Friday, January 13, 2012

Quiet Justice, Quiet Lesson

Marie parked in front of the sandwich shop.  It was late and she was tired.  Her plan was to buy sandwiches from dinner and take them home to the family.  As she exited her car, she saw a small child alone in the car parked next to hers. 
The child bounced happily over the seats, all the while watching someone in the restaurant.  Marie looked through the large windows and saw a man and woman watching the small child.  Marie entered the store and stood in line.  The couple walked up the window to order.  Marie looked at the child in the car.  He was crying now.  She could see his mouth moving as if he was calling for his parents.  The couple took turns looking at the child.  They could see him crying, but made no reaction. 
There were several customers between Marie and the couple.  She watched them, assuming they would go back to their car and crying child when they received their food.  Instead, they picked up the order and calmly walked to a table, sat down and began eating.  Marie looked outside and watched the child throw himself down on the back seat.  The look on his face was one of terror.  Marie felt her blood pressure rise as she watched the scene.
This makes me so mad.  When I get to the window I am going to demand the manager call the police.  She thought as she stood in line.
The couple repeatedly turned in the seat to watch the child who was no less hysterical.  They made no effort to console him.  It was obvious the child had been a holy terror and was being punished for inappropriate behavior.  I don’t care if he is.  That is not appropriate punishment for a small child.  Marie thought as her temper rose even higher.  Stay calm, Marie.  Don’t make a scene in front of this crowd.
A man standing at the front of the line received his food and quietly walked toward the dining room.  He was dressed in starched jeans, button down shirt and boots.  Marie watched him walk toward the couple.  She heard him say, “Hi, how are you doing?  Do you have a minute?”  She saw him quickly show the man something and slip it back into his pocket.  As he folded it, she noticed it was a police badge.
The police officer and the man walked outside and stood beside the car containing the screaming child.  He was now hitting the window and crying.  Marie saw the police officer point to the child and speak sternly to the father.  The man nodded his head and indicated his understanding.  Then the officer got into an unmarked car and drove away.  The father opened the door and the toddler fell into his arms.  The father hugged the child and talked for a while.  The child had the same expression on his face that the father had when the officer was talking to him.  
Marie looked around the restaurant at the other costumers.  It appeared that she was the only one to have witnessed the interaction.  Her heart melted with affection for the officer and shame at the way she would have handled the situation.  Today an officer quietly handled a situation and taught a father about love.
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