Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sick Kids In Public/Neglectful Parents

Ever since I was little, I observed many idiots insisting that there is no reason not to bring their ill children into public places. Not talking about a sick kid with a glob of bubbling snot hanging from his nose like a demented clone of Bloonies or SuperElasticBubblePlastic.

I'm talking about green in the face, dry heaving and puking kids. I remember my dad, sister and myself sitting in the car waiting for my mom to come out of Hancock Fabrics when we notice a girl, small child and their mom running out of the store...The girl, crying, just makes it to the curb and the next thing we see is puke. The poor girl is obviously humiliated from puking in public, but her mom adds insult to injury. She pops her in the back of the head, grabs her by the hand and drags her through the parking lot screaming at her each time she vomits all the way to their station wagon. As I watched, I could do nothing but sit in the car, giggling to myself, thinking better her than me since my dad had pretty much the same bedside manner. My sister is the sort of person that hears or sees someone vomit and she pukes also, I'm sort of like that to some degree. I can still hear my sister's voice ringing through the silence of the car "THAT is disgusting" before closing her eyes and possibly imagining something other than the puddles of vomit in the Hancock parking lot. It was a scene so typical of ignorant redneck parenting of the 1980's, because you know, beating a sick child will make them better.

After I moved to Atlanta in 1997, I found myself working at Borders Books, Music and Cafe. I didn't have the good sense to request evening shifts so I'd work a good bit of mornings when parents, babysitters and nannies brought in their too small for school children. We had our share of ignorant parents that were "regular" customers but one unfortunate child of an ignorant parent became our store's nightmare for one particular shift. I recognized this man and his son as morning regulars that would come in for a newspaper, coffee and a milk and leave. This day, the man decided to slowly browse the store with his coffee. By the way, the kid sucked his milk down within ten feet of the counter of the cafe. As they get to the back of the store we hear hurl/splash followed by a child crying and his dad saying "Come on, we'll come back" which was followed by the dad asking "Are you SURE, you're OK?" The manager on duty, a woman named Kim, ran over and poured half a box of kitty litter looking stuff on the milky mess and searched for an unfortunate soul that could clean the mess. NOT ME!!! I only made $6.50 an hour and my $4 Big Mac meal from the night before was already threatening to show itself again. A weird bookworm type named Marla with a bowl haircut, who lived with her parents and whose age could have been mid 20's on up to her 50's but no one could figure out, got the honor of playing janitor. Fifteen minutes later, we notice the man and sick child are still in the store and as he passes each employee, he assures them his son is OK. They get to the register, where Marla happens to be assigned for that hour and me back at my post in the music department reorganizing the new release fixture. As Marla rings up the man's items, we hear an echo of a hurl and splash throughout the store followed by the man saying "He said he was feeling better." He then, left the items he was about to purchase on the counter and proceeded to the exit.

A hot summer night in 2013, I'm working in section 1 in the "Art Room" at Chuy's, a closing section with a four top and an eight top table as well as two four top booths. My friend Angela is right next to me in section two, with a four top table, six top booth and a four top booth known as table six. The shift is going rather well and as smooth as a shift at that restaurant could possibly have gone on a Friday night. The art room has doors that lead to the patio that constantly open and close, letting out cool air or letting in the hot air. Someone had complained about the A/C blowing on them so the manager turned the A/C to where it wasn't on...It was over 76 degrees in that room, every table was filled to capacity and there was fajita steam that wasn't dissipating. I am greeting a table that just got sat, getting their drink and appetizer order when I hear a hurl and a quick splash but I know better than to turn around. It took my table a minute more to order their drinks, I see another table in Angela's section get up to be sat in another area, and her six top booth just be sat. Then it happens, the odor mixed with the heat of the room and the fajita steam and what permeated in the room was unmistakable...SOMEONE PUKED and it was NOT good. I power walked out of the room and found Angela getting to go boxes for table six where a child vomited on the table. The mother had ordered fajitas for two which had been delivered about the time that the child puked. I looked into the room, the vomit smell was obvious, the people at table five, the 6 top booth, was looking around not knowing whether to get up or stay. The mother at the puke ridden table is salvaging her fajitas, which were mildly contaminated with her kid's puke, transferring them into to go boxes. They leave but the smell remains. Our busser, Jesus...the saint of Chuy's bussers, cleared the table but left the vomit. I am neglecting the nineteen people among my four tables because every time I caught a whiff of the art room air, I dry heaved. So Jesus, comes back to finish cleaning the table with a squeegee and a bus tub, there's nothing like seeing someone swipe vomit into a bus tub. The very same squeegee the dishwasher uses by the way. Angela sanitizes the table, the salt, pepper, sugar caddy, the booth seats and the smell remained in the air. I refused to walk in the room, leaving my customers to their own devices in the vomit room. Luckily, Angela remembered she had Febreze spray in her car, ran out and got it. She sprayed a more than liberal amount into the air of the art room which would help me to go back in without fear of hurling all over one of my four tables. After a minute or so, the Febreze smell overpowered the vomit smell and our shift resumed and new people at table six that had no clue what happened there fifteen minutes prior to them sitting down. We never mentioned what happened to our other tables but it was obvious. What really killed me, was the woman took her slightly vomited on fajitas home with her, to enjoy later. I asked Angela if the kid looked sick before it happened but she really didn't know. Unfortunately, as strangers, we can't tell much about people we don't know. However, you would think a parent would have an inkling that they have a sick child, especially if it says "I feel like I'm going to throw up."

For what reason would it be OK to take your sick kids out in public and feel it's acceptable to stay out in public for an extended amount of time with that kid? Sick kids belong at home in their bed with a bucket and cool wash cloth next to them.

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