So the baseball game was fine. The Astros hit lots of home runs. The Red Sox are fundamentally terrible. All went as expected.
What wasn’t expected, however, was the sheer violent rage I experienced toward some old man before the game.
A little boy of about 6 is standing in line next to us outside the stadium. On one hand he has a baseball glove, and he’s holding his father’s hand with the other. He’s got his Astros shirt on, an orange “H” cap pulled down low…he’s ready for a ball game.
They get to the front of the line.
“Okay, son. Give her your ticket.”
“Where… What’d you do with your ticket?”
The boy remains quiet for a moment, then his head lowers, his arms go slack by his sides, and he starts to sob. He has, apparently, just lost his ticket. In his little mind, not only are they not going to get to see the Astros, but his dad is going to be angry with him because he didn’t do as he was told. (Namely, hang on to his ticket.) In an instant his day went from being super awesome, to the worst day ever.
People in line witness this, and immediately start looking around for the kid’s ticket. Fortunately it was still on the ground a few feet behind them. They quickly reassure the little boy that everything is okay and that he’ll still get to see the game. He continues to sob, but his tone and demeanor changes slightly.
Now he’s embarrassed.
Because not only did he fail to do what his daddy asked of him, a bunch of strangers just found out that he’d screwed up. I remember feeling that kind of shame at his age. It’s crushing.
You might be wondering where exactly in all of this I became so pissed off.
Next to me in line was a man in his late 60’s, wearing a brand new Red Sox cap. After glaring at the front of the line during the whole exchange, he offered the following,
“Are you kidding me? C’mon! You’re holding up the damn line!”
Yes, he screamed that at a crying child who just wanted to get into a baseball game.
I stared at him, dumbfounded for a moment. Then anger began to flicker up my sides and along my arms. We were two ‘effing hours early for the game; it wasn’t like he’s going to miss something. My fists clenched. And I took one step toward him with the intent of discussing how one should react to a crying child in a polite society, and how to do otherwise might remand someone to in-patient at the nearest ER. There’s a saying about the polarity between lovers and fighters…
It’s wrong; you can be both.
But then I looked down, and saw the man’s grandson standing next to him.
Because if I continued, and accosted this asshole like he deserved, I would become the scary, mean man at the ballpark. Fear would beget fear, and I’d become what I beheld. So I clenched my fists tighter, turned back toward the front of the line and tried to calm myself while awaiting my turn at the turnstile.
Ahead, the ticket had been returned to the crying boy. He handed it up to the agent without looking at her, she scanned it, and he very carefully put it deep into the pocket of his shorts. Then he reached up and clutched his father’s hand again, and they walked into the ballpark together.
Obviously I’m more sensitive to these things now that I’m a father, but I’d like to think that even 22-year-old Jeremiah would have reacted in a similar fashion to such douchebaggery. But if I’m in my 60’s, like this guy was, how could I not have known better?