See You Later, Alligator

, , , , , , | Friendly | December 21, 2018

(I’m walking down International Drive when I pass a gator exhibit with a man holding a small alligator, offering it to tourists.)

Man: “Would you like to pet an alligator?”

Me: “Yes!”

(I’ve held an alligator before; however, this time I hesitate as I reach out towards it. When I do, the man thrusts the alligator towards my face, in a way that is sudden and intrusive yet does not disturb the alligator.)

Man: “Yah!”

Me: “Ack!”

(I’m very easy to startle, and I cry out and jump back. The man laughs.)

Man: “Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.”

Me: “You saw weakness and you zeroed in on it. I should have seen it coming.”

(I then proceeded to pet the alligator to my heart’s content.)

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Toying With The Idea Of Saving This Child

, , , , , | Friendly | December 20, 2018

I had just finished shopping at a large mall and decided to treat myself by stopping at the food court for some food that wasn’t good for me at all. It was the beginning of the holiday season so the food court was busy but not packed. I got my food, sat at one of the tables, and enjoyed some people watching while I ate.

I noticed a mom sitting at a table with four kids: what looked like twin one-year-olds in a stroller, a four-year-old that looked like he was going to bolt at the first chance he got, and an eight-year-old girl. The mother had gotten her children’s meals from a popular fast food restaurant and was trying to keep the four-year-old focused on his food and feed the twins baby food from a jar. All I could think was, “You brave woman.”

Now, the eight-year-old appeared upset. She apparently got a boy’s toy in her meal. I sympathized; I always hated that when I was small. The mother, who had her hands full, told the girl she could go exchange the toy since they were sitting right in front of the restaurant.

The eight-year-old went up to the counter but was ignored by the cashier. Then customers started pushing in front of her and talking over her. She looked to her mom for help and I could see the mom trying to wrangle the other children so she could go help.

I am a very shy adult and I was an even shyer child. But I couldn’t watch this without doing something. I marched up to the girl and asked her if she wanted a girl’s toy. She nodded yes, doing her best not to cry. Now, I may be shy, but I’m a large woman with a voice that carries when I choose to use it. I marched up to the counter with the little girl and let loose.

“EXCUSE ME! THIS CHILD WOULD LIKE THE GIRL’S TOY, PLEASE!

Everyone stopped, and a startled cashier quickly handed the toy in exchange. I then walked the girl back to her table. The mom thanked me and the little girl gave me a hug. But the best part was when the little boy looked at me and said, “You have a superhero voice!”

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Phoning In The Parenting

, , , , , | Friendly | December 19, 2018

(My wife has always been pretty direct, but pregnancy seems to have amplified it. We’re standing outside the local pub one day chatting to some friends when a kid, between seven and nine years old I think, cycles past. We see this kid all the time and he always has one hand on the handlebars and with the other is holding and staring at his phone. He also doesn’t wear a helmet. On this occasion, my wife reaches out as he cycles past and nabs the phone out of his hand.)

Kid: “Hey!”

Wife: “If I see you cycling with this d*** thing in your hand and not looking at the road one more time it is going straight in the river.”

(The kid goes from startled to angry, but my beloved is too quick for him.)

Wife: “Just what the h*** are you thinking? You could hit someone. You could end up under a d*** car. You think your parents want to spend Christmas sat around your hospital bed, you idiot?”

(At this the kid seems to crumple a little. My wife holds out the phone to him.)

Wife: “Now switch it off. Put it in your pocket. Go home and ask Santa for a d*** helmet.”

(The kid takes the phone back and, very sensibly, does as my wife says. We figure that’s the end of it and go back to chatting to our friends. About ten minutes later a woman marches up to us and smacks my wife’s glass of lemonade out of her hand.)

Woman: “How dare you?! My son has just come home in floods of tears saying you yelled at him and scared him! You told him he was going to die! And now I see you drinking, probably trying to harm another precious baby! What kind of woman are you?”

Wife: “Lady, I told your son that if he didn’t stop looking at his d*** phone while cycling then, yes, he might end up dead or seriously injure someone else. Lady, I’m the kind of woman who drinks lemonade while she’s pregnant because, unlike you, I have some concern for my kids!”

Woman: “It’s no business of yours what my son was doing!”

Wife: “Not looking at the road and causing danger to the public? It is absolutely my business. And before you say one more thing, your son seems to be a h*** of a lot smarter than you and he got this pretty quick. How would you like to spend Christmas around your son’s hospital bed? Or in a lawyer’s office after whoever he hits sues for damages?”

(The woman has gone flame red and storms off. My wife turns to me.)

Wife: “Was I a little harsh?”

(I told her that I didn’t think so and that she’d said the right thing. A couple of days later the same kid saw my wife in the village and told her that he’d only been crying because he’d realised how dangerously he had been behaving and apologised for his mother. He even told my wife that she’ll be a great mum, and I agree.)

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Taking “Dog-Friendly” A Step Too Far

, , , , | Friendly | December 15, 2018

(My husband and I go to a local downtown festival with another couple we’re friends with. The festival is dog-friendly, so our friends bring their golden retriever and we bring our Rottweiler. Everyone has a good time, and most of the people are polite and actually ask us if they can pet our dogs as we’re walking around. Later on, we’re having dinner on a cafe patio that is also dog-friendly. Both dogs are pretty tired at this point, and after a drink of water and a couple treats they’re both happily laying down under our table while the four of us eat. People continue to walk by, occasionally commenting on the dogs but leaving them alone. All of a sudden, I hear a high-pitched squeal from directly behind me.)

