A while back, I wrote of a grocery store parking lot incident that occurred when I was still a newish father. My baby clunked her head on a shopping cart, got upset, and proceeded to yak several metric tons of formula on the pavement. And while I tried to calm her down and avoid the puke, some mouthy broad rolled by me. Did she offer to help? Did she let out a sympathetic “I’ve been there” sigh? No, she screamed TILT HER FORWARD!! and kept on moving.
This act was astounding in its cluelessness and willingness to throw gasoline on a fire. It takes a special kind of person to see another human being in crisis, resist the temptation to help or ignore them, and yell something at them.
Rudeness is a fact of life in NYC, but it’s usually simple, impersonal rudeness. When someone goes out of their way to be rude to you while you’re in the middle of something very serious–well, that person must be applauded for their sheer commitment to assholery.
This woman was the champion of Rude Douches in my experience. Until yesterday, that is. Ladies and gentlemen, a new king has been crowned.
I’ve been super busy at work lately, but yesterday I left in a timely fashion. I was looking forward to a quiet evening at home, working on the podcast, hopefully catching 30 Rock, The Office, and the debut of Delocated. My daughter must have sensed this, because she picked this evening to jam a raisin in her nose.
She toddled over me and said “Daddy, boo-boo nose!” I saw the raisin sticking out of her left nostril, and asked her to sit still while I retrieved it. Of course, this caused her to rear her head back and lodge the raisin deep in her nasal cavity, way too deep for me to get at.
We called her doctor, who told us what we feared: she’d have to go to the ER. There are a few hospitals near us, but they’re all closing within months. I have reservations about taking my child to a hospital whose workers know they’re gonna be out of a job soon. I had visions of the doctor saying, “Yeah, her appendix is coming out. It’s not infected, but I’ve never done an appendectomy before and this might be my last chance!”
So we schlepped all the way to Flushing, amidst beautiful LIE traffic, and ran smack into a jam-packed ER waiting room. Despite an interminable wait, the baby was reasonably calm and well behaved, until we went to triage. She picked this moment to have one of her trademark meltdowns, kicking and screaming and going limp like a non-violent protester.
Post-triage, she was still freaking out. I ran with her out of the waiting room and tried to calm her down, but in her anger she kept kicking me right in the stomach. “You want down? Fine,” I said, and let her on the ground. She slumped and whined with her head on the hallway tiles.
This is an act that every parent of a 2-year-old has seen. You just have to wait it out until the kid is tired of acting like a jerk. Doing so can make you look like a jerk to non-parents and other bystanders, but it’s really the best thing to do. Anything else is a waste of your physical and emotional energy.
At this point, the ER doors opened and one of the hospital maintenance guys came through. “You gotta get her off the floor,” he said. “It’s dirty.”
“I would if I could,” I shoot back.
“You gotta do it,” he says. “You gotta be a father.”
And he keeps on walking.
Ok, first off, mind your own business. Second, mind your own business. Third through one hundred and seventy eighth, MIND YOUR OWN FUCKING BUSINESS.
I gotta be a father?! I’ve been waiting in this overcrowded ER waiting room two goddamn hours because my daughter shoved a raisin up her nose. In a few minutes, I’m gonna have to hold her down on a hospital bed while a complete stranger shoves a hook up her nostril to fish it out. If that isn’t the definition of a father, you tell me what is, asshole.
And yeah, I figure the floor is dirty, Einstein. But if it is, isn’t that YOUR FAULT, GUY WHO CLEANS HOSPITAL FLOOR FOR A LIVING?!
I was seriously ready to fist-fight this guy. But he was gone as quick as he appeared, and at this exact moment we were called into the ER. My desire to get the fuck out of this place as quickly as possible trumped my desire to punch a stranger, no matter how much a bastard he was.
Congrats, New Rude Douche Champion! I’m gonna pick out a huge trophy in your honor! And the next time I see you, prepare to have that trophy shoved right up your ass.