When do you get involved?
I was gallivanting through my local target store, decked out in a Southern Belle costume, including a wide brimmed straw hat, lace fan and short gloves. There are two ways you can travel when dressed like that.
A gallivant and a stroll. And I was running too late to stroll.
A man stopped his friend and pointed at me and said, “Now, that’s class.” I logged it in my memory forever–it was hilarious.
I only had two items, the lanes were full, I spot one down the way that seemed to be moving faster and then I hear, in a furious male voice.
“You don’t FUCKING listen. You don’t EVER fucking listen.”
And my heart skipped a beat-I look down the lane i was just passing by and a man has a young boy (around 12) by the neck, face down on the counter top. I stopped–and then consciously plant myself behind them. He does it again. The kid behind the counter is shaken but trying not to get involved, answering this guys questions about his cartwheel app. Very nonchalantly for someone who is also manhandling a human being. He was an expert.
I saw Target employees looking–pretending to busy themselves nearby, their eyes shifted in his direction. Have you ever been in the presence of something so intense, it feels like no one breathing?
This boy was autistic. He was also calm. He wasn’t throwing a fit. He was reaching for M&Ms-like my 1 year old does. The only word he said was ‘fuck’ with his face pushed into a conveyor belt. I watched the dads hands grip into his skin through his t-shirt. Even when he was perfectly still the dad had an iron clad grip on him-digging through his clothes to reach his skin. THEN, he has the audacity to look at me and say:
“Sorry for the wait.”
My face twisted in disgust. I know I can’t hide my feelings-so it was clear how I felt.
THEN, he did it AGAIN. At the top of his bleeding lungs.
“MICHAEL, YOU DON’T FUCKING LISTEN!” And twisted his fingers into his back.
“Is he okay,” I asked. I couldn’t take it anymore.
“He’s fine, he doesn’t fucking listen.”
“You’re leaving red marks all over his body,” I pointed to all the red splotches on his neck and arms. “It’s making everyone–me, it’s making me so uncomfortable.”
And this guy lost it. He is looking at me dead in the eye, red faced and again as loud as his voice could get:
“GET IN LINE LADY. HALF OF AMERICA THINKS I’M A SHITTY DAD! THE OTHER HALF THINK I ABUSE MY SON. HE’S GETTING KICKED OUT OF SCHOOL BECAUSE HE DOESN FUCKING LISTEN.”
His frustration was palpable. He was shaking. I was shaking. No, I can’t imagine the daily patience needed by parents of children with learning disabilities. But, I can imagine how you wouldn’t deal with it.
“When you do this in public, you make it everyone’s concern,” I eked out. He took of with his son and I could barely count my money out. The teller asked ME, if I was okay. Yeah dude, I’m fine.
I have a history of domestic violence. I can absolutely NOT watch someone be publicly humiliated and walk by like they’re not a human being themselves. I mean, should any of us? Turn a blind eye? We don’t know people’s situations-does that mean we shouldn’t question the bad things we see?
That morning I spent time at the Open Door Mission where I learned that 50 percent of women and children placed there are escaping Domestic Violence. It was a morning full of tragic fact and wonderful hearts and hope.
That night at my fundraiser, I saw a man I sent to jail over domestic violence 8 years ago. A man who violated me, while some people stood by silently and others came to my aid.
What is this theme? I believe in things being put in front of you for a reason. If it is part of your purpose in life, to take it on and make a change. Even when you would prefer to choose another cause.
My husband reminded me that he wasn’t there to protect me. He asked what if that guy had turned around and hit me or worse. I didn’t consider that in the moment. He said that “these things happen around you and you soak them all in, you can’t take on everyone’s problems baby.” He’s right. And I get that. But if it happens in front of me, is it still not my problem? I have no definitive. Just questions, unresolved.
On the flip side, I wondered if I made it worse for the boy. If now, out of his own humiliation, the Dad would take it out on him. Take me, out on him. And the cycle continues.
So, I’d love some insight. The truth is in hindsight, the day was so full of dichotomy, coincidence, reality-it was sobering. (Despite the fundraisers free beer)
It felt like purpose.
Off thinking and praying,