Wednesday, October 25, 2006

"100" ...One From The Kilroy File

One From The Kilroy File:

...I was at McDonald's one day.

It was mid-afternoon during the workweek; normally a quiet time when you never have to wait long in line. Suddenly, the restaurant - a term I use loosely - was swarmed by junior high schoolers returning from a fieldtrip. In a moment the place was abuzz. By the time I stepped up to the counter, in the midst of the chattering mass, I had difficulty focusing. Finally, I ordered one of the mealdeals. Normally, I prefer to special order at McDonald's because the food made fresh is better. {Considering how good it's possible for McDonald's food to be}

While I was eating, watching the kids {thinking back over what seemed like lifetimes since I was in their shoes} I noticed one boy that stood out. He was sitting next to the front window, alone at a table, eating a homepacked lunch. When I finished, I made my way back to the counter and found the two chaperones.

I asked about the boy and they told me that he said he forgot to bring money. So, they scrounged around, found some food and packed a lunch for him. My first thought was basically, Why didn't you crowbar your fucking wallet open and give him a few bucks? Then they told me that he comes from a problem home; they probably don't have money to give him. Again, I'm wondering whether George Washington is wearing sunglasses in this guy's wallet because he so infrequently sees the sun.

I asked the chaperones if they would take some money and give it to the boy. I took $10 out and tried to give it to them. They said I could give it to him. I told them I didn't want to do that; it would be more discreet if they gave him the money. No, if I wanted to give him the money I had to do it. They said the boy should see the person who wanted to help him. By this time, I was disgusted. It took everything I had to not tell these jackasses exactly what I thought of them. I said, fine; I'll give it to him.

As we made our way through the rows of tables I switched the bill from a 10 to a 20. I folded it so the amount did not show. We walked over and the jackass said something like, This man has something he wants to say to you. I said something about wanting him to enjoy the fieldtrip and that it might be nice for him to have some McDonald's. Eloquent I'm sure it wasn't. I held out the money to him. The poor kid was looking at me clearly not knowing what the hell to think; and I'm sure not feeling anything in the world that resembled comfort. I was so pissed off at the chaperones. The jackass told him it was ok; go ahead and take the money. He hesitantly reached out and took the bill from my hand. Now, the jackass had to chime in. What do you say? he asked. The boy, in not much more than a whisper, said Thank you. I told him to enjoy the day or some such thing...as he slipped the money into his pocket.

I walked with the jackass back to the door. Before I left, I couldn't help but tell him what a prick I thought he was. He made the boy stand out more than he did with his sacklunch having some stranger handing him money. I offered a few other choice thoughts and left the jackass standing with his mouth hanging open.

I am hopeful that what I wanted to be a Random Act of Kindness didn't make things worse for the boy in any way. It is something that continues to bother me now years later. I understand that they helped the boy by giving him food to eat. The way they handled that, though, in my mind was not good. The way they handled taking a contribution for the kid was shameful, I think.

23 comments:

red-dirt-girl said...
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RomanceWriter said...

At least you did what you could. I would have wanted to help but did nothing. And years later I might still regret that. It seems like you couldn't win for losing in that sitution.

Sara

The SUCCESS Coach said...

You found some good material for #100. When you say it's from the file, have you published this somewhere previously?

red-dirt-girl said...
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Miss Kitty said...

Wow. I'm glad you had the guts to say something to the jackasses, and to give the boy a little cash. I'm right along with Red Dirt Girl...perhaps hearts have been thawed due to your kindness/chewing out of jackasses. Maybe the kid will know someone really does care about him.

steve said...

The prick did make things clumsy, no? HOORAY for you though... it wasn't long ago that i found myself in the position of trying to scrounge gas enough to get from one jobsite to another and then back home when a stranger did what EXXON coulnd't to the tune of about 10 times what I was asking for. I'll never forget it and I'm sure your friend thinks of you kindly still....no matter how clumsy the prick made you feel.

BlueDuck said...

I went to a private high school (had a partial scholarship and paid for the rest myself through work $$$) and I can vouch that schools like that always treat the poor kids like shit... as if almost to punish them for their economic status.

