As we got out of the car together, and I took her hand in mine, as I always do in a parking lot, I heard across the way, a string of angry profanities. A man was yelling. Really screaming, some of the most obscene things I have ever heard. The F word was used over and over, and he was screaming what an awful" Fu@%*&^ Bit%!*" someone was.
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I was appalled. I thought he was yelling at another man, as I saw another person standing a bit away from the car. It was as if he was giving the man who was screaming some space. I then thought that he could be possibly yelling at a woman, maybe his wife or girlfriend. I shuddered to think of any person, saying what I was hearing, to another. It was unreal.
I hurried Molly along, and spoke louder, and pointed out things to her, so she wouldn't hear the obscenities. It was then, as I neared the car, I saw who this "man" was yelling at.
It was a small boy. No older than my Molly, who will proudly tell you she is 3 1/2.(That 1/2 is huge you know.)
This man was shouting words to a child that no grown adult should ever have to endure. But here it was happening, right in the parking lot of ShopRite. My first impulse was to cross the street and stop him. Maybe appeal to him that he needed to cool down, and walk away from the small boy, and think about what he was saying. But I glanced at the other man, who was clearly with them, and he quickly caught my gaze, and just as fast, looked away.
My heart was pounding. I thought that this crazy man sounded like he was escalating, and he was going to hit the boy. I knew that if he laid a hand on him, I would call the police. So, I walked just a bit slower, watching carefully to make sure he didn't put his hands on the boy. His screams were so loud, and so scary, even to me. I can't imagine how scary it sounded for that poor little guy. I thought to myself that if this is how the man behaves in public, and apparently speaks to children, what must he be like in the privacy of his home.
What I did next has haunted me this entire week. I keep going over it in my mind, and I don't think that I had many options. I do thank God David wasn't with me, because I know for a fact the outcome would have been very different. He would have made a beeline across the street, and I know what would have happened after that.
What I did was nothing. I scooped Molly up, and hurried out of the frigid air, and "minded my own business". I thought that if I called 911, what could be done? Could he be arrested for cursing and screaming at a child? I also was frightened of this monster of a man, and his "friend". What could I, along with my own small child in tow, have done? I was too scared to speak up for the small boy. Me, the adult, let it happen.
I saw them a bit later, as I was choosing pears. The two men were being loud, laughing, and joking around with one another, as if nothing had just taken place moments before. I wanted to say something. I felt compelled to throw the fruit at him. I wanted to tell him that I heard every despicable word he had said. I looked at the small little boy, sitting up straight in the front of the cart, and I wanted to ask him if he was OK.
But I didn't.
I didn't do anything, but hug Molly tight, and whisper to her that I loved her.
The feeling of failing that little boy has still not left me.