Thinking Outside The Box By Leaving Them Outside

, , , , , , | Right | July 1, 2019

(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 on the form they sign that children under 13 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 there 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!”

Me: *thinking she finally came to her senses*

Mother: “He doesn’t need watching!”

Me: *shocked, and wondering how I can make this more obvious without offending her* “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 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 hadn’t come back yet.”

Me: “Oh, my gosh! Is he okay?”

Coworker: “Yeah, I asked him if he wanted to come and 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.” *relates the story to her* “So, 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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