Honed, sharpened, maybe by years of negative experiences.
I was speechless.
Not totally unusual for the real, shy, introverted child in me.
I know at that moment I sure felt like a child.
She had shamed me.
My daughter’s and I had driven to Austin for the day.
My youngest was playing in a volleyball tournament and my oldest wanted to watch and take some time to shop in Austin during the “down” time of the tournament.
We arrived to a packed house.
The morning “wave” of volleyball play was finishing up and we had to wait for the limited seating to turn over.
If you didn’t get there early enough, it was certain to be “standing room only.”
I was very glad that my eldest and I were able to grab two seats on the front row, next to some of our other team parents.
But there were hawks circling every moment of the day, waiting to land on any open seat that appeared between games.
Once our team was done with their first match, my spectator daughter decided… it was time to shop.
She gathered her things and I handed off my keys.
She would be back before the third match began and bring dinner for her sister.
I set my backpack on the seat next to me, as I wanted to save her seat.
I was not the only parent or spectator doing this… so why did it bother me so much.
Why was I feeling guilty for taking two seats.
So when I was approached by a gentleman, asking if the seat was available, my heart softened and I decided to let someone sit there… with the warning that my daughter would return.
He was so grateful.
The seat was actually for his wife who had been sitting on the cold, hard tile and needed relief for her posterior side. (been there!)
He walked away to tell her and upon her arrival, I made it very clear that this was my daughter’s seat, and she had gone to run errands, but would return to watch her sister play.
“Ms. Posterior” was smiling and nodding, “I am just glad to be off that floor for a while,” she sighed, rubbing her backside.
And we exchanged a few pleasantries.
Our daughters were not playing at the same time, so she had a good seat “just in time” to watch.
I felt better about “not” saving my seat.
At least it would go to good use in my daughters’ absence and I wouldn’t have to endure the selfish ache inside.
When it came time for her return, my eldest texted that she was on the way back and, as promised, bringing dinner to nourish and energize her sister for more play.
Now for the hard part.
I had to give the bad news to Ms. Posterior.
I kind of chuckled aloud and said, “Oh, my daughter’s on her way back.”
I started to move my personal belongings under my chair, as if making room for her.
Hoping “Ms. P” would get the hint, I followed up with, “I wonder when she will get here?”
Ok. I’m clearly speaking to no one at this point, but there are people sitting around me. They all probably think I’m crazy… maybe you’ve made this move too… but “Ms. P?” She didn’t budge.
I turned to another parent from our team and announced to her that my eldest daughter was on the way back… and I was glad I saved a seat for her.
We had a brief, but loud enough conversation… “Ms. P” did not flinch.
Guess I’m going to just have to face this.
So I got up… and went to the bathroom.
Real gutsy, I know!
But I needed a talk with myself and a moment to clear my head and heart….
I prayed… yes in the bathroom… asking God to please let this be easy. I prayed that I would be kind and gracious, tenderhearted… just like the verse I had been memorizing.
Isn’t God great to let us face something like this when we are memorizing a verse?
…be kind to each other, tenderhearted,
forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Ummm, well, didn’t feel like it today… kind and tenderhearted.
I felt empty and weird. I didn’t honestly know what was “right” in this situation.
But, I headed back to my seat… not ready, but set, on the gentle confrontation.
After settling in my chair, I turned to her… “Ms. P” (of course I didn’t call her that).
“My daughter is on her way back from the errands I mentioned earlier. So she will be needing a place to sit, again. I know that your daughter is currently playing, so we will be happy to let you stay in the seat until her game is over.” … smiling, smiling…
And… nothing from “Ms. P.”
She honestly said nothing.
Not even an, “umm-hmmm,” like affirmation that she got the point.
She just looked at me blankly like I was speaking another language.
So I stretched my neck and looked over the crowd, as if I was looking for my daughter.
I moved my stuff around under my seat… again.
Well, her daughter was still playing, so…
Enter my eldest.
She began to nudge her way in front of the crowd, not knowing about the “taken seat issue,” trying to make her way to me.
I got up and quickly met her near the end of the row.
I quietly explained the situation and told her that we could just sit behind the bleachers until her sister was up to play next.
My eldest was not pleased.
One last effort to kindly make my point, I went back to my seat and put my backpack in the chair. I said to the other team parent, “My daughter and I will just be back behind the bleachers until this game is over. Then when our game starts, and we have two seats, we will come back.
And without a glance from “Ms. P,” I quietly walked away.
When it was time for our team to warm up, we headed back to our seat(s).
I stood at the end of the row and watched as several people moved about.
“Ms. P” sat completely still, staring straight ahead.
I don’t want to get mad.
I don’t want to be rude.
Maybe this is selfish of me.
I honestly was having an intense internal struggle.
I just wasn’t showing it on the outside.
Should I just let this lady take my seat?
Maybe that was the right thing to do?
I did want to watch my youngest play her last two games, one being the championship.
And I knew if I gave my seat up to my eldest and opted to stand, she would not sit alone, next to “Ms. P.”
My eldest nudged me forward.
We walked toward our seat(s)
Not one glance from “Ms. P.”
Truly, this was a weird situation.
So I sat… and my eldest sat in my lap.
It was a plan she had forged behind the bleachers, which I had hoped to never need.
I was silent while she voiced her frustration.
It was, after all, her seat that was taken.
My eldest figured she’d just wait it out.
“Ms. P” had to give in.
Our team was about to play.
I decided on one last run to the bathroom.
This time for necessity.
I had honestly given up on negotiation.
But as I returned to the row, I was met at the end by “Ms. P.”
She had this hard, cold stare that seared right through me.
“I just don’t think it’s right that a person can leave a crowded event like this for two hours and come back, expecting to have a seat, just saved for them. This is ridiculous.”
And with one last stare of judgment, she turned on her heel and walked off.
I stood silent.
Not knowing what to say, as if she really gave me the option.
I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be upset, guilty, angry, or relieved.
I mean, I did have my seats back.
But my heart was heavy.
Her stone cold stare, had left it’s mark.
I have been contemplating this for a few days now, honestly.
Not beating myself up as much as wondering if I was really supposed to feel guilty or selfish.
I mean, sometimes you can only do so much to help an angry negative person.
I am sincerely trying NOT to rationalize my behavior.
But I was honest with this woman up front and I tried to be generous.
It seems that stony hearts are just not absorbent.
Kindess rolls right off.
I would value you your comments.
Please let me know, in a kind and sincere way, what you think.
… consider I’m not stony… it won’t roll off of me.