Posted by: Kate | March 19, 2009

Little Old Bully

Yesterday, I had an appointment in Massachusetts, and afterward got together with Jenny for lunch. I brought Jacob along with me, and she brought her two younger kids – her daughter K is almost four, and son S is six months old. Our kids have always gotten along well, which makes it that much more obnoxious to be living up in New Hampshire, two hours from their house. One more reason to look forward to moving south…

Anyway, we met at Panera for lunch, which, on weekdays, is populated almost entirely by old people and laptop-users. It’s an odd mix. Jenny had arrived first, and had taken a table that was sort of tucked in next to the fireplace (which, praise Jeebus, was not on, because it’s in the 60s today – it might actually start to feel like spring once the remaining foot of snow in my front yard starts to melt). It was a spot that should have been out of the way of general traffic, especially because there was a small table at a 45-degree angle quite close to the corner of ours.

But in one of those bizarre quirks of human behavior, somehow people seemed to need to shove between the two tables instead of going around the smaller one, even though there was significantly more space the other way. After the second person did it, I was just about to shift the tables around in some way, either to widen that space or to close it up entirely, because each pusher was jostling Jacob’s chair just a little too much for my comfort.

I wasn’t fast enough, though, because in came the little old lady. She was wearing a heavy sweater with a ski vest over it (apparently she didn’t get the memo about the weather), and she was carrying her little tray and a weaponlike purse. Without the extras, she wouldn’t exactly have been graceful and aerodynamic; with them, she was like a bull in a china shop.

She took the time to stop and look at both options – and, let’s be clear, going around the other table would have meant about three extra steps – and decided that she simply had to shove her way through the smaller passage. It took her three tries, during which she smacked the woman at the smaller table on the head with the tray, dropped the purse from shoulder to elbow with tremendous force, and finally knocked Jacob clear off his chair and onto the floor, bonking his head off K’s chair in the process.

As if this was all not ridiculous enough, once my son is lying on the floor looking bewildered – this is not what he expected to happen between a bite of sandwich and a sip of lemonade – the woman stood stock-still and stared at me, as though she had absolutely no idea how this had happened and couldn’t figure out what to do next. I gave her a count of three in my head, and then said, “Ma’am, could you move so that I can get to my son?” She did, and walked away. Not a word of apology or even acknowledgment that this, perhaps, could have worked out better. Lovely: a brute and a curmudgeon.

Jacob was fine, never even cried, and the rest of lunch was uneventful, following a brief rearrangement of chairs and tables to redirect traffic. When it was time to go home, we reached our minivan at the same time that the little old bully reached her sedan: parked directly next to us. She found it appropriate to put her soda on the hood of my minivan while she scratched up the side of her car trying to get the key in the lock, and very nearly forgot the soda before getting in.

So, residents of North Andover, you have my sympathy. I have serious doubts about this woman’s ability to safely operate a vehicle, seeing as how she couldn’t safely operate her own two feet, but chose to leave the parking lot directly instead of sticking around to watch her exit.



  1. Gee, there is a Panera’s just down the road. I never went in, assuming one should bring a laptop to look normal. Such is not the case?
    Apparently, football helmets and pads are required.

  2. I’ve never brought a laptop in… but I don’t necessarily think I qualify as normal. Then again, my cashier yesterday had a fabulous manicure… and a full beard. So I’m not sure just how important normal is, there.

    But, yes, protective gear, for sure.

  3. oh man – my blood is just burning up about that lady. That is one of those situations where you either totally lose it and yell or just laugh because it is so ridiculous.

  4. Clare was once knocked clear off a rock shelf at Jenolan Caves by a little old blue rinser who ‘couldn’t see’ and wanted her spot! The kid was only three at the time. Something happens to some old people, they feel it’s their given right to be ‘owed’. Bullshit. People like that should be bitch slapped to Tuesday, I’d have had more to say to her frankly! Glad Jacob was alright!

  5. […] Intentions Report, which is due March 31, we are seeing bullish enthusiasm return to the markets Little Old Bully – 03/19/2009 Yesterday, I had an appointment in Massachusetts, and afterward […]

  6. Our Panera is full of college students. And their just as clueless as the little old lady.

  7. And to think I thought this post was going to be about your MIL… ;-P

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