right watching the exchange with eyes like saucers.

Finally after around 5 minutes the assistant manager walks to the table and very politely asks if everything is OK .

I tell him what has transpired from the attempted tripping of D to Old Biddy #2 hitting me with a spork pointing out that I still have food particles stuck to my arm. The assistant manager asks me if I want him to call the police.

My response, which I regret to this day was "No, she is such an old hag that she would probably die in prison."

At this point I realize that nothing that I say will make these women admit or even realize that they are in the wrong so I turn to Funny Girl and say "Let's go." I grab D's hand and we walk out of the store.

As soon as we walk out of the store I walk about 6 feet to the left of the door towards the back of the restaurant where no one inside can see me. I lean back against the concrete wall and start to shake. I am so angry but absolute mortification starts to set in as well.

My mind is racing. Did I really just do that? Did I really just stand there in the middle of a full restaurant yelling at old women? Was I justfied in what I did? How could I have done that? Why did I call them names? I like elderly people.

Some of these questions are internal but some spilled out as well. Funny Girl is trying to calm me down and convince me that I was justified in what I did. D is stomping around repeating some of the things that I said to those old women calling them old biddies.

The guilt is setting in.

A young girl comes running out of the restaurant with something in her hands. She looks around frantically for a moment and than sees us standing a few feet away. She is holding D's sunglasses in her hand and brings them over to me and says "You left these at the table".

I take them from her and thank her. She stands there for a few moments and her mother follows her out. Her mother walks about 10 feet and turns around.

"I just want to let you know that my daughter saw the entire thing and she did try to trip your son. You were completely justified in what you did. I would have had her arrested."

I thank her and feel such relief that I am tempted to walk up and give her a hug.

Funny Girl and I stand outside for a few more minutes while I continue to calm down. The shaking subsides but the righteous indignation sets in. How could I let those women run me out of KFC? Oh, heck no!!!

I turn to Funny Girl and tell her that we are going back in. She asks me if I am sure that is what I want. My response was something along the lines of "I am not about to let some old hags run me out. I am hungry and I want KFC!"

Heads held high we turn and march back into the restaurant. The rush is over and there are still people eating but no one is in line. We walk to the front counter and the assistant manager walks up. The look of apprehension in his eyes shames me. He is afraid that I have returned to start a scene again.

I assure him that I am not there to make any trouble and I apologize for my behavior. He looks at me with relief and says "That's ok, I got the full story from a bystander".

D pipes up "Who won?"

Me : "I this kind of situation D, no one wins."

Insistent he turns to the assistant manager and repeats his question.

The assistant manager looks at him and says "You did."

Euphoria floods my body. I was right. I was justified. I did what any protective mother would do.

We place our order and get our food. I tell Funny Girl and D that we are going to sit at the same table that we had previously chosen knowing that we would have to walk past the table of old women.

Funny Girl looks at me and says "Are you sure?"

I nod yes and we start walking towards the table. D decides that he doesn't want to walk past them and goes all the way around the other side to get to our table. Thinking to myself "Just say ONE thing. Just one and it is ON!" I sail past their table with my head held high, skirt fluttering in my wake and walk to our table. They never said a word.

I get to our table and it has the tall barstool chairs. If I wanted to be polite I would have quietly pulled the chair back and sat to eat. Instead I decided to give a bit of payback.

I slowly pull my chair back while the metal legs screech across the brick floor making noises reminescent of fingernails on a chalkboard.

Screech, screech, SCREECH!!!

I sit down waiting for Old Biddy#2 to say something about her ears but all I hear is silence.

We start to eat and talk about what happened and after another 10 minutes the old women get up from their table, throw out their trash and walk out the door.

We finish our meals and get up and leave. Funny Girl goes to her car and D and I walk to mine. We get in the car and drive off.

I look in the rearview mirror to get D's attention and I say to him "I am sorry that you saw that. I feel bad that you had to hear the really mean things that woman said."

D replies "Am I really like she said?"

Quickly I say "No, that woman doesn't know you and you aren't at all like she said. But I shouldn't have lost my temper and said the things that I did. I lost control but I wasn't going to stand there and let her say those things about you."

With the starting of tears glistening in his eyes D says something to me that I will never forget. "I didn't know you loved me that much."

It crushed me but at the same time inspired me. I told him that of course I do. I would die for him. I will do anything to protect him.

And even though I yelled at old women, got attacked with a spork and endured embarrassment, mortification and shame I would do it all again just to prove to my son how much I love him.
Plus, it makes a great story.


Sofi said...

Another great post, Rachel. I laughed, cried, then had an undeniable urge to beat up an old person. Miami is full of elderly people. Most of them are very nice, but the mean ones are horrendous.

You taught D a good lesson about sticking up for oneself.

Freckle Face Girl said...

Your story was amazing & I thought you handled it perfectly. Sometimes being a mom means getting very protective and the old lady really needed to hear that she was wrong.

Dennis said...

Just watch out for the next flying spork. Those can be dangerous. Most old people are great most of the time. My guess is they forgot to take their geritol that day and where a little bound up.

reformattingmybrain said...

Another amazing story Rachel. Your comment where you say "You like elderly people", that's very true - we can like everybody of every type but that doesn't mean that there aren't just flat out mean people out there, elderly or not. I think you handled it wonderfully.