Strange Woman: “Oh, my God! Look at them! “

(A woman who appears to be around 30 years old LUNGES around my chair from behind and tries to reach under the table where the dogs are.)

Strange Woman: “They are so cute! SO cute! I want to pet them!”

(We are all so shocked that it takes a few seconds for one of us to speak up. I will also point out that she does not seem intoxicated or anything, just ridiculously excited and invasive.)

My Husband: “Ma’am, please back up. We’re eating dinner and the dogs are resting, as you can see. They’ve had a long day.”

Strange Woman: “Aww!” *sticks her lip out in an exaggerated pout, like a toddler* “Please?”

Friend’s Husband: *sigh* “Look. You can pet ours for a minute, but then we’d like to finish eating.”

(He calls their retriever out from under the table and she sits while the woman pets her. I’m trying to shield our Rottie with my legs. He’s a friendly dog, but he also has no problem letting people know when he’s had enough attention and I don’t even want to deal with it. But, of course, as soon as she finishes petting the retriever, she turns her sights on our dog.)

Strange Woman: “And now I want to pet you!

Me: *keeping my legs in front of him* “No, thank you. He. Is. Tired. He doesn’t want attention right now.”

Strange Woman: “Oh, of course, he does!”

(She reaches her hands out, and as soon she gets near my legs our Rottie raises his head and, without growling, shows her his teeth.)

My Husband: “Okay, that’s it. Please leave us alone now.”

Strange Woman: *clapping her hands like she thinks she’s going to coax him out from under the table* “He’s not mad! That’s a submissive grin!”

Me: “Excuse me?!”

My Husband: *stands up* “Back off, now!”

Strange Woman: “Well, fine, then! But I’m telling you, it’s a submissive grin!”

(She huffs and walks away. Only then do we realize that a guy who’s been standing five feet away on the sidewalk is with her and has just stood there watching her the whole time! She grabs his arm and continues ranting about “submissive grins” until we can’t hear her anymore. I’m able to calm our Rottie down and we start eating again.)

Friend: “A submissive grin? Where the f*** did she get that?”

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The Daughter of Count Olaf And The Grinch

, , , , | Friendly | December 14, 2018

(My twins got into Kindergarten this summer, and they have a support club of parents raising extra money for the place. This ranges from selling cakes to encouraging sponsors to give something for certain events. Around Christmas, the town has stands reserved at the Christmas market that get used by all the different places and organisations who want to sell stuff to make money. The parents are encouraged to make cookies, jam, decorations, and such stuff to sell, and they need people to man the stand in two-hour shifts over the day. I am an avid baker, so I make a batch of very tasty gingerbread cakes and package them to sell, and volunteer for the six- to eight-pm shift. I encourage the Club to use a pay-what-you-want system this year, so instead of, say 50 cents for a little bag of homemade cookies, people are encouraged to just give a donation as they see fit. People love that, it seems, and when I get there, the stand is rather bare already. We still keep selling stuff. I go around to the nearby mulled wine sellers and offer cookies to people and tell them to come over and get some. After that, I am in the hut selling stuff, and so many people are like, “For the Kindergarten? Of course! Have 5€ for them!” and only take a couple of bags of cookies. But, of course, some people are just impossible. There is an older woman hovering over the free-sample dish we have. Her clothes are rather fancy, so she’s not likely a poor person by the look of her jewellery alone.)

Me: “Please, help yourself! These are made by the parents of [Kindergarten].”

Lady: “Oh, thanks! Don’t mind if I do!”

(She takes a cookie, exclaims it’s delicious, and takes another.)

Me: “I’m glad you like them! You are welcome to take a bag or two home if you want! Just give a little donation and the kiddies will thank you, as well.”

Lady: “No, absolutely not! I have no money at all.”

Me: “Well, you can give what you want, so you could just take a bag and give some small change. Like, 10 cents would be fine. Every little bit helps.”

Lady: “No, that is impossible; I have no money.”

(She takes two more sample cookies and eats them.)

Me: “Well, if you are that poor, here!”

(I give her a bag of some stuff; we have lots left over and will not sell out, anyway.)

Lady: “What? Is this free?”

Me: “Yes. Consider it a Christmas gift from the kids at [Kindergarten]. Nobody should be so completely out of money they can’t have cookies at Christmas.”

(She thanks me profoundly and goes off. The other people buying stuff make good for her at least thrice, exclaiming how nice that was and grumbling about cheap people. About 20 minutes later, I see a lady hovering over the sample dish again. I invite her to help herself, then spot the earrings again. She has taken off her hat and scarf, but I recognise it’s the lady from before.)

Lady: “Oh, can I take one for free?”

Me: “Yeah, sure. Take a free sample.”

Lady: “Can I get one of the bags, please? They are free, as well, right?”

Me: “No, the bags are not free. But you can donate whatever you see fit.”

Lady: “Oh, but I have no money at all. Can’t you give me one for free?”

Me: “I’m sorry, no. We want to raise money for the kids at [Kindergarten]. And still, if you have 10 cents it would be enough if you think it’s enough to give to the children.”

Lady: “But you gave away the bags earlier; I saw it! Why won’t you give me one?”

Me: “Because I know you are the only person I’ve given one to all evening, and nobody else so cheap came here after you. Please enjoy the free cookies you got earlier, but if you want more, please donate at least something.”

(She then slunk off and that was the end of it. The vast majority of the people were great, but there are some that will never get into the spirit of giving, only taking.)

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