For instance, my school used to have an annual walkathon. But to participate, you had to "raise" at least a hundred dollars or so. Of course, most kids just had mom or dad write them a check, problem solved. But for the poorer kids who couldn't, they couldn't participate and had to spend the walkathon day inside the school in forced study hall. It is pretty demeaning.

With that said, you did a nice thing. Sadly, such random acts of kindness are so rare, the kid probably assumed you wanted something. No one believes anymore people are just nice for the sake of it.

Annelisa said...

Jeez! What unfeeling, em (should I say this word?) bastards! Could they not have dropped it on the floor by his feet, and made his day? Or could they not have slipped it in his pocket, or perhaps simply given it to him and said it was a 'present'. I don't know. Anything but humiliate the poor little fellow, making him eat more humble pie than he deserves (isn't it enough he had problems at home - couldn't they have lifted them when away?)

Ok, now my rant is over. Maybe there were other circumstances not mentioned (maybe he kept nicking their wallets, or something! :-D)

But Blueduck is right - poor kids have to pay twice over: Once for coming from such backgrounds, and again because some everyone-else-is-sorry-they-were-born, power-mad pig-headed idiots like to get that one-over feeling on the little people. Last thing they need. But, I have to believe in Karma, and that these people eventually have someone (perhaps you) come up and tell them what self-important, up-their-asses twats they are. Didn't anyone ever teach them sympathy and empathy?

Anonymous said...

That's why grown ups for the most part are jerks! My gosh! I would have wanted to slap them myself! I actually want to slap them right now. Kids always suffer because of stupid adults.

I love that you told them off. I love even more your act of kindness. It amazes me how stingy people are. You did a wonderful thing and yet I understand how you just wanted the kid to have a moment of hapiness and enjoy the day with out feeling left out. More people should do that.

~M

Mother of Invention said...

Well, that was a very difficult and delicate situation to handle gently...a no-win. You had the best intentions and were coming from a warm and fuzzy place to be sure...but either way, the kid would be centred out and feel like a charity case. Bottom line is that it should never have even reached the McDonalds stage. Perhaps the teachers hands felt tied in that it couldn't really be seen in plain view of all the kids to come from them. You have to learn a great deal of diplomacy in teaching because you are accountable to kids, parents, colleagues, admin, and the public. Sometimes it can be excedingly difficult and other times, downright impossible. Perhaps they weren't hardcore jackasses in the traditional sense. (But I didn't see or hear their tone...I just didn't want to assume and generalize)

All that being said, the teachers should have known and anticipated that he'd have no $ and helped him out from the school fund for such things. I am a teacher, and I don't think teachers should always pay, especially when there are a lot of poor kids. It gets too expensive, and if you do it all the time, some of the kids (and parents) "learn" to take advantage and come to expect it.

We have a system where the school fund will always pay for a field trip if the parents can't pay, and I guess that include the lunch since that was part of the deal.

The school's at fault here for not having such a thing set up, the teachers at fault for not anticipating this problem and taking care of it beforehand.

I have paid for my share of hot dogs, pizza, popcorn, birthday cupcakes, Hallowe'en treats, Candy Canes and books for each child for Xmas, Easter eggs, last day of school sundaes....out of my own pocketbook over the 27 years I have taught, not to mention thousands of stickers, incentive erasers and pencils, and special art supplies. It is just something you do and I'd do it again.

You would have made a kind thoughtful teacher, much like he one I think I have tried to be.

RomanceWriter said...

Just stopping in to say hi. Hope you have a nice weekend.

Sara

Anonymous said...

Hunter would be proud of you. Making a contest out of something mundane.

I still think the asshole could have said goodbye to his family beforehand!!
Peace

Anonymous said...

I thought I commented on this. The newage child psychology irks the hell out of me sometimes too. A person's desire to remain anonymous should be respected.

Kilroy_60 said...

No, Success Coach, I never published this before. I'm actually not sure if I ever spoke to anyone about it.

I am hopeful the thoughts that the boy benefitted are correct; not that it was any big thing I did.

You have taken what you were given by someone who cared and done for others, haven't you Steve? That's what makes the world go 'round, I think.

