Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Photo Taken

The place was packed, but people were 'Friday Night Friendly' and were quick to move their chairs so I could make it to a table for two in the back corner. Joe was finishing up with placing the order and then had to weave, like I did, through tightly packed tables to get to where I was sitting. I sat looking into the restaurant while Joe looked out towards the window. We waiting to hear Joe's name called over the loudspeaker indicating that our order was ready. Unfortunately Joe is a popular name here, I guess, because he had to go up four times before he was the 'right' Joe.

Even with the noise and the packed tables and the preponderance of Joe's we were having a nice time, as was everyone else. I soon noticed another wheelchair user come in, she made her way through to order and then found a table by herself. She, like me, is noticeable for reasons other than her chair. She had a facial difference and she was a large woman. I was impressed that she made barely a ripple of impact when she entered the restaurant. Most people seemed to be in party mood, most people seemed to be focused on their dinners, their friends and the night ahead.

Two tables away from us and two further tables away from the other wheelchair users there was a table with a young girl, maybe 10, here older sister 16 and their father. I saw it exactly the same time as the young girl did. The older teen snapped a photo of the woman with the multiple differences who was sitting quietly reading a book she had brought with her. The little girl was immediately angry.

"Delete that!!!"

"Delete that!!!"

"Delete that!!!"

The older teen wasn't listening, she was rapidly doing something on her phone while laughing. Dad wasn't paying attention much to anything but his burger. Finally, the young kid got frustrated and enlisted her Dad's assistance.

"Dad, she's going to take that picture and put it on the Internet. She's going to make fun of that woman. That's mean. It's cruel. You have to stop her."

I didn't hear what the father said, but the little girls face was full of frustration and disappointment.

"Stop trying to be our friend, our buddy, you're our DAD. Be a DAD. She's going to hurt someone. It's mean. People do this and people die, they kill themselves. IT's MEAN."

Dad, turned to her and told her to settle down. He then reached over and took the older daughters phone and deleted the picture. He apologized to his older daughter saying, after he looked at the picture and deleted it, "It was a really funny picture."

The little girl, looked at her dad like she was really seeing him, pushed her supper away and started to softly cry. 


Molly said...

That little girl understands the world and how to not be a jerk. Sad that her older sister and father don't. I hope her bright spirit continues to shine through. I've got faith there's someone she's connected with out there who taught her those views, even if they weren't at dinner.

Glee said...

Wow, in so many ways!

Jayne Wales said...

Oh he'll. this resonates so much. I used to get into trouble for looking out for people. My family all said I picked up lame ducks and laughed at me about it. They have only changed as they have experienced things in their life. It was in me from day 1. It was often a very frustrating, lonely place to be. I have a little friend here aged 20 who sticks up for people and is so sensitive too. It gets hard when people mock you for it. Just keep in there. Like I say still to people I'm 57 now and been like it all my life.
I want to grab that little girl and hug her and say you are just great and keep it up.

Tamara said...

What a courageous little girl. I wonder who and what has influenced her that her sister and father missed. Quite a story.

wheeliecrone said...

It is so sad when you see a child who has more emotional maturity than her parent. I, for one, hope that that little girl never loses her sense of the dignity and worth of every human being, no matter how much or little beauty and physical fitness they may appear to have.

clairesmum said...

"Wisdom from the mouths of babes.." May she always have at least one person in her life that loves her as she speaks her truth, so that she does not lose her voice. We need her, that young girl.
thanks for sharing this story, Dave.

Ron Arnold said...

Interesting incident. What I wonder is where the values on display were formed? In general - folks that attend(ed) public education tend to have their values strongly influenced by peer orientation . . . and I'm guessing that the Dad and older daughter garnered their values from just such a place. (The strength in conforming numbers place.) The little girl was thinking / reacting from someplace else . . . .

wendy said...

How horrible to teach your child that her noble intentions are something to be apologized for. How horrible that a grown man doesn't understand that it's not funny to riducle other people. How horrible that a teenager feels the need to be intentionally cruel.

Belly (Liz McLennan) said...

This piece makes me mad, sad and glad, all at the same time.

That the teenaged girl would be so deliberately cruel, I feel anger and sadness.

That her father too, in his way, shunned both the woman in the photo, his daughter AND decency, makes me mad and sad.

But that a little girl saw the cruelty and not only recognized it for what it was, she spoke up and the photo got deleted. Was that enough? Maybe not, but she did what she could, in the moment and that gives me hope. Such hope for the future.