This past Saturday, two customers at Marcy’s Diner in Portland, Maine were subject to a stunning display of misbehavior…and we’re not just talking about their colicky toddler.
The Carsons had ordered three pancakes for their table, but left them outside of their daughter’s reach (the diner owner later claimed that they actively didn't feed her). This caused the child to wail loudly.
For forty minutes.
The child's parents should have realized at that point that the situation wasn't improving, and taken the girl outside so as not to disturb other patrons. Diner owner Darla Neugebauer suggested as much.
But the Carsons refused. Inconsiderate? Absolutely. Enraging? We'll grant that, too.
That still doesn't justify Neugebauer's next move, though: she slammed her hands down on the counter and told the child to quiet down.
Incompetent, overly permissive parents abound in this world, and they're tougher on people in the service industry (who have some of the most thankless jobs in the world, really) than perhaps anyone else.
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Most of us grumble from afar, or confront the parents if we're feeling brave. Those of us in a position of authority, like that of a teacher or mentor, try our best to offer a more positive example to the child.
What we don't do is yell at other people's kids for their parents' failures, especially when the kids are at an age when they've not yet learned to make decisions separate from those of their parents.
The girl’s mother, Tara, says she attempted to turn the encounter into a teachable moment (which is maybe something she should have tried earlier on?):
“I turned to my daughter and I was like, ‘Listen, this is how I’m raising you not to be as an adult — like, you will never be like this when you get older.”
“I felt helpless as a mom that, you know, I couldn’t do anything to help her, because I can’t explain why there’s crazy people in this world that behave like that.”
But even after customers vowed to never visit her restaurant again
Neugebauer claimed that she had no regrets:
“Life’s full of choices and you’ve got to live with all of them. I chose to yell at a kid (and) it made her shut up, which made me happy, it made my staff happy, it made the 75 other people dining here happy, and they left, they may never come back, other people may not come in — their loss, really.”
Neugebauer went on to suggest, using the restaurant’s own social media account, that the parents should be glad that she didn’t go farther:
“You are lucky I didn’t get really f*cking nuts because being physical is not something I cower from.”
Which would be pretty frightening if it didn't make her sound like a Disney villain.
But who are we kidding? No one comes away looking good in this story.
Banner image credit: flickr @ majorvols