Rude and Concerned Are Not Synonyms

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

For better or worse, there is often a time delay for me when it comes to processing ridiculous and unexpected insults. A good example of this came during our recent family vacation, which included taking the kids to Disney World for a few days. Having gotten up later than we wanted for a scheduled event, we rushed to the park. Just after, I saw an opportunity to buy everyone breakfast while my wife stood in line with the kids for a ride. After my kids (aged seven and five) and I got a place in line, my wife joined us. So I headed out the building to get breakfast. No more than a yard or two from the building, two young adult females with technicolor dreadlocks accosted me, asking me where my children were. Assuming them to be park employees of some kind, I said, "Oh, they're with my wife."

Yeah. That's me around the thirty- and sixty-second marks.
"We're concerned that you're leaving them in line by themselves," one of them said somewhat brusquely. Thinking something was odd, but being in a hurry, I simply left for the coffee shop. Only at some point on the way did I realize that these two were almost certainly busybodies, rather than park employees, and that the answer they really deserved was something like a perfunctory, "That's rude."

I am not a threatening-looking person. My kids are healthy and clean, and were dressed for the occasion. I wasn't yelling at my kids. They weren't crying or screaming. The only reason whatsoever I can come up with for any concern by an onlooker is that they saw me enter with my kids and leave without them -- a sight that anyone with a grain of sense would realize is not some rare phenomenon at an amusement park. I am sure plenty of other parents hand off their kids to the other parent, or even their older siblings, other relatives, or friends.

A clean-cut, ordinary-looking man taking his kids to a line and leaving a few minutes later signals abandonment ... exactly how? And did this duo -- whose demeanor would give me pause about trusting my kids with them, to say the least -- spend any time enjoying the park? Did they worry themselves sick by appointing themselves guardians of every child in sight? Do they enjoy provoking parents? I don't know or care. But their assumption that I would skip out on my own young children in a crowded amusement park was either clueless enough or rude enough to merit an etiquette citation rather than an answer.

-- CAV


Vigilis said...

Gus, you may have avoided a tragedy. From your own father's career I am certain you realize situations are not what they appear if criminal elements are on scene as innocent bystandaers. Are any criminal elements on scene in crowded venues?

You said,"Oh, they're with my wife". Had you not, and had the two bystanders been ill-intenioned, you may have been followed surreptitously for a "child grab" opportunity. Just saying...

Gus Van Horn said...


Perhaps it's possible these two were ill-intentioned, although such kidnappings are "very rare. But suppose they were. My answer didn't matter so much as the fact that I'm not leaving my kids unattended in the first place. (My motivations for this aren't fear of abduction: It's the realization that they're too young yet to trust to behave themselves for very long while I'm gone.