Thinking Outside The Parenting Box

, , , , , | Right | April 14, 2020

I work at an entertainment facility that often hosts kids’ birthday parties. We offer party rooms and activities, but we do not provide childcare and never have. Whenever a customer makes a reservation, it’s clearly stated in the form they sign that children under thirteen must be accompanied by at least one adult at all times.

One Friday afternoon, when we are slammed with customers, a mother comes up to me in our lobby area with her son who’s nine or ten years old.

Mother: “We’re here for [Child]’s birthday party.”

Me: “Welcome! That’s great! That party actually starts in about one hour, so—”

Mother: “Oh, I know. I still have to go pick up my daughter, so I’ll just leave my son here for now.”

I gesture to our lobby, which is open to the public and currently full of people coming and going every which way, trying to help her notice. When that doesn’t work, I try to think of the most professional way to make this woman realize that she would be crazy to leave her son here alone.

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry, but all of our employees are busy helping other customers right now. There would be no one available to watch your son.”

Mother: “Oh, that’s fine!” 

I think she has finally come to her senses.

Mother: “He doesn’t need watching!”

I’m shocked and wondering how I can make this more obvious without offending her.

Me: “Uh… Well, it’s really up to your discretion, ma’am, but we are not certified to provide childcare and none of us are trained to—”

Mother: *Angrily* “You don’t get it! You don’t have to do anything! I’ll just leave him here and he’ll be fine!”

Me: “Ultimately, the decision is yours, but we care very much about everyone’s safety at [Company], and I just don’t feel it would be a good idea.”

Mother: “Ugh! FINE!” 

She grabs her embarrassed son by the hand and literally drags him out the door. Thinking the problem has been resolved, I go back to helping our many other customers, until my coworker arrives for the start of her shift about twenty minutes later. Keep in mind that it is January and literally freezing outside.

Coworker: “Hey, did you know there is a little boy standing in front of our building?”

Me: “What?! Oh, no!”

Coworker: “Yeah, I just let him borrow my phone, because he wanted to call his mom and ask her why she hasn’t come back yet.”

Me: “Oh, my gosh! Is he okay?”

Coworker: “Yeah, I asked him if he wanted to come wait inside, and he said he wasn’t allowed to! What’s going on? What should I do?”

Me: “You’re not going to believe this.”

I relate the story to her.

Me: “I guess when I told the mom she shouldn’t leave her son inside, she took me literally and left him outside!”

My coworker kept an eye on the boy and made sure he was okay, despite our being short-staffed and not technically allowed to watch other people’s children. His mom finally came back, another thirty MINUTES later! She glared daggers at all of us and continued to shoot us dirty looks all afternoon every time we had to walk past where she was sitting.

Fortunately, the little boy did have a fun time at his friend’s birthday party! I hope things got better for him. Since then we have put up more signs to notify customers that adult supervision is required at all times.

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Closing Early And Opening The Floodgates

, , , , , , | Right | February 22, 2020

(I am a manager of an indoor children’s playland. I have the discretion to close early if we have not had any customers for a length of time. Weekends are always hectic with kids of all ages, but on weekdays we are mostly busy in the mornings with toddlers and often quiet in the afternoon, especially in winter with Daylight Savings. One Tuesday afternoon is particularly quiet. We had everyone pile out fairly quickly by 2:00 — probably for the school run — and we were left empty. I make the call at 4:30 that we’ll close at 5:00 and hang a sign on the door at 4:45 notifying customers. At 5:05, with everything locked up and the sign still on the door, I stand by my car, waiting with my colleague whose mum is late picking him up. Into the car park comes a car that parks next to mine.)

Colleague: “Who’s that?”

Me: “Oh, that’s not your mum, then?”

Colleague: “No.”

(A woman and her two- or three-year-old toddler come up.)

Woman: “Are you closed?”

Me: “Yes, I am terribly sorry but we have closed at 5:00 pm tonight. We will be open again tomorrow from 9:30 am.”

Woman: “But you can’t close early. He wants to play.”

(The kid looks like he doesn’t have a clue where he is and is preoccupied with a balloon.)

Me: “I am terribly sorry for the inconvenience but everything is already locked up and my colleague here is just about to be picked up. I won’t be able to open up again on my own.”

Woman: “I know [Owners] and they will fire you for closing early. They let my son and me play until close all the time.”

(This kid must have been minus-five-years-old when he met them!)

Me: “Again, I am sorry but [Owners] have not been the owners here for seven years, though they were the ones that created the rule to close early and the current owners agree with the logic behind it.”

(At this point, my colleague’s mum arrives but he stays with me, presumably in case there are any issues. Seeing the woman’s commotion, she, too, gets out of the car to see what’s going on.)

