"I have a need for everyone to follow the rules and admit when they are wrong. I guess it's a 'tattle-tale' issue."
That was the line I just delivered to my dad during his impromptu visit to our house so that he could say hey to the boys. While here, he brought up my recent post-edit about comment deletion and my strong stance against it. His response to my revelation about needing to impose order in an unruly world was little more than a blank stare, a roll of the eyes, and a look that said, "Hi, have we just met? This is not news."
I have been fighting a losing battle to make the world bend to my opinions my entire life. The "rules" I want people to follow are mostly rules I have made up in my head. If I could pass them into law, I would, but that requires a lot of organization and probably at least a few business suits.
"Your expectations are too high" is something I've heard so often that I would like to announce that from now on, all you have to say is "Code Flying Pigs" and I'll know what you mean. Yet I keep plowing right along, acting surprised and disappointed when people make decisions that I disagree with, or at the very least would not have made myself. You know, wrong decisions.
(that was a joke-- are the trolls still sticking around?)
Needless to say, it should come as no surprise that I was fascinated by all of the different takes on how I could have handled finding a three year old boy alone in Hellboy II the other night. You were all refreshingly honest about how you would have handled it and that is what made it so interesting.
If you haven't read it already, the brief rundown is that while poking my head into Hellboy II on my way out of the local movie multiplex, I found a three year old boy sitting alone in the passageway into the screening room, wrapped in a blanket, watching the movie alone at midnight. After a bit of hesitation and disbelief, I pulled up a little piece of dimly illuminated hallway with him and kept him company for the duration of the movie, trying to distract him during scary parts, and then accompanied him to the exterior hallway after the movie was over. After some lost-in-translation Spanglish, a handful of siblings appeared out of the other theatres to claim him and I went about my business, a little more disillusioned than when I had entered the theatre over three hours earlier.
But I couldn't help wondering if I made the right choice. The right choice of multiple choices available, all which raced through my mind while I made "ew" and "yuck" faces at him during the movie. Here is what you said:
- 9 of you would have done the same thing I did, which is sit with him until someone claimed him but not report it to management
- 2 of you said you would have left him alone and minded your own business
- 13 of you would have taken him to management
- 3 of you would have left him where you found him and went for management yourself
- 4 of you would have called the police
So why did I choose to do what I did?
Leaving him alone was certainly a thought that crossed my mind. More specifically, "What are you getting yourself into?" is what crossed my mind, but I was already sitting down, so there was no turning back. I never could have stopped wondering what happened to him.
Likewise, leaving him alone while I went for management was not a viable option for me because had he been gone when I returned, I would have tortured myself with doubt. Pretty much, I claimed responsibility for him from the moment I saw him and wasn't going to relinquish it until the responsibility was handed over.
That leaves us with taking him to management and/ or calling the police.
I mentioned that I am a tattle-tale, right? I not only want people to be called out for their mistakes, but to admit the mistake and make amends for them, as well. "An eye for an eye" just makes us even in my book; the punishment begins after we are even.
And no, the irony is not lost on me that I was in effect "stealing" the last 15 minutes of a movie. I went in that room with that intention, so the boy was no excuse. In fact, I routinely "steal" up to 30 minutes of movies before and after the film for which I have bought a ticket. In my defense, I never watch more than 30 minutes, because that would just be wrong. (insert the equivalent of a wink here.) I think of it as an extended preview; if 30 minutes is good, I definitely buy a ticket the next time around.
I never said that my rules are necessarily based on law. They are also subject to change without notice. I will admit that being a subject in my queendom would be challenging, at best.
Something about how comfortable this little boy appeared (in the situation, not as an audience member of Hellboy II) told me that this was not the first time he had watched a movie in this theatre at midnight by himself. He had a blanket, which just said "I came prepared" to me. Then, when his siblings appeared, everything about their relaxed demeanor told me that this was routine for them.
For the record, had no one showed up to claim him after the movie, I would have delivered him to management and stuck around until the situation was resolved. However, my initial suspicion that one of their parents must work at the theatre was confirmed when the oldest girl nodded in response to my question, "Does your mom work here?"
As far as I could tell, their mother worked the late shift at the theatre and used the movies as babysitters. This was more or less confirmed when the oldest girl said, motioning to the double sign indicating either Hellboy II or WALL-E as the movie showing on that screen, "Yeah, he always thinks that movie is WALL-E."
Given this, I could have marched them all to management, or at least to their mother, and lectured everyone involved about how wrong it is for kids their age to be out at midnight, let alone watching a horror movie. But I didn't, for the same reason I did not call the police.
What if management didn't know their mother was doing this and she was therefore fired? She would have to find another job, which around here might mean working at a casino, and then what would she do about child care? Who knows what shift she would have to take and there are far worse places for kids to be at midnight than in a movie theatre, in the same building as their mother, who can probably check in on them occasionally, should she so choose.
Look, I know this is a lot of conjecture on my part, but this was my thought process in a dark theatre, watching a scary movie, in the middle of the night with a tiny little boy I did not know. I wanted to do right by him, but doing right by him in the short term and the long were two different things. My need to make everything "right" by my book might not be "right" for his life.
By the same reasoning, had I called the police, I may have been doing more than punishing the mother for making a bad decision. If she was, in fact, an illegal immigrant, I can't imagine the consequences.
So I stayed with him until I could turn him over to someone that could claim him as their own. I didn't take him out of there because even touching him seemed like crossing a line. I didn't turn anyone in because the repercussions were more than I could reasonably predict. Instead, I tried to help him out and distract him for a short period of time during which I could reasonably predict the repercussions. Hellboy II is not a movie for toddlers, in case you were wondering.
I still don't know if what I did was right, but I thank you for your opinions. You all felt so strongly about it and it was seriously fascinating. Can you imagine what that scene would have been like had we all been there? Mad chaos, to say the least.
I still don't know if what I did was right. It felt right, but sometimes beating people over the head until they cry "Uncle!" feels right. Figuratively, not literally.
When you open yourself up to what is happening around you, it is amazing what you will find. If you just scratch the surface, you might stumble into a world of underground theatre children, for whom spending their nights at the movies may become just footnotes in the story of what their mother did to provide for them. Or for whom you may be provided a single opportunity to help and you blow it because you don't want to make things worse.
I still don't know if what I did was right.