Sunday, October 21, 2012

866. I don't even have a title for this one

So I was driving Short to go watch Tall’s football game and we were waiting in traffic over by Giant, you know the one?  The one on the corner by the new bank near the high school?  Yeah, that one.  So anyway, there was this woman dressed in full Indian garb, I mean like she is from India, not Native American.  You know that I am not prejudiced, I don’t care what country you come from or how you’re dressed, but it is a tiny bit relevant to my story so I didn’t want to leave it out. 

She was standing there on the sidewalk with her back to the line of cars, we were stopped at the signal light and about three cars back from the intersection.  Where the construction was last week?  That is the spot.  Remember how there are all those rose bushes right there?  The miniature red ones?  Yeah, those.  This woman was doing something to them, not sure what, but Short and I were beyond curious. 
I stared at her, trying to figure out what exactly she was doing.  She had two white plastic bags with her, like grocery bags, that kind.  She was putting something into the bags.  At first, I willed myself into thinking that she was picking up trash to make the roses look better, getting rid of any abandoned cigarette butts or stray gum wrappers.  I kept watching.  I knew what she was really doing, of course I knew at this point, but I willed myself to believe that she was not doing what I suspected. 

Oh, you still don’t know?  Really?  Well, here is a hint, and this is what cemented it for me:  she had scissors in her hand. 
Yep, she was cutting the roses. 

Does she work for the City?  Is that what you just said?  Are you kidding me?  Ha!  No. 
So of course Short was seeing this whole thing play out and he was mesmerized because he had no idea that people were allowed to just help themselves to public property like that.  He said, his tone full of wonder, “Mommy, what is that lady doing?” 

And I had to tell the truth, there was no getting around it.  I said, “She is stealing the flowers.”   
The car got very quiet, well it was already pretty quiet, but it got even more quiet and I could tell that Short was waiting for me to take action, to be a role model.  He was waiting for me to do something.  I was also waiting for myself to do something.  I was wondering what I would do.  And all the while in the back recesses of my brain, I was realizing that the signal light could turn green at any second and I would have to drive. 

What should I do? 
I rolled down the passenger window.  I heard a loud firm voice, which turned out to be my own, yell out, “Hey!  Why are you cutting those flowers?” 

She heard me, how could she not, and she froze.  Then she turned around and for the first time, I could see her face.  She was young, about 22.  She was beautiful, too. 
She flashed me a gorgeous cover-model magazine grin, and before she even said what she said, which she had obviously rehearsed just in case some busy-body nosy person like me, or perhaps a policeman, stopped her, it was painfully clear to me that she uses that awesome smile to get whatever she wants in life, including free roses.  

She said in perfect English with no trace of an accent …
Wait for it …

“They’re for Buddha.” 
This, as you can imagine, did throw me off for about two seconds, it was not really the explanation that I was anticipating.  Actually, I have no idea what I had expected her to say, but it wasn’t that. 

I spoke again:  “I don’t care who they’re for, that is stealing!  Stop stealing!  Those flowers are for everyone to enjoy.  That is public property.  You should go buy your own flowers.” 
I knew in this moment that she thought I was some ignorant person who does not know who Buddha is, her God.  The way I said I don’t care who they’re for was as if she had told me a random person’s name, like the name of her brother or her ill grandmother.    

She considered this for a moment, and then she replied, “Okay, I’m sorry.  I’ll stop.”  Her words had a sliver of sincerity to them.    
I continued my rant anyway, because I am never satisfied even when someone admits they're wrong.  “You know you are wrong!  You know you are!  Stop stealing!” I yelled out again. 

She walked in the opposite direction, back toward the gas station on the other corner, and for a moment I thought she might be brazen enough to keep clipping some roses or at least write down my license plate number and try to stab my tires later with her sharp scissors. 
I put Short on patrol.  “Can you see her still?”  I asked him.  “Is she cutting more flowers?”

“No, Mommy, she’s walking away now.” 
So the light finally clicked green, it is a long light, isn’t it?  And then we drove on.  The instant replay section of my brain showed the cutting roses scene over and over and over again.  I was second-guessing myself, writing a new script.  What should I have said differently? 

“Buddha does not want you to steal!” 
“Buddha made those flowers for everyone, not just you!” 

“Buddha hates thieves!”
I know, you’re right, I guess I handled it relatively well after all.  If I had done nothing, I would be kicking myself later.  Oh, and guess what?  When we got to the game and Short and I were walking out to the field where The Husband and Tall were already practicing, Short looked right up at me and said with confidence,  

“Mommy, when we see somebody stealing, we tell them to stop.” 


