Monday, June 14, 2010


I was instructing my son on the finer points of gas dispensing (er, in regards to vehicles) when something across the parking lot caught his eye. He watched for a moment and then alarmed,

Mom that girl is getting beat up and someone has taken her stuff!


Yes, that big girl has her bag and the guy hit her about 4 or five times really hard on the legs. The other girl was hitting her too.

I watch for a few moments and it appears that the big girl (who happens to be a sturdily-built Polynesian) is going through the contents of a blue backpack. Another girl seems to be trying to get at her and a boy is pushing at her with his skateboard.

Hey!!! I yell from my spot next to the gas pumps.

All the kids look over at me, my hands on my hips.

What are you doing taking her stuff? Give it back! I say this in the most authoritative adult voice I can muster. I'll admit that at over 100 feet away it's not all that effective.

Big girl says, I'm not taking her stuff. Implying that she'll give it back. Eventually.

The man at the tank next to me asks what's going on and I give him the Reader's Digest version.

He shakes his head and mutters, I'll kick their ass (more in an effort, I think, to impress me. He wouldn't do any real ass-kicking, that's clear).

We keep watching as the kids go back to their strange game.

The man says, with a little eye roll, Good thing you yelled at them.

My calf muscles are quivering, bouncing my heels in time to my rapid-fire heart beat. I respond, I'm pretty sure she could beat me up.

He looks me up and down-I am still in my biking shorts and tank top-and with a little smirk he adds, I'm pretty sure you could out run her.

Back in the parking lot, Victim Girl makes a grab for something, flips it open. A phone.

I yell at Big Girl, throwing my voice at her, You want me to call the police? Give her stuff back! (Oh my gosh, are my legs ever shaking. I'm totally scared. I wonder if they can tell at that distance. I wonder if my son can and he's standing right next to me).

It's obvious he's dying of embarrassment, but he also feels sorry for the girl. I can't believe they hit her mom. Why would a guy hit a girl?

Finally, the tank is full. We get back in the car and I tell my son I'm going to drive over and get a closer look. He begs me not to go up to them.

We drive closer and I weigh my options. I lock the doors and roll my window down a couple of inches.

Mom, don't drive over there. Don't talk to them. Don't. He visibly shrinks in his seat. I imagine he's thinking, Can someone die from Mortification?

I slow to a stop, What are you doing? Why are you taking her stuff? I am so tough through my barely opened window.

I'm not taking her stuff. Again, the inference that it's a temporary arrangement.

Would you like me to get the manager out here or bring in the police? (Why do adults always ask dumb questions?)

She looks at me like So what lady? What are you gonna do? I can't believe it, Victim Girl actually looks like she is friends with these people. Big Girl looks at me like I am some kind of Stoopid, sets her mouth in a What-you-gonna-do-about-it smile and slings the stolen backpack over her own shoulders. Then shifts her weight and does her head like that. So there.

The ball is in my court.

She towers over me by a good 4 inches. The other two kids are about my size. The victim is sitting in between them, smiling. I don't have a dog in this fight. I look her, Victim, right in the eyes, and she sneaks a look over at Big Girl. I ask her, You okay?

Yeah, smiling. Sheepish.

Some friends, I say. And we drive off.

Then my son and I talk about what happened and why people do the things they do. How Victim most likely wouldn't have pressed charges had the police been called in even though those kids were old enough they would've gone to Jail and not Juvey.

And then we talked about choosing friends, and respect and somehow the subject of gangs and battered-wife syndrome came up. Mostly my son was shocked to see a boy, nearly a man, hitting a girl, nearly a woman. And how could she sit there next to him smiling after that?

Then he reminded me not to stereotype anyone (ie Skaters, and sturdy-built Polynesian girls) because You don't know, you don't really know them or what was really going on.

He's right. I didn't know.

What would you have done?


c jane said...

What would I have done?

I would've called you. You seemed to have handled it just fine.

Teachinfourth said...

Holy hannah…the things people do/put up with.

Followed from cjane's Reader Appreciation Blogpost...

Anonymous said...

Wow you are brave and way to be an example to R. I think it is way scary to help someone when you are clearly out numbered. I bet that girl was thankful you did even if she backed down. Love you! Kel

Anonymous said...

Thats weird the comment I just wrote disappeared. It said how brave you are and what a good example to R you were. Love you KEl

Kalli Ko said...

I generally don't love confrontation, yet in situations like this I get confrontational easily. I probably would have done what you did, except I'm built sturdy so I likely would have gotten in the big girl's face. What, hit a pregnant lady? Try it.

Teenagers can be so dumb, teenage bullies especially. Stupid or not to get involved, 99% of the time when called out on it they'll get afraid and either run out of ideas (start name calling) or back down.

Hopefully you empowered the smaller girl to choose her company more carefully next time.

M-Cat said...

I'm usually okay in those situations, but admittedly, I would have chickened at the size of the kids.

And nowadays, who knows who is packing or not. Kinda scary

Maggie May said...

Hi! I am a huge organic-head too, and pregnant with our fourth. I love finding your blog :)

Elizabeth-W said...

I would have called the police before ever talking to them, and not told them I'd called the police.
Ugh. Scary situation!

Mrs. Organic said...

I am far too impulsive. I tend to act first and think later. Brilliant, I know.

AzĂșcar said...

The same thing. You know me.

Kimberly said...

I'm not sure what I would've done, but I like to think I would've said something. That I could've conquered the fear like you did and had that showdown. Goodonya, honey.

Loralee and the gang... said...

Ia probably would have reacted about the same way. I think fear of getting ourselves or our children hurt is what stops us. But that type of intimidation is also what the gangs count on, too, so that's a tough one. The man who also noticed them really should have been the one to do something, I think. At least you spoke to them. And if the girl wasn't going to speak up about what happened, there isn't really anything you could do.

Omgirl said...

I think you did the right thing. I know you did. What if that really had been a bad situation. how many times do we walk away and leave people in dire situations because we think we shouldn't interfere or it's not our problem. I say always err on the side of helping. (Did you see that video on youtube where the guy who got hit crossing a street and like 25 people walked past him lying on the road w/o helping him? Whenever I think of that, I know it's better to try to help when they don't need it than walk away when they do.)

Kim N said...

Yikes! You are a brave woman. I think you handled it great. I don't even know what I would have done. It is sad that people will let others walk all over them just to belong to a crowd.

Emma J said...

I can't believe the guy next to you just shrugged it off? Good for you.