Tag Archives: children

Thank You


Kids loved the hiking sticks we sold at the Mercantile. They loved to take the sticks out of the display rack, and they loved to thump them on the wooden floor as they walked through the store.

Sometimes a kid would convince a parent to buy a hiking stick, but usually not. The sticks were pricey–$18 to $25–and most parents realized their kid didn’t hike often enough to make the stick a practical purchase. Most often, a kid had to leave the beloved hiking stick behind.

One day a family came into the store. In addition to Mom and Dad, there were two children who seemed to be boys. The older child was on the brink of being a teenager, while the younger kid was probably nine. Each member of the family was dressed in earth tones and sported at least one piece of camo clothing.

The two children were immediately drawn to the hiking sticks. They both walked right over to the display and began to take one stick after another from the rack as they talked about how cool the sticks were. As soon as the mother saw the price of the first stick, she said no. The woman had no intention of buying even one hiking stick and told the boys to put the sticks back where they belonged.

The older kid complied with his mother’s orders and returned the stick to its place in the rack. The younger boy took his stick of choice with him as he began walking through the store.

He didn’t just carry the stick. Oh no. He was a thumper! With each step he took, he brought the end of the stick down hard onto the wooden floor. Thump! Thump! Thump! reverberated through the Mercantile. His parents didn’t do anything to discourage this behavior.

I took a deep breath and let it out. This kid was getting on my last nerve, but I didn’t really think it was my place to correct him. His parents were standing right there. I though it was their job to reprimand him, not mine.

Then the kid started swinging the stick.

Swinging hiking sticks was another popular activity among young visitors to the the Mercantile. I don’t know where they got the idea that hiking sticks were for swinging. Maybe somebody in the Harry Potter movies fights with a staff or maybe they’re emulating Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings. I don’t know why, but over the course of two summers, I saw many children swinging hiking sticks as tall or taller than they were.

When the boy began swinging the hiking stick I knew his parents had no intention of buying, it was more than I could take. I walked up to the kid, put my hands on the hiking stick, and firmly took it from him while saying what he was doing was improper use of the stick.

Breakable bear figurines sit on a shelves, a shaft of sunlight illuminating them.
Some of the fragile knick-knacks for sale in the Mercantile

Let’s put this away before something gets broken, I said. My concern was valid. There were many fragile knick-knacks in the Mercantile that could have been destroyed with one unfortunate swing of that stick.

When I put my hands on the hiking stick, the boy immediately let go. He didn’t protest or whine. I think it’s a pretty good indication that people know they’re doing wrong when they don’t even protest when confronted.

As I walked past the mother on my way to put away the hiking stick, she murmured Thank you. She sounded exhausted

I gave her a nod and a grim smile. I was glad she was glad for my help and not mad at my interference, but I felt like I was doing her job instead of my own. I thought it was her job to demand her kid follow through after telling him to return the stick to the display rack. I thought it was her job to tell her kid to stop thumping the stick on the floor. I thought it was her job to tell her kid the stick was not meant for swinging, especially in a small, enclosed space housing breakable items. Apparently she thought her job was to browse while her nine-year-old kid did whatever he wanted to do.

Of course, the father figure hadn’t said anything either. It was his job to correct the kid too, so I don’t think only the mother was at fault.

As was so often the theme in my interactions with tourists on that mountain, when they left, I was glad to see them go.

I took the photo in this post.

Get a Job


Children in the parking lot love to sit in my chair.

If it were only kids coming off the trail who wanted to sit in my chair, I’d speculate they were tired and/or their legs hurt. However, kids who are just getting out of cars also want to plop their butts in my chair. Is the novelty of a seat they’ve never sat in more than they can resist? Are kids these days simply so lazy they can’t stand for five minutes?

If there is a crowd at the front of the parking lot and I have to be a few steps from my chair, I’ve learned to keep an eye on it. If I look away from it for too long, I’m bound to find some child relaxing in it when I look back.

