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Unfair In The Fair

, , , , | Friendly | August 6, 2019

(There is a summer fair for kids in my town and we go there with the twins. My daughter sets her mind to have her face painted, but the line is very long. It stretches along a bench, which belongs to the next table, where you can make your own name-buttons. It’s a bit off to the side, but the people kind of organise themselves and it’s clear that everybody waits. The kids waiting are all using the 30+ minutes of wait to make a button. After a while, my son comes over and wants to join the line. I tell him no, he has to get to the end — there are three kids behind us now — as it would not be fair to the others who waited while he went playing. He sulks off. After 20 minutes, a mother with her two kids appears in front of the face painters, ignoring the seated kids queuing. At first, I think she just wants to ask something, but they seem to be skipping the line. Maybe she misread the situation, I think, and I speak up. There are three painting stations and only two more girls in front of my daughter, and her kids would take up the spot that is about to open for us.)

Me: “Excuse me, the line ends over there if you want to join.”

Other Mother: “Those kids are not in line; they are making buttons. We are next to have her face painted.”

Me: “Um, no, sorry. All those kids are waiting, too. You can’t skip the line like that.”

Other Mother: “You can keep your opinion to yourself.”

Me: “Are you seriously doing this?”

Other Mother: *coldly* “Yes.”

Me:Really? Is that what you are showing your kids is the right thing to do?”

(Other parents are speaking up, as well; the mother after me is also quite vocal about it.) 

Me: “Well, if you really think this is right and how to be an example for your kids, I just can’t believe it. This is just unfair and you are wrong. I will not just be quiet and take this. So, last chance; would you please go to the back of the line like a normal human being with manners? I can’t force you to leave, but I will give you every piece of my mind that concerns you right now.”

Other Mother: “If that’s what makes you happy, I don’t care.”

(I am shaking with anger now and I start giving her an angry mom dressing down from heck. As she has no way of leaving while keeping her stolen spot in line, I have a lot of time.)

Me: “You have no manners, it seems. Did your parents raise you just as badly as you are now raising your kids, to behave entitled? Does it feel good for your kids to be the mom who behaves this badly? The woman who thinks she is better than everybody else? Who wants the world to revolve around her? I just want you to know that you are a bad parent right now and if your kid lies in bed tonight ashamed of her mother’s behaviour, it is your doing alone. What would your mother say about how you act? Probably nothing, as it seems she never had before when you cheated your way through….”

(Just to be clear, I do not shout but speak clearly and my daughter is absorbed in her button for most of it. The other woman is either ignoring me, her back turned to me, or trying again to justify herself with the “if you are in line you should STAND in line, not make buttons” reasoning. As the kid in front of her finishes up, I ask her again:)

Me: “You still think skipping the line is okay?”

Other Mother: “There was no line to skip.”

(I grab my daughter, shove myself in front of her kid, and set mine in front of the face painter:)

Me: “Great, no line? So we are next!” 

(The face-painter hands my daughter the book with examples to choose from. The woman behind us glares. My daughter goes through the book without much enthusiasm and I feel sorry for the situation being kind of my fault. I just can’t stand cheaters. Luckily, the face painter is very nice, seemingly taking her sweet time. Meanwhile, the mother starts ranting at me.)

Other Mother: “I just want you to know, you shoved your butt into my kid’s face!” 

Me: “Well, as there was no line, don’t shove your daughter into my butt.”

Other Mother: “I just want you to know that’s disgusting!”

Me: “Yes, you certainly are!”

Other Mother: “I will report you for harassing me!” 

Me: “You are welcome to call any authority that you want to involve; I’m sure they can help settle this. But I am done for my part.”

(And so are the butterflies. My daughter looks in the mirror and is happy, so we leave. As I am leaving, I hear voices behind me: the next parents are not letting her steal their places, either. I am quite flustered and have to take a break. After some time watching the kids play in the bounce house, I am better and I go over to get my kids some slushies. On the way, I see the mother with her much older daughter on her arm, the girl crying on her shoulder, no face paint to be seen. She sees me waiting for my kids and makes a final attempt to get to me.)

Other Mother: “I just want you to know that you ruined my daughter’s day.”

Me: “Oh, no. That was your doing, not mine.”

Other Mother: “Well, I talked to the boss of this fair and he totally agreed with me. You should go talk to him if you have any decency!”

Me: “You know what? I will do that and see what’s up.”

Other Mother: “You are a horrible–” 

Me: “Nope, I’m done. I don’t need people like you in my life. Get lost.”

(I turn away and get my kids. As the slush stand is next to a kind of information booth, I step over.)

Me: “I think you had to deal with an angry woman right now that blamed me for all her misery caused by not being able to skip a line? She said somebody would want a word with me?”

Booth Man: “Well, yeah, there was an angry lady, but I’m just the guy who takes care of the volunteers. I can’t help you.”

Me: “Yes, you can. Please give my thanks to the face painters for being so calm and my apology for all the fuss with her.”

