The Little Boy Is Gonna Be Bush Tucker

, , , , , , | Right | January 23, 2020

(I work in the restaurant of a wedding venue. The whole place is in secluded, scenic bush-land and backs onto a major river. Given how easily a child could get lost in the area and potentially encounter wildlife or fall into the river if they strayed too far, we don’t allow any child to be unaccompanied on the premises. Most parents are completely compliant with this rule, as it is entirely there to ensure their kid’s safety. Today is an open day for the whole facility; couples can come in and look at the chapel and the various function centres, look around the grounds, and finally, have lunch in the main restaurant to get a sense of the cuisine we offer. We typically get 50 to 100 people on these tours, occasionally with children tagging along. I’m walking into the building to start my shift when a mother and her little boy, maybe two or three years old, calls me over.)

Mother: “Hi! I was just wondering what there is for the little ones to do while we look around?”

Child: “I’m [Child]!”

Me: “Hey, [Child]! Actually, ma’am, we have a pretty strict policy that kids need to stay with their guardians at all times. Our property is very large and we’d hate for anyone to wander off and get lost or hurt.”

Mother: “Well, he can’t come on the tour! He’ll get bored!”

Me: “As I said, ma’am, all children do need to stick with their guardians while on the premises.”

Mother: “Couldn’t you keep an eye on him?”

Me: “Unfortunately, I’m needed in the restaurant. As I said, he’ll need to stay with you.”

Kid: “I’m [Child]!”

Me: “Hey, [Child]!”

Mother: “What the f***?”

Me: “Um. Yes?”

Mother: “You expect me to just tote around my son all afternoon?”

Me: “As his guardian, yes.”

Mother: “That is f****** ridiculous.”

Kid: “That is f****** ridikuse.”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, I didn’t make the policy. And it is for the safety of your child. Bushland and rivers can be hazardous for unaccompanied children.”

Mother: “Are you trying to tell me how to parent?”

Me: “Absolutely not, just letting you know what the rules are. Look, I can see my manager just over there. How about I go ask him to come to have a chat with you?”

Mother: “Fine!”

(I send my manager over and she has a similar yelling match with him while I take the opportunity to duck inside and start my shift. Two hours later, the tour group is down to its last couple of people finishing their meals, and I haven’t seen [Child] or his mum since I came inside. As I’m clearing dishes off the deck I finally see them: a soggy woman dragging a soggy child up the hill from the river. I take a moment to wonder if I can slip away and let someone else deal with her; I can see from here that she is irate. But I’m too curious to see how this happened, so I grab a stack of hand towels and go meet them on the hill to help them dry off a little.)

Mother: “How dare you?!”

Me: “I’m so sorry, what’s happened?”

Kid: “We went swimming!”

Me: “I can see that!”

Mother: “Your manager was completely unhelpful. He just repeated the same bulls*** you gave me. It’s like the two of you were in on it!”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, it’s just the policy here.”

Mother:Right. Well, [Child] came with us at the start but he got bored, just like I said he would.”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that. The tour is probably a little too long for kids.”

Mother: “So, I said he could play on the hill until lunchtime.”

Me: “Oh.”

Mother: And then, when I came back for him, he’d gone down to the river. He could have drowned!

Me: “I’m so glad that you found him in time!”

Mother: “How is it possible that none of your staff saw him go?”

Me: “I’m sorry?”

Mother: “You’re all f****** incompetent! If he’d have drowned, you would have been arrested for murder.”

(At this point, she went completely off the rails, accusing the venue of setting up a death trap for her child, and accusing me of attempted murder. The venue staff tracked down some towels for them, but she would not be calmed down, and shrieked that she would never be back. Which of course, we were all very sad to hear.)

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