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The Paths Towards Entitlement

, , | Right | May 28, 2021

My husband is the estate manager for a large private business park. He continually gets the strangest requests.

Request #1: “On leaving the park and driving down the [public highway], I don’t like the way the next junction is laid out. Please change it to give me the right of way.”

Husband: “That is a public highway. I have no authority over public roads outside of [Park]. I am not [Local Authority] borough council.”

Request #2: *Same person* “I live in [Village one mile from the park] and there is no footpath from my house to the park. When will you be building one?”

Husband’s Reply: “I’m still not [Local Authority] borough council and still have no authority over the public roads outside of the park.”

He has had recent issues with cyclists not dismounting to go through the security gates. As the site is secure, they are expected to do so in order for security to check their bicycles. The gates are narrow and my husband had complaints that cyclists had to remove their saddlebags, so he had new security gates installed that were wider. A few days after they are installed and working, he has a new complaint:

Security: “We’ve had a complaint that the new gates aren’t big enough.”

Husband: “We carefully measured them to make sure they were wide enough.”

Security: “No, that’s not the problem. One of the staff says they aren’t tall enough.”

Husband: “They still have to dismount for the check. Tell them to dismount.”

Security: “No, that’s not the problem.”

Husband: “What is?

Security: “Apparently, the new gates aren’t tall enough for him to get his penny-farthing through.

Husband: “For f***’s sake.”

The guy with the penny-farthing had a visit from my husband, who thought the guy was just having a laugh. Nope, he was totally serious. He had decided that he was now going to ride his penny-farthing to work, and Hubby could just replace those terribly expensive and new gates to accommodate him. It was explained that this would NOT be happening. The guy has gone back to his normal bike.

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And Then, After A Pregnant Pause…

, , , , , , | Friendly | May 13, 2021

My toddler and I are at a park with a good friend of mine and her toddler. We’ve been friends for almost twenty years at this point. We both want another child, and a couple of weeks ago we lamented to each other how we hadn’t had any success getting pregnant. Just yesterday, though, I took a pregnancy test and it came out positive. I know my friend will be happy for me but disappointed for herself, so for the hour we’ve been at the park, I’ve been trying to find a good way to tell her.

Then, out of the blue, as we’re pushing our toddlers on the swings, she says:

Friend: “So… I have some news. I’m pregnant.” 

She’d been having the same dilemma I had and was trying to figure out how to be sensitive to me! It turned out we were due two days apart and had both been pregnant but hadn’t known yet when we were talking about wanting second children. Our babies were born within a week of each other, and she’s my second child’s godmother. All our kids get along well, and we take family camping trips with them nearly every summer. I’m very lucky to have such a good friend in my life.


This story is part of our Best Of May 2021 roundup!

Read the next Best Of May 2021 roundup story!

Read the Best Of May 2021 roundup!

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What The Duke?!

, , , , , , | Related | April 29, 2021

I’m about five, and I’m in the car with my grandparents heading to a forest. A very well-known family frequents the area. Whilst it’s an area Grandpa lived in for a long period of time, he can’t remember how to get there. We’re surrounded by trees, though, so we’re likely to be close. There’s someone in a swept-up land rover behind us.

Grandpa: “I’ll ask that man behind for directions.”

Granny: *Alarmed* “I don’t think that’s a good idea!”

Grandpa: “It’s fine. I must know him; I recognise his face!”

He does just that and approaches the land rover. Then, men in suits just appear from the trees and the surrounding area. Loads of them. Grandpa freezes. I ask Granny who they are and she says they’re security.

Security: “Sir, please return to your vehicle.”

Grandpa: “But we’re lost. We want to get to [Forest].”

Security: *Pauses* “You’re in the forest. Stay on this road and you’ll get to the car park.”

Grandpa: “Oh. Right. Okay.”

He gets back to the car and heads off. There’s a long stretch of silence.

Granny: *Imitating Grandpa* “‘I must know him; I recognise his face!'” *Crossly* “That was Prince Edward, you idiot!”

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Fishing For A Reason To Scream

, , , , , | Friendly | April 21, 2021

I care for three small children; the eldest is a three-year-old boy. One day, I take them for a walk around a local park, and the eldest becomes fascinated by the people fishing along the river for the opening weekend of the fishing season. As he asks excited questions, some of the fishers turn to answer him and let him see their catches and do things like hold their nets.

As we continue, the eldest asks if we can go fishing, too, and I tell him he can only pretend to fish today. To go fishing for real, he needs to talk to his parents and they will have to get a bunch of stuff.

Boy: “Like what?”