Booth Man: *seems to exhale and relax a lot* “I certainly will. Sorry, people are kind of crazy today. I just did not want to get yelled at again.”

(Despite her saying I ruined her day, she took the time to keep glaring at me for a while from afar. I ignored her and after a while did not see her again.)

Backpack Pushback

, , , , | Working | July 30, 2019

(Our state fair offers booth space to businesses to advertise products and services. The non-profit office I work for participates every year and gives out thousands of small promotional items for free. Our giveaway items range from stickers, to pencils, to chip clips, to drawstring canvas backpacks. Naturally, the larger items like the backpacks are the most popular. We’re told to push the giveaways, but to allow each person only one of each item. While I’m volunteering at the booth, a woman runs up the table:)

Woman: “Hi! I work at that booth right over there, and that gentleman just bought some things from me, and I’m all out of bags! Could I have one of these to give him?” *grabs a backpack from the table*

Me: “Well, I’m not sure…”

Woman: “Oh, please? Please? He really needs it to carry his things. Please? Can I just take this one bag for him?”

(I think about it for a moment and don’t see any harm in letting her have one bag. It’s still free advertising for us, after all, so I agree.)

Me: “Sure, I suppose that’s all right. You can take that one.”

Woman: “Oh, thank you so much! Thank you!”

(She holds it up and runs back over to the man.)

Woman: “I have a bag for you! Here you go! Here’s a bag!”

(All is well, and I turn back to our own customers… but several minutes later the woman reappears. She immediately lays her hands on the stack of canvas bags.)

Woman: “Hello again! I’ve got more customers and they really need bags for their things. Can I have a couple more? Please, for my customers?”

Me: *repeating my instructions for the giveaway items* “I’m sorry, we’re really only supposed to give away one per person.”

Woman: “But I’m not keeping them! They’re for my customers! They need bags! And I’m all out! Can I just take a couple more, for my customers?”

(I know if I don’t put my foot down, she’ll be asking for bags every time she makes a sale, so I offer a workaround.)

Me: “No, I’m sorry. But they’re welcome to come and visit our booth, and if they’d like to choose some of our giveaway items, including the bags, that would be okay.”

Woman: *disappointedly* “Oh. So, I can’t have even one more bag?”

Me: “No. But your customers are welcome to come and get one from us themselves.”

Woman: “Oh. All right.”

(I watched her ask a couple more nearby booths for bags and then walk back to her customers empty-handed. The customers took their things and left, and didn’t even pass by our booth. Thankfully, that ended other sellers trying to put their own products in our free backpacks!)

From The Rainbow Nation  

, , , | Right | July 26, 2019

Customer: *picking up a beautiful Zulu basket made of telephone wire* “Oh, I love the rainbow pattern in this one! But y’know, it’s too bad they took the rainbow and made it into something it wasn’t supposed to mean.”

Me: “…”

Turning Into A Soap Opera

, , , , | Right | July 22, 2019

(I am working as a volunteer in a reenactment of Bethlehem at the time of the birth of Christ. I am working as a soap maker with three other women and a two-year-old. One half of the area is our shop and the other is a living area. I am working in the shop, explaining soap making to curious guests and handing out samples to children)

Me: “Hello, welcome to my soap shop!”

Guest: *says something in Spanish*

Daughter: *translates* “Can she have one of those?” *points to samples*

(I normally only give samples to children, but if an adult asks I don’t refuse.)

Me: “Here you go!”

(The lady takes the sample and pops it in her mouth. Her daughter and I lock eyes. The soap we have on display is homemade and I get told it looks like cheese all the time.)

Daughter: “Jabon!” *the Spanish word for soap; something I learned from the encounter*

(They leave.)

Coworker: “Do you need a break?”

Me: “Of course!”

(I delight the guests by playing dreidel with the baby until my coworker comes over and whispers to me.)

Coworker: “We had a lady come and eat some of the myrrh.”

(Myrrh is an amber-rock-looking thing that smells good. One of our soaps is made with it and it’s one of the gifts the Wise Men gave to Jesus so we have it on display.)

Me: *facepalm* “It’s going to be a long night.”

Thirsting For Some Punishment

, , , , | Related | May 13, 2019

(A friend of mine told me this story. She is meeting her eight-year-old granddaughter at the annual spring fair in our village. Note: ours is small village so the fair is tiny — two rides, one raffle ticket booth, one shooting range, and four stalls that sell sweets and toys.)

Granddaughter: “Grandma, I’m thirsty. Can you give me money to buy something to drink?”

Friend: “I already gave you ten euros.”

Granddaughter: “I spent it all.”

Friend: “And what about the 20 Euros that your godmother gave you?”

Granddaughter: “I spent that, as well.”

Friend: “Well, if you spent all your money, you just have to go home to get something to drink.”

Granddaughter: *outraged* “Clearly you WANT ME TO DIE OF THIRST!”

(And no, my friend didn’t give her any more money.)