Tag Archives: behavior

A 6-Year-Old Don Juan Is A Problem

18 Jan

Today, on my way back from the grocery store, I got hit on by a six-year-old.  I assume he was a six-year-old, because he was most certainly prepubescent and no bigger than a slightly overgrown wombat.

He pulled up to the corner of the sidewalk on his tiny child skateboard as I walked by. “Excuse me, miss!”

I stopped and removed my headphones, entirely expecting him to tell me he was lost or ask me where some tiny child theme park was located or if I liked the color green or some shit like that.

“I’m doing this thing for my skate park,” said the tiny male human as he smiled up at me with wide puppy eyes, “where I have to land a trick in order to get a hug.”

Uh.

Uuuuuuh.

Well that’s a weird promotion. Why would they have a kid do that? What kind of training approach are they OH MY GOD THIS INFANT IS HITTING ON ME.

“I… think you should ask your parents for that hug,” I said, once my brain stopped reeling from the shock of being flirted with by someone who probably doesn’t even know if he can grow a mustache yet.

“I did that already!”

“Yeah, well, practice makes perfect.”

At this point, I started to walk away, and this tiny manchild actually began yelling after me, shouting “Aw, come on! Come on!”

I, being an adult and not the size of a wombat, was able to outpace the indignant little human fairly easily and made it home without a small yapping thing at my heels.

Now, let’s talk about this.

The story is amusing. You have a child acting like an adult, and that is often funny, in the same way that pugs wearing sweaters and boots are funny. It’s one thing pretending to be something it’s not. It’s a behavior farce. Lol. Ha ha. Whatever.

But this story is also absolutely fucking horrifying. It’s only funny because I was dealing with a small child incapable of overpowering me or presenting any real threat. But fast-forward ten years. That wombat-sized kid is now a sixteen year old boy who’s probably at least as tall as I am. Move ahead another ten years, and now a fully grown man is the one getting angry that I turned him down and is shouting “aw, come on!” at me while I’m just trying to carry my bags home from the grocery store. Now it’s an adult who’s throwing a tantrum because his line didn’t work and he didn’t get what he wanted. Now it’s someone who’s much more of a match for me physically coming at me with a lifetime of assumption that if he asks for it, I, a complete stranger, should give it to him.

That right there is rape culture. Inside of a six-year-old.

Not so funny now.

Comedy becomes tragedy all too easily. For that story ten and twenty years from now to be different, its revision needs to start now.

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what you do when no one is looking

13 Jun

In The Little Princess by F. H. Burnett, the main character – a young girl called Sara who starts life the daughter of an affluent Englishmen riding the boom of colonialism – falls from her position upon her father’s death and finds herself poor and friendless. Having just traded in her furs and silks for the rags of a scullery maid, Sara wonders whether she, who has been always told she is a good child, really is one. Is she truly kind and gracious, or was she merely so generous because with her wherewithal, it was easy for her to be?

Goodness, as it turns out, is very often a luxury item.

I am currently rather poor. I am lucky to have friends and roommates who can cover rent and keep me off the streets and step in when unavoidable costs carry a few too many zeroes for me to be able to handle them on my own, and who apparently even enjoy buying me coffee and lunch sometimes. I am incredibly lucky, as this allows me to allocate my income to necessities like food and medication and bus fare. It’s a precarious game, but I’m currently making my life work through the gift of social affluence.

But monetarily, I am dirt poor.

Reference scale: My ability to transport myself around L.A. can switch over the gain or loss of a single dollar.

Today, at the Springfield airport, a food vendor gave me incorrect change.

They’d given me a dollar more than I was due.

And while back in college, when what I did and did not need to pay for was different and the impact of cost scaled differently, I probably would have not hesitated to hand back that dollar, would have felt not a single qualm – today, I felt it.

I had been given a dollar. An extra dollar. That was one more bus ride I could pay for. One more granola bar. One unit closer to being able to buy a new pair of shorts, one that wasn’t years old and close to literally falling apart at the seams.

I wanted that dollar.

But that dollar was not mine.

Mentally, I went through the math again and yes, that dollar was definitely not my due. But it was just a dollar. I could walk away. No one would notice. It wasn’t like I was taking much.

But the dollar. wasn’t. mine.

And what’s more, the food vendor hadn’t given me any reason to want to take more from them. There was no karmic justice in me walking away with that dollar. The cashier had been professional, efficient, polite, even friendly. The vendor, as far as I know, wasn’t some chain with terrible corporate practices. They had done nothing to me that required restitution. Honestly, if the cashier had been some massive jerk, I maybe wouldn’t have felt so bad about contemplating walking away with that dollar. Yeah, they’d have to go through the cash register at the end of the day and try to figure out why their sales weren’t squaring up. Were off by a dollar. Just one dollar. So maybe they’d just made an addition mistake… maybe it was really there, and they’d just missed it… maybe if they just… checked again…

If I’d been somehow massively inconvenienced or wronged, maybe I could have justified inflicting those consequences for the sake of having that extra dollar. Maybe, very probably, I would have been fine with implementing that sort of system.

Or maybe I would have given the dollar back anyway. Because as much as I theoretically can support less-than-perfect actions, I carry around way too much guilt, or something, to really be able to carry out those actions myself.

Yeah. I gave the dollar back.

And while it is no great thing, giving a single dollar back to a vendor that gave you too much change – internally, for me, it still meant something.

It was an opportunity, to show myself, at least, that my goodness doesn’t just scale with my bank account. That I am honest, even when it’s very hard to afford to be. That my values last, even when they carry real cost. Even when I could have justified taking advantage of a minor slip to gain a little bit for myself.

It’s relieving, in a way. To know that at least in this small way I will actually act in reality how I’d say I would, were the scenario presented as a thought exercise. That I’d behave the way that elementary school-aged me reading The Little Princess would have told me that of course I was supposed to behave.

I like knowing that I am who I think I am, even when no one is looking.