Friday, January 21, 2011

HOW TO: Make me want to pull your hair

I have a pet peeve. Oh, shut up. Okay, I have a LOT of pet peeves. But I swear to you that this one is at the top of the list.

I ate lunch in a casual restaurant today, meaning that the clientele there were mostly business people who'd left their offices to come get a club sandwich and some iced tea, but also a few moms and their babies meeting friends and breaking the cycle of cabin fever that threatens to have us SAHMs getting all Jack Nicholson on our husbands and children. The business people talked quietly to each other, or read the newspaper, or pecked away at their laptops or simply stared off into space, quite obviously lost in bitter contemplation of their lack of inherited wealth.

The mommies sat and talked to one another and allowed their babies to make horrible messes on the floor, which they blithely stepped over on their way out the door and left for the wait staff to clean up. And I'm not talking about a few cracker crumbs: I'm talking about a shredded and gummed-wet placemat and big chunks of baked potato and about a million Cheerios and a discarded baby wipe that had been used to clean Junior's grubby little face. A mess.

I used to have babies and my husband and I used to take them to restaurants. They used to make messes. And if it was anything beyond the gentle dusting of cracker crumbs one could reasonably expect of a high-chaired baby, my husband and I always stooped over with napkins in our hands and picked up the worst of our offspring's litter. I never thought it was okay to just leave a pile of garbage for someone else to pick up, and neither did he. Our kids, our responsibility, right? And besides, what better way is there to model that responsibility than by showing your kid that it is bad manners and leave your nasty mess behind for someone else to clean up?

So this baby at a table near ours created this pile of debris that was very nearly knee deep by the time her mommy tore herself away from her friend and grabbed up her purse and the diaper bag -- which was big enough to hold a Shop-Vac -- and said, "Whoopsie, boopsie! You just made such a mess, kitty cat! Look at all that icky-wicky ucky-yucky stuff on that floor!"

And then she scooped the child out of his high chair and just left, a half-empty container of Gerber baby applesauce spilling its contents onto the tile floor, cracker wrappers and all manner of disgusting crud left right where it was sitting, poking me in the (figurative) eye.

I wanted to follow her and say, with all the wisdom of my middle age, "Look, sister, have you ever heard of that whole 'do unto others' thing? Because if you haven't, I'm already worried at what you're going to be unleashing on the rest of us a few years from now. But if you HAVE heard of that and you STILL left that mess on the floor over there, then shame on you, you nasty thing. Go back over there and take a napkin in your dainty little hand and pick up your kid's crap. Nobody's baby is so cute that you can feel free to leave a disaster area under that table.

"And don't give me that line about how 'these people are paid to clean up messes' because you and I both know that the mess your kid left? It is WAY above and beyond the usual run of messes a member of the wait staff should be expected to clean up, especially during the lunch hour when they're all so busy, and especially since that table won't be habitable by anything but hyenas or billy goats until it's done."

So get yourself back over there, little missy, and clean that crap up and stop feeling like you are just too good to dirty your precious hands in picking up after yourselves and if you leave a restaurant floor looking like that where everyone can see it and judge you, then what in the world must your bathrooms look like at your house? Hmm? So stop being so selfish and rude and MOVE MOVE MOVE MOVE MOVE!!!!"

Phew. I feel better now. Or at least I will until the next time I'm in a restaurant and see some parents walk off and leave a mess under the table.


Whosyergurl said...

Oh Shelley, You are so funny. I so agree. Who do they think they are? People I work with leave messes. I think "who was your mother? Were you raised by wolves?" I always taught my kids to clean up after themselves.

Great post! Great writing!
Hugs, Cheryl

Amy said...

I wish you had said all that...and wish that I'd been there to enjoy it.

Kayte said...

I'm with you...we never ever left a mess and to this day, both boys always tidy their areas when they leave the table at restaurant or home.