Me: “Oh, a fishing pole and hook, you’ll need bait, and you’ll have to get a fishing license…”

A man on the shore screams a curse, turns, and charges at us.

Man: “That’s bulls***! Don’t listen to that. Why would you need permission? Fishing licenses are just bureaucratic bulls***. Why the h*** do you think you need to get anyone’s permission to go out in the world? Do you really believe all that?”

The rant continues, but at no point is it directed at me; he is screaming at the three-year-old. The kid is startled and tries to hide behind me, but the man rounds me and tries to get closer, spitting without a mask.

Me: “Okay… I was just talking to him. We are on a walk. Could you back up?”

The man ignores me, still getting closer, yelling at the preschooler about government overstepping and his personal viewpoints.

Man: “There’s no one who can take my right to take fish from where God put them for me. They don’t need to track my name! They don’t own me; they don’t own you!”

There was definitely something unhinged about him, and as he got angrier and louder, he was scaring all three children, and the babies started to cry. I scooped up the boy and started pushing the stroller with the other children away, telling the man to please leave us alone. It was slow going between carrying the squirming kid one-handed and pushing the double stroller.

It’s at this moment that one of the oldest fishermen suddenly appeared beside me, whispered that he was a retired policeman, and asked if he could take over pushing the stroller. At the same time, two other fishermen stepped between the yelling man and us. They were trying to distract or placate him, but he was literally yelling over them at us.

Thankfully, with the help of the retired policeman, we got some space between us, but I now found myself on the far side of the river from my car. The policeman told me he wasn’t comfortable allowing me back toward the yelling man, as he was obviously unwell and had a holstered weapon. Instead, I took the kids and hid inside a locked public restroom until he gave me the all-clear.

Apparently, the cops were called to diffuse the situation, and they ultimately got the yelling man to leave because, unsurprisingly, he was fishing without a license. Still, I got an escort back to my car, and the policeman pointed out that it was a man-made river that was stocked with fish… by the government.

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If You’re Going To Call The Police, Just Do It And Go Away

, , , , , , | Friendly | April 5, 2021

I am scheduled to visit a friend, but when I arrive, I find her hopped up on pain meds and only half-lucid. It turns out that she had unplanned emergency dental surgery today and is still recovering. I offer to take her younger son out to play for a while so she can get some sleep until the meds wear off.

For the record, the boy is black while I’m so pasty white I could be mistaken for a ghost, so it is clear he isn’t my biological son, not that that means much considering he was adopted, anyway.

I take the boy to a small playground shared with the other apartments right outside their home. At one point, one of the boy’s friends comes up to play with him so I back off a little to let the friends play.

Little Girl: “Can you please push me?”

I have never met the girl before. She is young enough that she probably can’t swing on the swings without being pushed, and she doesn’t appear to have any parents there to watch her. Having nothing better to do while watching the child I am babysitting, I agree to push her a little. I’ve never had the heart to say no to a cute kid!

A few minutes later, my kid starts to run off toward a different playground, at which point I politely excuse myself from the girl to follow the kid I am supposed to be watching.

Around the same time, a slightly older boy that I presume is the girl’s brother shows up and tells her she has to go back home. The girl complains that she was told she could play but the boy insists that her dad wants her home immediately, so they leave together. I don’t think much of this.

Just a few minutes after that, three large and burly men come down from the same area. They all have a very demanding demeanor. The man in the middle is clearly “in charge” of the other two.

Man #1: “Hey, who are you?”

Me: “Huh?”

Man #1: “You, what are you doing here?”

Me: “I’m playing with my friend’s son so she can get some rest.”

Man #1: *To the kid* “Is this man bothering or hurting you?”

Kid: *Confused* “No.”

Man #1: “Do you know him?”

The kid is now starting to sound more afraid than confused.

Kid: “Yeah, he’s our friend.”

The man doesn’t seem satisfied by this; he is looming over the poor child looking quite angry. As a man who regularly volunteers with children, I’m unfortunately used to dealing with lunatics who decide I must secretly be a pedophile because there is no other reason a man might care about children, so I know what is happening here. I can also tell that the kid I am babysitting doesn’t know what is going on and is clearly scared of the looming men, so my main goal is to avoid the man upsetting him any further.

Me: “Why don’t we talk over there so we don’t bother [Kid] while he is playing?”

I start to wander off in the indicated direction, hoping to draw the men away from the playground and the scared child, but one of the two men flanking the spokesperson cuts me off when I only get a little ways away.

Man #1: “Don’t run away. You didn’t answer my question.”

Me: “I’m not running anywhere. We can talk where we aren’t disturbing any children.”

