. . .But I almost did it anyway.
I work in a snack bar in our local Walmart, and from time to time I am blessed by the company of drunks, misfits, and people with egos the size of Texas (but brains the size of a pea). My favorite people have got to be the women who come in, looking ragged and worn down; surrounded in a gaggle of screaming/giggling/squirmy children; wanting only 6 Icees to occupy their kids on their spree through the store.
Today however, I ran into my LEAST favorite type of person. The mother who doesn't care. The woman who has children, but doesn't know what to do with them. The irresponsible human who is in charge of another person's life, and takes it for granted. The slime of the earth who should have a shock collar that will zap them for every time they forget that they were once children, and as a result treat their own children poorly.
I saw this woman come into the snack bar, dragging two kids who looked as if they hadn't had a bath in a week, with their blond hair matted, clothing torn and dirty, and filthy faces and hands. Maybe it wouldn't have been such a big deal if their mother hadn't been dressed so nicely. . . (Walmart gets a lot of people who can't afford to shop anywhere else) but she was, and the result was that her children looked even worse. They were skinny for their ages (maybe six or seven), and they walked with a dejected, tired slump to their frames that I could tell was practiced. I knew right then that it was going to be a bad thing if I took their order. If I see something like that, I can't help but get angry, and from then on I see everything through a red tinted fog of sarcasm and physical pain.
The first words out of her mouth as she approached the counter were, "Shut up, I dont' want to hear about it." (directed at the kids, who weren't saying anything anyway. . . just walking their little-old-man hobble, and looking 50 years older than they should have).
Jessica and I blinked at each other. I waved her towards the counter, shaking my head, already heading towards the depths of being pissed off.
The woman looked at the two kids, and stated, "I know you want something, but we are just here for something to drink." She ordered a soda (for herself), and then rummaged through her purse for change. The little boy looked at me, infinitely anguished. He reached over, and held his sister's hand. He just stood there, and we looked at each other. Him lost in his own world, and me weighing the possibility that I could jump over the counter and save them from the wicked witch before she turned us all into toads, and squashed us under her heels.
I didn't even notice when the woman stopped her search, and fixed her gaze first on her children, and then on me. One hand in her bag, she glared a challenge at me. "Try it. I dare you. Say something that would make me angry. Try to do something about this."
Walmart has dozens of policies that protect the associates from each other, and from the customers. Sexual harrasment, fist fights. . . you name it, there is a policy somewhere on how to deal with it. But there was nothing about this. Nothing on how to save customers from each other. If all else fails, the default policy is that the "customer is always right."
I looked away first.
And the little boy took the punishment for my inability to fight the situation.
The woman, the mother, the slime of the earth, slapped him across the face hard enough to cause his entire body to whip around. The Smack was loud enough that it echoed, falling heavy in the sudden silence.
I looked at the child. He was crying, but he didn't reach up and touch his face. . . he had obviously played this game before. He just gripped a little tighter to his sister's hand, Sighed, and looked at me. He understood.
I was so mad at that woman. I couldn't breathe, let alone see. I couldn't speak, but I was so close to jumping the counter and wailing on her that my body shook. My fists were clenched. Punching customers is bad for business. . .but if she had stood there a second longer than it took for her to find $0.98, grab her children and stomp off, I swear on everything that is holy that I would have taken her out.. . . bad for business or not.