One Saturday morning, an extended family arrived in the parking lot in six vehicles. When everyone finally tumbled out of the minivans and SUVs, there must have been twenty little kids milling about. Haven’t these people heard of birth control? I muttered to my co-worker. I had to stand for some reason, them step away from my chair. Sure enough, when I looked back, some tween was relaxing in my seat.

I walked up to the kid and said, Excuse me. That’s not your chair.

The kid looked at me like What? Isn’t every chair my chair? (I hate people with a sense of entitlement, especially when those people are too young to be entitled to much.) But he moved his ass.

I went on with whatever I had been doing. When I glanced back, a different kid from the same family was in my chair!

I walked over and said (loudly), Excuse me! That’s not your chair!

Again, the child moved, but didn’t exhibit one bit of embarrassment or remorse. Apparently, every empty chair is for a kid to sit in.

In no instance when a child has plopped down in my chair has an adult responsible for the kid said, What are you doing? or Don’t sit in the lady’s chair. or That chair doesn’t belong to you. or We don’t sit in chairs that don’t belong to us. Nothing. I’m convinced the majority of parents and adult guardians will allow the children in their care to do anything if it garners them a moment’s peace.

One morning as I walked across the roadway to pick up a piece of trash, a young woman approached my co-worker to pay her parking fee. A little boy (about eight years old) was with her. The kid was running around, and the young woman (his mother? his sister? his babysitter?) was paying absolutely no attention to him.

I saw the kid eyeing my chair, so I hustled over and sat my butt down in it.

As I sat, I heard the boy say, something, something, chair!

This is my chair, I said,

The boy said, I would like to have a chair like that.

You better get a job, I told him. (Oh, how my co-worker burst out laughing when I recounted this part of the story.)

The kid physically recoiled from me. Who could blame him? I don’t want a job either. But to get a nice chair like mine, he’s going to need money, and to get money, he’s going to need a job. (Of course, I got my chair from a free pile, but I wasn’t going to give the kid that information and get his hopes up. To read about the free pile where I got my chair, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/01/25/the-free-pile-at-the-rtr/.)

I took this photo of the chair kids love to sit in.

I took this photo of the chair kids love to sit in.



Sometimes a whole family is a mess.

It was the first Saturday in August, and the parking lot was a bit slower than it had been throughout July. Sure, the lot was crowded, and we were busy, but the sense of chaos wasn’t quite so intense.

My interaction with the family started with the grandmother, who wanted to park with the other two vehicles in her party. She tried to park beside some trees (instead of nose-in, between trees, like most people park), but that didn’t quite work out, even with a young man standing behind her car, waving his arms and giving directions. Grandma gave up on this potential parking place rather quickly and drove off deeper into the parking lot to find an easier spot.

My next interaction with the family came when Dad (the young man who’d tried to direct Grandma in parking) approached me and asked about the location of the water slides. I pulled out a map, pointed to we are here, then pointed to the waterslides are there. The man exhibited no glimmer or recognition. Nothing. The lights were on, and yet, nobody seemed to be home.

Can we get there from here? Dad asked me.

Why yes! I wanted to say. This is a map. What a map does is show how to get there from here. Instead I pointed out the two roads he could take.

Dad walked away, skeptical, until his brother-in-law said he had directions.

Then Grandma joined the rest of the family in my vicinity.

I left my purse in the tent, she announced. I have to go back. I’m worried. I left my purse in the tent.

Her daughter thought she had left her purse in the car, until Grandma made her understand by saying, I left my purse in the tent at the campground.

Something in the word campground made the daughter’s brain click that tent and car are two different places, and the old lady’s purse was not a short walk away.

Grandma was insistent that she had to go back to the campground because she was worried about her purse in the tent. Her daughter said they were going to walk the trail before they went back to the campground, which didn’t seem to be nearby.

