It was a warm summer day in 2017 when my family got the craving for some pizza. No normal delivery-chain pizza would do; no, we wanted something special. Something customizable. We wanted Pizza Artista. But of course, we didn’t all want to go sit and eat AT the restaurant – we wanted to stuff our faces in the comfort of our own home. So I volunteered as tribute and took it upon myself to drive over there and retrieve some dinner.
It was getting into the early evening, a time we refer to as “the witching hour.” A time when Rascal Mae comes out of her coffin and begins to conjure up new and different forms of torture for her parents. Despite this, I thought it would be a good idea to strap her into the car and allow her to grace Pizza Artista with her presence.
How wrong I was. How awfully, tragically wrong.
As we reached the counter with the twelve-foot glass sneeze shield – you know, the one that keeps the general public from breathing on the ingredients – my child chose this exact moment to reach out and grip the top of the glass with all her four-year-old strength, giggling maniacally. Then, she pulled.
I visualized the entire sheet of glass crashing to the ground, shards flying onto the patrons and into the anchovies. My mind racing, I attempted to pry her fingers from the glass while maintaining my cool and placing our order. As I worked each tiny finger free from its death grip, she howled in protest.
The employee was as sweet as pie, smiling and asking me to repeat myself a few times as she could not hear me over the feral cat fighting to get away from me. Arms were flailing, the front of the counter pummeled by flying feet, and I felt the eyes of the diners burning into my back.
Employee: “Does everything on this pizza look correct?”
Me: “Yes, it looks great!”
Inner Me: For the love of God, woman, just put the pizza in the oven and fire it up so I can get out of here.
Rascal: “I HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!”
Finally, after I’d aged at least five years, the pizzas were ready. I grabbed the three boxes from the counter, balanced my drink on top, and we headed for the door. It seemed like we were out of the woods.
Again … How wrong I was.
I opened one of the double doors with my free hand and we made it halfway out. Halfway. Because then, right that very moment, Rascal Mae decided that she wanted to dine in instead of carry out. She wrapped one arm around the still-closed door (which is also glass – why is there so much glass!?) and parked herself, screeching in protest.
I looked around and realized there was no flat surface within arm’s reach upon which I could place these pizzas.
I also realized that I couldn’t let go of the one door, without it slamming on my shrieking offspring.
I was stuck.
I scanned the restaurant with pleading eyes. I needed help. There was literally nothing I could do except stand there and let my child wail at the top of her lungs unless someone helped me with the pizzas or the door. I noticed a LOT of people staring. I noticed one mom sharply telling her own kid to turn around and stop staring. I noticed a lady holding a slice of pizza in the air, mid-bite, as she sat with her mouth agape. I noticed a lot of people uncomfortably looking away.
And to really put the icing on the cake, I lost my grip on the pizza boxes and my drink toppled over, the lid detached, and drenched me from head to toe. Then, to add insult to injury, the empty cup landed face-up on the ground at my feet.
I cannot make this up, y’all.
At this point, I started to feel the hot stinging tears welling up. I was about to cry and I had no choice but to stand there, sticky and soaked, until Rascal Mae decided she was done making a spectacle. I was about to give up hope completely when I heard a voice. A kid, about 12 or 13, asked “Ma’am? Do you need some help?”
I burst into tears, handed him the pizzas, and picked my child up in a fireman’s carry. This young man followed me to my car as I tossed the screaming bundle into the backseat and took the pizzas from him, trembling and thanking him profusely. After thrashing around for ten minutes, Rascal finally settled into her car seat and we were able to leave the scene of the crime. By now, I’d lost my appetite.
The moral of the story?
Out of every single woman in that restaurant, not ONE of them helped me.
I’d like to think the young man was in there with his mother who encouraged him to go help “that poor lady.” But I can’t be sure. What I AM sure of is this:
MAMAS, WE CAN DO BETTER.
We have all “abandoned the shopping cart” in one way or another, at one time or another. We’ve all BEEN the mom with the screaming child, and we’ve all SEEN the mom with the screaming child. So why do we continue to act like these moms are invisible? Why do we hug the side of the Target aisle and avert our eyes when we see Meltdown City coming our way? What are we so afraid of? What’s the worst that could happen – you ask the mom if she needs help, and she snaps at you that she’s fine? I’d bet that nine times out of ten, the Mom Who Clearly Needs Help will be relieved that you asked. And if she’s rude, oh well. That’s on her. You did your good deed of the day.