Man #1: “How do you know him?” *Pointing to [Kid]*

Me: “He’s the son of a friend of mine.”

Man #1: “Then how do you know this friend?”

Me: “She’s my friend. I like to visit her and the kids. I’m not really sure what else you expect me to say about her.”

Man #1: “How did you meet her?”

I originally met my friend through some volunteering I did. I’m quite confident my friend would not want me disclosing the details as to her personal situation or why she originally needed my help. I take the promise of confidentiality in my volunteering very seriously. Thus, despite the clear threatening actions of the three men and my general resolve to cooperate to avoid escalation, I am not going to violate her privacy by sharing those details.

Me: “I’m sorry, but that’s private.”

Man #2: “What’s your name?”

Man #1: “Yeah, let’s see your ID.”

Me: “My name is [My First Name], and I don’t have any ID with me, not that you have a right to demand it, anyway.”

Man #1: “That’s a lie. Everyone has to have an ID. Show it to us.”

Me: “I intentionally leave my wallet and keys in the house when I bring the kids out to play so they don’t get in the way or lost.”

Figuring this is getting us nowhere, I decide I’ll get them to hurry up and make their real accusations so I can answer them and hopefully resolve this sooner. So, even though I am quite certain what this is all about, I ask:

Me: “May I ask what all this is about?”

Man #1: “Why were you pushing my girl on the swings?”

Me: “She asked me and I had nothing else to do! Why shouldn’t I help someone who asks nicely for something?”

Man #1: “I didn’t say you could!”

Me: “I didn’t see you around to ask. But if you don’t want me to push your daughter, I’ll be sure to tell her that I can’t if she ever asks me again.”

Man #1: “What about that boy? You couldn’t keep your hands off him!”

Me: *Honestly confused* “I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”

Man #1: “You were chasing him all over and grabbing him.”

Me: “He wanted me to try to tickle him, so I chased him like he wanted! That’s how kids play.”

Man #1: “He was screaming.”

Me: “Kids scream when they’re having fun, especially when being tickled! He already told you he knew me and I wasn’t bothering him, so clearly he wasn’t hurt by playing with me.”

Man #1: “Where is his mom, then?”

Me: “I told you, she is resting.”

Man #1: “So go get her to tell us that.”

Me: “She’s not in a good condition to talk right now and I’m not waking her up.”

Man #1: “I want to speak to his mother now or I’m going to call the police.”

Me: “I’m not forcing her to get up and come out here because you demand it. Please go ahead and call the police. I’m sure an officer could sort this out.”

What I don’t point out is that I have every intention to report all three men for assault if an officer does get called in. Compelling someone to do something (like answer overly personal questions) through implied threat of physical force is a textbook example of assault, and the fact that this man waited until he could round up two lackeys to help intermediate me before he confronted me is pretty strong evidence that the threat was intentional.

Me: “Look. Neither child is hurt in any way. [Kid] already told you who I was and that he is okay, and besides that, statistically, a child is in drastically more danger with their own father than some random stranger, anyway. You’ve proven—”

Man #3: *Cutting me off* “How would you know that?”

Me: “Because I volunteer with kids! I’ve done training on how to identify, report, and handle potential abuse. I have to know those statistics!”

During this time, the three men have kept closing on me to look more intimidating, and I’ve been slowly backing up every time they moved in on my personal space. This is mostly intentional on my part to drag them away from the playground and the poor child they scared, but as a side effect, we have now backed up enough that we are practically standing next to my friend’s apartment.

Apparently, my friend has overheard their voices, because around this time she appears at her bedroom window, sticking her head out. Her few hours of sleep while I watched her son apparently helped, because I am surprised how much better she looks and sounds, compared to how she was when I first arrived.

Friend: “What are you all doing?”

Man #1: “Do you know this man?”

Friend: “Yes, what’s wrong?”

Man #1: “Did you ask him to babysit that kid?”

Friend: “Yes, he often watches my kids.”

Man #1: “Okay, fine, whatever.” *To me* “You’re lucky.”

I still don’t know how I was “lucky” for being assaulted and threatened by three men for watching a child, but all I cared about was that the three men finally left. I brought my friend’s son back inside after that, and luckily, he was young enough that he mostly forgot about the odd encounter without my needing to do much to comfort him.

However, the man in question was clearly not appeased. Numerous times after that when I was out with my friend’s kids, his son was sent over to ask who I was and what we were doing. The kid was too young to be good at deception, so it was blatantly obvious that his father was the one who sent him over to ask the questions. The man never seemed to accept that I knew and could appreciate visiting the kids without any intent to harm them.

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