By this point, most of the members of the extended family that had arrived in three vehicles were clustered near where my co-worker and I stand at the front of the parking lot. Grandma was joined by her two daughters and at least ten children ranging in age from 3 to 14. I don’t know why they were all standing there—probably waiting for folks to return from the restroom, get water out of the cooler, or otherwise get their shit together.

The two smallest children were milling about fully in the parking lot’s roadway.

You probably want to get out of the street, folks, I said to the crowd. People drive into this parking lot fast sometimes. (Which is true.)

The first small child moved closer to the other children, but the littlest girl remained where she was.

Lyla, come here, one of the adult sisters said to the girl standing in the roadway.

Lyla turned her head away from the woman and ignored her command.

Lyla, come here now, the woman said again sternly.

Lyla had apparently lost the ability to hear, for she took no heed of the woman’s words and didn’t move a muscle.

Dee-lye-la! the woman shouted. Get over here NOW! This is a street!

A miracle! Lyla could hear again. She languidly turned her head toward the woman with a look of Oh? Are you talking to me? on her tiny face. Then she slowly left the middle of the roadway and joined the clot of kinfolk.

About that time, I looked to my left and over my shoulder and saw Junior, approximately age nine, sprawled in the middle of the roadway, messing around with his shoes. He’d managed to remove his red flip flops and put on his white socks. He hadn’t yet put on his sneakers. He was just sitting on the pavement, shoes strewn around him.

I should have just let him sit there, slowly figure out what shoes are for, how they relate to feet, how to go about the next steps in his task, but I imagined disaster and jumped up.

Sweetheart, I said, you don’t want to sit in the middle of the road to do that.

The grandma and the two adult sisters sprang into verbal action. That’s a street! they admonished the boy.

Junior shuffled around in his stocking feet, holding his sneakers and his flip flops, looking for a place to sit to put on his shoes. Apparently standing while putting on shoes was beyond his capabilities. None of the women could come up with a place for him to sit until Grandma honed in on my chair, which I had abandoned when I jumped up in astonishment at seeing an unsupervised little boy sitting in the middle of a place where drivers pull in too fast, where drivers often claim not to see me (and I’m a not insubstantial adult standing and waving my arm).

I should have let the kid sit in the road and go about his oh-so-slow business of putting on his sneakers. Maybe one of his parents would have noticed him and had him move. If a car had come in, I could have jumped to the rescue. But I’d had to open my big mouth and get involved, and worse, move my butt from my chair. Now Grandma was asking if the boy could possibly, just maybe, only for a moment sit in my chair while he put on his shoes.

I said yes. I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t have an alternative to suggest, and I knew this family was not going anywhere until Junior had his shoes on.

So Junior sat in my chair and slow-as-getting-out-of-a-warm-bed-on-a-cold-Monday-morning, he put on his sneakers. His mother never told him to hurry up or bent down to humiliated him into getting his ass into gear by “helping” him. Everybody just stood there and waited.

I looked over and saw a second tiny girl. This one had her foot propped up on my chair. I realized she had her foot on my chair’s attached folding table, the table who’s top I’d collaged. She had her foot up on the folded down table, rocking it back and forth on its hinge. If any of the adults had noticed her activity, no one had told her to cease and desist.

This was all I could take. I rushed over to that side of the chair and said, Sweetheart! (in a tone of voice that really meant, Hey you snot nose brat!)

Don’t put your foot on my chair! You’re going to get it dirty!

To her credit, the child immediately removed her foot from my collaged surface. She actually looked repentant. (I probably looked like a rabid ape lady.)

This photo I took shows the collaged surface of the folding table the girl child had her foot on.

This photo I took shows the collaged surface of the folding table the girl child had her foot on.

Her mother directed the child to Say you’re sorry!

The girl child looked up at me with big cow eyes and whispered, I’m sorry; I almost felt bad.

I couldn’t take one moment more of this genetic pool, so I hid behind the information board until they all went away.