The rush of midday in the parking lot had mellowed out into a slow afternoon. I was sitting in my chair, reading, when I heard a little voice to my right say, Excuse me.
I looked over. A boy child about six years old was standing there. I said, Yes? or maybe just looked at him expectantly. He made some word sounds that my ears heard as gibberish.
His mother-type person was walking far to my left. She understood what the boy child said, or thought she did.
What did you just say? the large woman in capri pants and tank top bellowed. Get over here right now!
The boy child was at her side immediately, and I heard him say feebly, It was a joke.
I don’t think it was very funny! she told him.
By the way the woman reacted, I wondered if the cherubic tween had suggested I fuck my grandmother or said something something rude about my appearance.
You just saw some amazing things! the mother-type person told the boy child, then went on to call him something along the lines of ungrateful or unappreciative.
He tried to tell her again that he’d only been joking, but she told him she didn’t want to hear another word our of his mouth.
Whatever he’d said to me sure had made that woman angry.
Ten minutes later, a giant motor home stopped on the roadway leading to the exit. If there had been any traffic, the motor home would have blocked it. I recognized the driver from when he pulled in. I’d told him to park before he paid me because I didn’t know if he’d find a spot for the behemoth he was driving. I couldn’t remember if he’d paid me. Maybe he had stopped there in order to hand over the parking fee.
I walked over to the motor home and asked the driver if I’d collected the parking fee from him. He said I had. Then he said, since you’re here…mutter mutter mutter…He called someone from the back of the RV, and the boy child from earlier came to stand between the driver’s and passenger’s seats.
I could tell the boy child had been crying. His eyes were huge and watery and his face was streaked with tears. He stood very straight and said, I’m sorry for my behavior. (It was obviously a rehearsed speech.)
I said something like I really didn’t even understand what you said, but thank you for apologizing. The whole situation was super awkward for me.
The woman in the passenger seat was not the mother-type person. The woman in the passenger seat seemed like a grandmother-type person. After the boy child had escaped to the back of the motor home, I again expressed bewilderment over not having understood what the boy child had said to me. The grandmother-type person stage whispered We thought it was very rude. He said he didn’t like it.
What? All of that brouhaha because the kid said he didn’t like the trail?
If the kid didn’t like the trail, I think he’s entitled to express that. If I had understood him to say he didn’t like the trail, I probably would have said, Oh, I’m sorry to hear that or What didn’t you like about it? I would not have been personally offended that some kid barely old enough to scrawl his name did not enjoy a trail I did not build and do not maintain.
My job brings me in contact with a variety of rude people of all ages. People hold me responsible for what they see as the (many) failings of the Forest Service. Some people think they can talk to me any old way they want. Finally someone apologizes and it’s for something I din’t even understand, something I wouldn’t have been offended over even if I had understood it.
And, what if, as the boy child told the mother-type person, he was only joking? I hope this incident does not deter him from a career in comedy.