Playtah (aka Funny Girl) said...

Rach, I remember that day vividly. Your post discribed it wonderfully.
Sticking a leg out to stop someone from running.....really, what did she THINK was going to happen?

And by the way, chica, you really are a very good writer!!!

Rachel said...

Sofi ~ I mainly deal with people 50 and older in my job every day. You are right. Many are fantastic but you get a mean one and it can ruin you day. Heck, they have had 50+ years to perfect their nastiness.

Freckle ~ I am a Libra and I am classic in the fact that I HATE confrontation or dissension or unfairness. For me to walk up to someone and confront them is extremely rare.

Dennis ~ Don't forget that I now have my holster and belt with my shiny black spork just waiting for another attack. (this was made and given to me by a co-worker who heard the story. She made it out of paper bags and even added fringe to the side of the gun holster).

Reformat ~ I wish that I would have pressed charges against that woman. That is my one regret. It would have definitely taught them a lesson.

Funny Girl ~ Coming from someone who write 10x's better than I do that is a real compliment.
I really need to re-learn sentence structuring and how to make things flow better. I have forgotten a lot of what I learned in high school.

Tara said...

This post made me go from hungry, to angry and anxious to completely touched. It was quite exhausting, Rachel. :) You rock.

I am so glad that you guys went back into the restaurant to eat, and I'm thrilled that you pulled that chair back as loud as possible. I would've done that. I can hear it in my ears now and it's priceless.

I don't like confrontation either and for you to go up to those ladies to stand up for your child is very inspiring and impressive.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Y're damn right it makes a great story! I'm so glad you stuck up for your son and yourself here.


Moment said...

Oh my gosh! I just teared up. Everything you said and did was right. When it comes to your child nothing you do is wrong if it's to protect them. Good for you!

The Furtive Wangler said...

You should have thrown a jug of water over them and laughed as they melted! Then you could have taken the ruby slippers!

Excuse me, I have a pill to take now...

David in DC said...

Like President Bush, these ladies pretty much demolish the myth of white supremacy.

(Joke stolen from Congressman Charles Rangel D-NY)

laughingattheslut said...

Okay, kids are not supposed to run indoors and we're not supposed to let them run indoors and I'm sure her kids have never run indoors. But there's a difference between rushing back to make sure no one gets your table and say something like playing baseball in the restaurant. If she were actually going to be hurt, she'd have the right to physically do something, or maybe even if he was playing baseball indoors she'd have reason to believe she'd be hurt and should do something. But probably the only one who might be hurt by D rushing back to get a table would be D himself, so trying to trip him and make sure D gets hurt is not a good way to prevent injuries.

Okay, so I'm so sick of parents who let their kids do stuff they are not supposed to do, and then either tell me the kid did not do that when in fact they watched their kid do that, or they know their own kid and should know that that is the way he behaves and he probably did that. But that didn't happen here, cause someone else in line (didn't sound like you knew this person) saw the whole thing and told you what happened.

About calling the police, I know it sounds silly, but maybe just calling the police doesn't automatically send the old lady to jail. I shouldn't worry you, but you were stabbed, you did bleed a bit, and it might have gotten infected (especially since it was probably a used spork). So there should have been at least an incident report for the restaurant's insurance, and since it was an attack and not an accident like one would expect might happen at a restaurant, the police should have at least come to get their information in case something came of it later.

:) :) :) :) :) :)

I'm sorry about the old lady's sensitive ears, but in a restaurant at lunch time, I wouldn't think that shoes would make that much noticeable noise. What would really have been funny was if when you made noise with your louder wooden shoes the other people in the restaurant had started tapping their shoes until the noise got to much for the old ladies and they left. :) :) :) :) :)

Wanderlusting said...

OMG! You just seem to have one adventure after another.

I only thought it was those wicked teenagers that caused the trouble but now I know to look out for the OLD BIDDIES as well!

Seriously though, you were right to do everything you did and D is very lucky to have a mom like you.

PS I also enoyed the dying in prison remark. High five!

August said...

I have tears in my eyes from what D said to you afterwards. That is so touching. What kind of mother would you be if you didn't stand up for him? Kudos & you have some big kahonis, lol!

I equally despise situations like that cause I'm pretty laid back & easy going & get all shaky afterward. I am so glad when I do stand up for myself or others with me. p.s. found you from MJB's site.

l.b. said...

Like you, I am not at all confrontational. But how could you not defend your child? I would have done the exact same thing in your place. And clearly D was grateful that you listened to what he told you and acted to protect him.

Basic Theology said...

so much for not funny.

Babybull40 said...

wow!!! That was something.. I would've done the exactsme thing.. whether my kid was there or not.. Old people sometimes act as though we owe them and we ought to bow to them.. but not so.. I've encountered rude Biddy's and believe you me.. I laugh right in their faces... You are teaching your son to stand up for himself and that htere are consequences for your actions.. guilty of loving your son.. nothing else.. WTG... Girl you rock!!!!!!

Lydia said...

Really glad I decided to catch up and not just read your most recent entry. Very well-written and you got me laughing and then feeling so moved. And what a crowning glory when you went back in to have your meal. I think you handled the whole thing admirably.