Woman: “You’re missing out on business here. You’re going to go out of business.”

Me: “Thank you for your concern, but as I mentioned, I am following protocol and we are now closed, so I will certainly be very happy to see you and your child another day for a play.”

Woman: *now yelling at us* “Tell me one reason why you can’t open. You should be open. I am a paying customer. I am right. You are wrong. [Owners] will fire you. You need to open now. My son is distraught!”

(He isn’t, though he looks upset by his mother shouting.)

Woman: “Why are you closed? Open the d*** playland now. My son is hungry and we want some chips. You’re not logical. You’re a b**** and you just want to go home early! Your manager will hear about this. This is illegal. I want free entry! I want free chips! You’re going to go bankrupt soon!”

Me: “Lady, stop screaming at us in front of your poor kid; you’re scaring him. We are closed. I was originally sorry that we inconvenienced you but I am no longer, as you’re being completely rude. I am the manager; I make the call if we close early and the correct, current owners approve this. I don’t need to explain myself to you, but since you enjoy going around in circles with no comprehension, nor manners, I’ll lay it all out for you. We had an unusually quiet afternoon and it made no logical sense to stay open any longer. Unless several customers came in, it wouldn’t cover the pays, let alone everything else. We are a business. We’re not a charity. The prices are what they are to cover rent, insurance, electricity, water, gas, food, drinks, staff, maintenance, software, play structures, cleaning, advertising, and a much longer list of items that are all behind the scenes to make us what we are today. Now, if you would like to come back on another day, when we are open, and you are polite and considerate, then we would absolutely love to see you and your son again. And if not, then I wish you a good evening, for we are all going home. Should you require any assistance leaving, I might be able to conjure up the security team we also have to pay for, to help you leave.”

(She stood there speechless for a minute before getting back into her car. The next day was my rostered day off so I didn’t have to deal with her expected wrath but, as it happened, she never called.)

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Drunk On The Rules

, , , , | Right | September 26, 2019

(The soft play area I work at recently started serving alcohol — with some VERY strict regulations. We have signs up, but obviously, customers don’t read them. I have just taken a food order from a customer when she asks about cider, which I am allowed to sell because she has ordered an adult-sized meal and is visibly over 25.)

Me: “Have you ordered alcohol here before?”

Customer #1: “No, this is my first time here.”

Me: “All right, so, I’m going to give you this—”

(I hand over a non-slip tray with her cider, a glass, and a plastic sign which our cleaning staff look out for to know there’s alcohol about.)

Me: “And basically, if the alcohol is left unattended at any time, it will be taken away.”

Customer #1: “That seems fair.”

Me: “That’s… the politest anyone’s ever been when I’ve told them that.”

Customer #1: “Really?!”

(Roughly thirty minutes later, I am taking drink orders from a small group of parents.)

Customer #2: “I’d like a hot chocolate, please, and what would you like, dear? That isn’t beer; I don’t think they sell that here.”

Me: “We do, but only with a full adult meal and ID.”

Customer #3: *ignoring me and pointing at the fridge behind me* “Yeah, they do! I’ll have a beer then.”

Me: *more insistently this time* “We only serve alcohol with a full adult meal and ID.”

Customer #3: “Oh, what?! What’s the point of selling it, then?”

Customer #2: “Wouldn’t you like something else, instead?”

Customer #3: “No, I won’t bother.”

(He sulked off muttering to himself and I finished the transaction politely. Sorry, parents! If we’re not allowed to get drunk while we’re looking after your children, you’re not allowed to, either!)


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Unfiltered Story #160944

, , | Unfiltered | August 28, 2019

I used to work in a children’s play center, and people could have their kid’s birthday party there. When people would call to give us the names of the kids on their guest list, I would make them spell out every single name because we make name tags and put the names on the kids’ popcorn bags and juice cups, and there are so many “unique” spelling of names nowadays. One woman called to give her guest list, and this happened:

Customer (after she has just finished spelling out a very common name with a very common spelling): Next is Raven.
Me: Could you spell that for me?
Customer: RAVEN!!
Me: I heard you, could you please spell it for me?
Customer: It’s RAVEN! How hard is that?!
Me: Ok, so that’s R-A-
Customer: No??? RAVEN! R-E-V-Y-N. Just like it sounds!!

I was hoping she just didn’t know how to spell “Raven”, but nope. Sure enough, a couple days later when we hosted her child’s birthday party, there was a child named “Revyn” (pronounced like “Raven”) there.

Jedi: Samurai Of The Galaxy

, , , , , | Friendly | September 27, 2018

(Overheard at a playground…)

Mother: “Are your children wearing traditional Japanese kimonos?”

Japanese Mother: “No, they’re Star Wars costumes.”

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