Posts Tagged ‘behavior’

Watch Words

24 October 2010

Dear J-

I suppose it’s in poor taste to carry it around* but watching what’s as close to instant karma in action today makes me want to take note. At SeaWorld San Diego, they have what’s called the Bay of Play (with a friendly Sesame Street theme) where kids of all ages will find something that they enjoy doing; for figgy, there’s the three rides (Abby’s Sea Star Spin; Elmo’s Flying Fish; Oscar’s Rockin’ Eel, all of which forbid expectant mothers, so I get to ride on those a lot lately) and lately, the cargo net and the bounce area (which for some reason puts me in mind of Finding Nemo‘s sponge beds). That particular bounce area has specific rules: no shoes, no shoving, six kids at a time. As crowd control, there’s a switchback-line with a fence. When we were walking up a couple ran over and the dad boosted the kids over the fence, cutting off the people who were walking around it in order to get their kids in first.

It’s really not that big of a deal — the lines were still short, and you’d only have to wait another two or three minute cycle, but that was odious, and the wrong lesson, besides — push your way forward, take every advantage you can get. So the kids get into the very next cycle but here’s the catch, they get split up because of that six-kid rule, some get to go now and others have to wait. The mom comes up and strenously argues with the attendant to no avail (that six-kid rule is as bold as day, posted there at the entrance) and the incredible thing is that another mom offers to pull one of her kids out of the current group (it’s clear that the kid doesn’t want to go, he’s scared). Even with that incredible generosity the first mom is dissatisfied and asks the operator if the kids in the bounce structure can essentially go twice, not having to leave for the next go-round. The operator sticks to the rules and says sure, as long as they all go back to the end of the line.

Once the session is over, that mom huffily pulls all the kids out, muttering about the unfairness of the situation. No one’s pointed out that they cut in line in the first place, and really, she’s only punishing her kids and not the operator. There’s all kinds of people at SeaWorld who’ll push their kids in front of you and then stare right through you as if you don’t exist. I don’t make a scene primarily because I’m not bold enough to, but also because it’s really not a big deal, and especially not big enough to freak kids out over. But kids learn everything you do, and when they expect your worst, that’s the best they’ll hope for.


* The Zen story I’m thinking of comes from Jon Muth’s Zen Shorts. I prefer this version to the other ones I’ve read, primarily because the other versions talk about how monks are forbidden to touch women, making it a failing of the monk rather than that of the passenger. Anyhow, the story:

Two monks are traveling together, one old, one young. They come across a lady in a sedan chair whose bearers have gotten stuck in some mud and even as she’s screaming at them to get loose, she’s also yelling for someone to come and take her someplace dry, she’s getting wet, all her finery slowly running in the rain.

The younger monk wants no part of it and hurries by, but the older monk stops, rolls up his pants, and waddles over, carries her to a roadside shelter, helps the attendants out, and generally acts like a one-man Automobile Association, getting them back on their way while the younger monk fumes a bit. Without a word, the lady’s party dismisses the monk and they continue their journey.

And the younger monk keeps fuming the further they go, almost as if distance multiplies his frustration until he explodes. “Brother, we didn’t have to stop. We didn’t have to help! And she never said an ounce of thanks!”

The older monk turns to his companion and asks “Brother, I set her down hours ago. Why are you still carrying her?”


Zoo Peeve

20 June 2009

Dear J-

I try not to, but sometimes the judgmental side of me pops up:  folks at the zoo, camera lens manufacturers gave you a hood for a reason, stop leaving them reversed on the lens for storage.  Oh, and take off the lens cap while you’re at it — it’s not like there’s front-element-smearing gremlins who run around smudging your lenses when you’re holding the camera.  If you’re going to invest in huge lenses and fancy cameras, also, that doesn’t give you the instant pass to jostle your way to the front of the crowd — wait your turn, or buy an even fancier lens so that you can stand back a little further.  Etiquette.  The animals aren’t going anywhere (or if they are, they’ll be back).  You’re not looking to publish for profit (that violates the ticket agreement — you did read the ticket agreement, didn’t you?), so chill out; it’s the zoo.  Maybe that kid behind you would get a bigger kick out of seeing the tiger than you will once you bring the picture home and chortle over it with glee.

Various dreams of justice make the rounds in the empty attic upstairs I try to call a mind, but if I don’t take action, am I just as culpable as them?  Besides which, zoo photographs tend towards a certain sameness; sort of like shooting farmed fish — in a barrel — with a howitzer.