Raising a child with the aim of her one day being someone that others will not shun is hard enough without the steady stream of adults in the world who behave in ways that would elicit cold, disapproving stares were it a child doing so. I read a lot and in the course of my reading, I’ve stumbled upon a plethora of anti-child rhetoric which would lead a person to believe that children should never be seen in public before they are school age and afterwards only as necessary until they are old enough to be put to work in the service sector.
The legions who believe that children are nuisances who should be barred from public eateries, air travel and shopping centers are quite vocal in their disdain and in their condemnation of the poor parenting skills of others.
What I don’t read a lot about is how the bad behavior of adults makes the world a difficult place for parents to raise decent children who don’t have a sense of entitlement and the manners of those raised by persons of questionable character and residence.
At the post office today, Dee and I were in line between two elderly women about the same age as my mother, who is in her late 70’s. Both were waiting on a frazzled counter person trying to juggle multiple customers while a horde of her co-workers ambled back and forth stage left with seemingly little to do but no interest in helping her deal with the increasing queue.
The first lady was there to pick up a registered letter and the contents of a post-office box only to discover she wasn’t on the list of those allowed to pick up mail from the box nor would she be allowed to sign for the letter because she didn’t have her i.d. on her.
“I’ve been picking up the mail here for 35 years,” she informed the postal worker with a tone that implied she should simply be catered to for longevity’s sake.
“Ma’am, these are the rules. They’ve been in place for over a year now, and I need you to take this form home to get it authorized by the box holder (her husband) and you’ll have to go get your i.d.”
And then followed the tantrum as more people lined up behind Dee and I, and my daughter watched this grandmother-type pitch a fit worthy of any two year old.
She stepped back to allow her friend behind her to mail a letter and then launched at the postal worker again before storming out and muttering loudly in the best imitation of a 16 year old girl I have ever seen.
“Now I’ll have to wait another half-hour in line,” she said to no one and everyone.
Of course, she didn’t wait in line. She waddled like a disgruntled duck out to her car while the woman behind the desk tried to attend to the two gentlemen she was helping previously, and when she came back she cut the entire line with her i.d. in hand.
By now the postal worker clearly wanted this old woman gone, so she said nothing about the queue jumping – which is insanely bad form – and gave in to the woman’s demands that she be exempt from the rules because “I’ve been coming here for 35 years.”
I didn’t say anything. I have dealt with women like her often enough to know that they cannot be reasoned with nor can they be shamed into behaving decently. The line behind me was made up entirely of middle-aged men who were trying hard to pretend that they were not being held up by an aging pageant queen with entitlement issues.
Naturally, the instant she got her way she began purring like a kitten and was “please” and “thank-you” polite. When she turned and faced me for a moment, she smiled a bit and I averted my eyes.
Afterwards I seized the teachable moment to point out the woman’s bad behavior and choices to Dee who was perplexed by the line cutting more than anything. Jumping queue is a supreme “don’t” among the elementary school crowd and one of the first rules they grasp and self-enforce.
I am tired of hearing about rampant hordes of unruly children when it is mainly adults I see in the public arena who shouldn’t be allowed out without supervision.