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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Assailant

The Assailant

So. Yeah. Here we go.

We were standing in the spectator area at the air show, in front and to the left of this man. When the aviator from the Air National Guard landed, guys on the flight line started shooting t-shirts into the crowd with one of those air powered guns they use at basketball games.

They flew to the left and right of us, behind us, in front of us, when suddenly...

One came right toward me. Dr. SmartyPants said, "That's yours, babe!" I reached up my hand, fingers outstretched, stood up on my tiptoes and felt the fabric nestle into my palm. I was excited. I didn't really care about the t-shirt exactly, but was caught up in the moment of "I caught it! I caught it!"

That's when it happened.

The pinkie and ring fingers on my left hand were suddenly wrenched backward. My wrist bent at an unusual and uncomfortable angle. Then my arm was torn from its socket and fell with a thud to the ground and that man up there pulled the t-shirt from my dead and flapping fingers.

Okay. That last sentence didn't happen, BUT THAT'S WHAT IT FELT LIKE.

That man. THAT MAN grabbed the t-shirt I HAD ALREADY CAUGHT and stole it from me. I am not even kidding when I say that I lost feeling in my hand from the force of his grab, and that my wrist and neck were sore for the rest of the day.

Obviously, I let go of the t-shirt, because I value my limbs more than I value a $5 poly cotton blend shirt, but I was OUTRAGED. Where the hell did common decency go, people? I turned around and glared at him and said, "OH MY GOD. Seriously? That has to be the rudest thing I have ever encountered IN MY LIFE. You ripped it out of my hand!"

He gave a little shrug. So I looked at Dr. SmartyPants and said, "Wow. That's some kind of big man there, isn't it? Stole a t-shirt from a WOMAN half his size. Nice." The man, who was now seated in his comfortable seat half stood up and kind of offered the shirt back to me.

NOT because he felt guilt or shame at the way he treated me, but because he could see other people glaring at him.

I told him I didn't want it. And I didn't. You couldn't have paid me to take the t-shirt at that point.

Dr. SmartyPants told me that the guy came out of nowhere - jumped up over my back and grabbed the shirt after I clearly had it under control. Joshua said, "Mom - you had a great catch. I can't believe that guy stole it from you."

People, I really was stunned. I mean, I've seen that ridiculous kind of behavior when a foul ball is knocked into the stands at a major league baseball game and some tool rips the ball out of the hand of a child, but I've never been on the receiving end. What happens to people in that moment? Where does the sense of right and wrong go when tempted with a free prize? That man wasn't some young punk kid with no respect for his elders - he's clearly older than I am, by a decade or more.

Everything I could see about him would lead me to believe that he was a fine, upstanding citizen of the world up until the point that a $5 bit of fabric flew in his general direction. At that moment, he became an ass, willing to sacrifice his dignity and take down a woman.

Step carefully, friends. And stay away from the free t-shirts.

You never know what they will end up costing you.