  1. Buddha isn't actually god to buddhists. But yeah, I could definitely see how that's a tough situation when you have your kids in the back seat! I honestly take no issue with someone taking a few flowers, but snipping all of them off is over the top! I remember when I was in university, I was homesick and it was lilac season. Lilacs have always been "my" flower, since they bloom around my birthday and my mom used to fill the house with vases of lilacs from the bushes in our backyard. Anyway, I was just walking and feeling sorry for myself when I wandered past a huge lilac bush right outside the city hall. And I did it. I stole some lilacs. I broke off a whole bunch of branches. And then, because I was scared that I'd get caught, I ran all the way home. Haha!

    1. Stephanie Clay Goddess, I will send you some lilacs so you never have to steal outside of city hall again.

      And I seriously thought about returning the book I had already read to the bookstore (because I had bought it accidentally and read it several years ago, but did not figure that out until that last third of the book), so I myself am by no means perfect. But in the end I kept the book and will just give it to a friend (who hopefully has not read it!).

  2. I have a title: Perfect Mom Moment. Huzzah!

    1. Strong praise coming from a junior high teacher who deals with all kinds of behaviors and misbehaviors. Thank you!!!!

  3. Good job and gutsy since you never know how a stranger will react.

    1. My middle name is Gutsy. It used to be Lazy, but now it is Gutsy. A long time ago it used to be Insecure.

      I like Gutsy best.

  4. You did the exactly right thing! Go You!!

    1. thanks, Elsie! my heart was racing, would of course rather not have a confrontation if I could help it.

  5. Well done. Short learned that Mommy doesn't just talk the talk -- she walks the walks (in a way -- I hope you understand what I mean -- that corner is always annoying -- the light takes too long -- to go to the grocery store I have to drive by The Casket Store).


  6. I was all speechless that you stood up for the flowers and told someone to stop stealing because I would never be so brave so all I could write was the above. But then I worried you would take it the wrong way so I had to come back. And then when thinking about it I realized it would have never even occurred to me that it was stealing because they didn't belong to anyone; they were there for everyone to enjoy, including picking them. So wow again.

    1. Yikes, moral debate time! Here goes (this is what I told my son): if everyone cut 20 flowers off to take home with them, there would be none left. And yes, they do belong to someone: the City! who paid for them with my tax dollars (and the girl's most likely). What is that slogan hikers/ campers have? "Take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints."

      In the end, we are talking about, what, $20? So maybe a more compassionate solution on my end would be to say to the girl, "Here is $20, go buy flowers if you are so poor that you are forced to pick ones that DO NOT belong to you."

      Maybe you are just a nicer/ more compassionate person than I am, Amelia? I have no idea why this (the girl taking the flowers) gets me so riled up, but it does. It was maybe her air of "entitlement."

      ps-- thanks for your comment, I do love comments (good or bad, and I like it when people challenge me, it makes me think!!!)

    2. I totally agree with your thinking, and I'm jealous of your guts. It just has sincerely never occurred to me before.

    3. Amelia, I was thinking about this some more, and I realized that it is the fact that the girl had SCISSORS with her....... it just makes it seem quite premeditated.

    4. Hahahaha! So I should stop freaking out about whether or not to let my very flower driven 3 year old pick a few daisies in the grocery store parking lot?

  7. I was waiting for you to say she was the soccer coach or another mom and the confrontation would continue! I'm glad it didn't. I didn't realize the Buddha appreciates roses so much.

  8. Good for you! I am glad she did not RUN away with her scissors, as then you would have had another lesson on your hands with Short watching!

  9. I, like some of the others, might of been too intimidated to speak up. I applaud you for that. There have been more than a few times I have seen things and later regretted not having said something.

    It would never of occurred to me to snip flowers that were anywhere other than in my yard. Even common areas and public places belong to someone else...not me. The public spaces are for the public.

    I somewhat respect the young woman for stopping and not being defensive. Did she not realize that she had no right to cut the flowers?

    The greater significance to the story is the moral lesson you gave Short. High five, MOV!

  10. That really is a long light.

    I think roses smell terrible, so I would have considered her to be doing a public service. But good for you for showing your son what's right.

  11. I remember when my dad first told me that picking flowers was stealing. I was in total shock, having never really thought about who flowers belonged to. I agree that the scissors/carrier bag brings this little crime to the next level though.

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