People Watching

Dinner last night was grand, nothing like the early bird at a Rusty Bucket.  The poor server.  It took us forever to even order; we couldn’t stop talking long enough to even look down at the menu.  I never fail to be amazed at how well we fall back into step despite not having spoken or seen each other for months on end.  Most of my trustworthy girlfriends are from high school, one way or another; she’s the only person I really formed a lasting friendship with in college.  Ahh, those were the days.  We worked together/for the same tool in a lab on the Air Force base.  I remember being THRILLED to death to have another woman in the lab when she started.  Not that the guys I was working with were at all unpleasant, but…I dunno.  ‘Twas a weird atmosphere; eventually made me realize how lucky I’d been up to that point to have never really experienced blatant sexism, that I’d really noticed anyway.  For the life of me I’m not sure why this guy even hired women; he probably had to as some requirement of the program through SOCHE (which I cannot recommend highly enough – wonderful way for college kids to get PAID experience in their chosen field), because he tried or felt it was best to keep us on beaker-washing duty rather than running reactions, etc…anyway, beside the point.  She has an older sister, so despite being a year younger than me she’s all about the eighties hairband music.  Still cracks me up thinking of the day she walked into the lab wearing a sleeveless Ratt t-shirt and hair as big as the sky.  She totally pulls this kind of look off, but I could not help but laugh and I had to ask if it was supposed to be ironic.  Hilarious.  Love.  Just…nothing like sitting for a couple hours and speaking geek with someone who gets it!

So we weren’t doing much people watching last night, but I did want to also make note of one thing that’s been sort of bothering me…the other night I met a friend at a Steak n Shake for dinner.  While waiting to be seated, I of course did some people watching.  I can’t help myself, I just have to check people out.  Anyway, this little girl started smiling and waving at me over her dad(? I assume)’s shoulder.  I’m stumped at first…do I know this kid?  Not that I can recall…do I know the adults she’s with?  No…definitely not.  Not sure exactly how little of a kid she was, maybe seven or eight – well beyond the toddler age of smiling, flirting, waving with every friendly face that goes by.  Kids that age are not supposed to seek out faces in a crowd and display that kind of random trust.  Like, my CASA kid who gave me a great big hug the second time we met, and introduced me to her friend with “she’s a nice lady.”  Huge red flag – you don’t know me yet, you should have no reason to trust me, I could be the meanest lady you’ll ever meet.  It’s just not right when kids prefer the unknown to the known.  So anyway, I continue to observe, looks like she’s having dinner with dad and grandma…they are both completely ignoring her, she continues to look right at me, smile, wave, etc., sort of sneakily, as if she knows she’ll be admonished if she got caught…but she didn’t, of course.  I smile back, wave back, etc.  Cute as shit, she was…but breaking my heart.  I hope I’m just flat out wrong, that she was going home to a safe place, that all this CASA crap has just made me overly paranoid.  Nothing I can do about it anyway.  I can’t save the world, gotta let it go.  Le sigh.  Hmmm.  I thought I’d get through this without the need to insert a song, but apparently not.  I may need some new music.      

Nature, nurture, heaven and home
Sum of all and by them driven
To conquer every mountain shown
But have never crossed the river
Braved the forest braved the stone
Braved the icy winds and fire
Braved and beat them on my own
Yet I’m helpless by the river

Angel, angel what have I done?
I’ve faced the quakes the wind, the fire
I’ve conquered country, crown, and throne
Why can’t I cross this river?

Pay no mind to the battles you’ve won
It’ll take a lot more than rage and muscle
Open your heart and hands my son
Or you’ll never make it over the river
It’ll take a lot more than words and guns
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we’ll cross the river

(lyrics via)

No way.  Well, that’s fitting – Mike just showed me this:  Great-grandparents return to child-rearing and this:  Responsibility interrupts retirement.  Gulp.  He sat on that jury.  I don’t think I ever knew her name.  Sarenity.  Hearing that story at the time is more than half the reason I thought CASA sounded like a good idea when I heard about it.  So I guess it still is, even if it makes me a bit overly paranoid and sappy.  Yikes.  What is wrong with people?      

2 thoughts on “People Watching

  1. suntzusays says:

    Hmm. Usually I assume children stare at and try to become friendly with adults without making too many proclamations about their probable relationships with parents. As a tall person, I'm used to being stared up at for example. But if their guardians are oblivious to their attentions, that may be a cause of alarm. I guess. It could also be that the child hasn't inherited the surly disinterest of the guardians and still retains the curiosity and friendly disposition of a child. If I were seeing abuse instead of neglect, I'd be more concerned.

  2. Yes, I'm going to keep thinking I was just overthinking. I'm also familiar with being stared at by small people, even being short. This just struck me as a very different kind of thing, but hopefully I'm way off. I sort of purposely didn't describe the adults' demeanors…added to the creepiness but book, cover, etc. It's not as though I saw any abuse or neglect, just…something off.

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