I agree, Old Lady, that the desire to be anonymous should be respected. What I couldn't do, though, was to walk away when the jackass refused. I didn't take any feeling of satisfaction about telling him what I thought, and don't have any sense of pride now about having done it, but I think if I'd said nothing my head would have exploded.

I understand your points Mother of Invention. I agree the school should have been prepared to deal with such a situation. And it was nice that they put a lunch together for the boy. I have tried to put myself in the shoes of the teachers. I see where people could abuse it if there was common knowledge the teachers would buy. It seems to me, though, that it must be looked at as an individual case. They could have helped him without making him stand out like a sore thumb.

honkeie2 said...

OMFG I dont think Iwould have been able to contain myself with keeping my thoughts in. I would have asked asshole to stay where he was while I went and spoke with the boy, I am sure I didnt need a spokes person. I agree with u on the helping the kid out, I have done my fair share of chaperon gigs and have helped a few kids out....even though they were not mine. Its ppl like that, that make wish spupidity was painful. And its ppl will u that restore my faith in humanity.
Sorry for stopping by so late, I work 16 hours last night and was in no shape to even hop on AO-Hell last night.
Keep up the good fight....

GrizzBabe said...

You are to be commended, although I am sure recognition was not the motivation for your efforts. Despite it not going down the way that you wanted, you did a good thing.

The Wandering Author said...

I commented on this post a couple of days ago, but Blogger gave me an "Internal Server Error" and gulped it down whole.

I've seen my share of clueless teachers, and even a few who got thrills from making their students squirm. I wasn't there, so I can't say exactly which category these twerps fell into, but thank you for telling them off.

And I'm sure the boy understood you were trying to help him. People who are often targets quickly develop "radar" that tells them when someone is needling them, and when they're sincere.

On behalf of that kid, who I understand a whole lot better than I wish I did, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Coming from an adult that used to be that kid.
I will tell you, he was happy to get the money. And regarding standing out because of his situation. You get used to it. Its a different world for those kids, but because of all the teachers and other adults in my life who bought me shoes or school clothes gave me some of their lunch or a little extra attention, I think I turned out a positive person who contributes to society rather than takes.

Your action of generousity to a child is never without a positive reaction.
shanti marie

Anonymous said...

Reading this warmed my heart. The kind of predicament u faced was partly because of your own temperament. I know thousands of those so called philanthropes who wuld have enjoyed playing God Almighty to the poor thing and pounced on the opportunity of making themselves shown at this great act of humanity.

Love, compassion,sympathy etc...all dat's easy to pretend, but respecting fellow mates doesnt come easy in this world, for that cant b pretended.

U r rare...Glad to know dat ppl like u exist...

Jay Cam said...

i think you did the right thing. i know i would have done the same if i was in your place. the chaperones seemed to be idiots. i mean, it only costs a couple bucks to buy ONE child McDonalds food! but still, i guess they couldn't have been too bad, as they tried to do something for the poor kid. ugh..you did the right thing and you should be proud.

mental mosaic said...

No matter how receiving that 20 from you impacted the rest of that particular day, I am sure that your kindness has stood out and impacted the rest of his life.

How ridiculous those chaperones were!

Lynn said...

That was very kind and generous of you and I totally agree the chaperones handled it horribly. Being in your or the kids position I would have felt uncomfortable too. I'm glad you said a few choice words to them, because I know I would have.

Sue said...

What a fabulous heart warming lovely gesture. Most people walk around unconscious of their surroundings. The mere fact that you noticed this situation to begin with is what I yearn for in the human race. To be more conscious. People with low or no social or emotional intelligence respond in the way your "jackass" did. Walking through life unconsciously produces "jackasses". A creative way to handle this which might be considered in the future, but hard to do when you are so very angry at the "jackasses" is to hand the money to the boy and tell him he won a contest and the prize is $20.00 for wearing ______ whatever color shirt or shoes he had on. This creates a winning attitude in the boy instead of the one the "jackass" created. This winning of a contest is empowerment. When the "jackass" told the kid to say thank you, you might have said no thank's you win fair and square. Just my two cents. It was a lovely gesture.