Veruca Salt Sighted On A Bus In Canada

by admin on September 26, 2011

Have I got a whopper for you! Yesterday afternoon after a long day at work I managed to get a seat on a very crowded city bus. I have an app on my cell phone for the game Bejeweled that I like to play sometimes so I can zone out for a bit on my commute home. I settled in and pulled out my phone and began to play a game with the sound option turned off so I didn’t disturb anyone around me.

A short while later a man and his little girl, she looked to be about five years old, managed to get into the two seats behind mine (remember, this bus was extremely crowded and available seats were few and far between). The girl was in a sour mood to start off with but I couldn’t really blame her, it was so cramped in there!

After another minute or so she started to whine, “Dad! I want that. I WANT that!” At first I didn’t pay any attention and just focused on my game. Then she got even louder. That’s when I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was her dad and he said, “My daughter wants to play with your phone.”

Just like that: a flat out statement. He didn’t even bother to phrase it like a question. I stared at him for a few seconds and said, “Excuse me?” To which he replied, “My daughter wants to play that game on your phone.”  He made a jabbing gesture toward my cell with his index finger and looked at me expectantly, like it was obvious I should just hand it over to her.

“No, I don’t think so”,  I replied, and turned back to my forward-facing position. She started complaining again about how unfair I was being and he tapped my shoulder again, a bit harder the second time. “It’ll only be for a few minutes. It’s a kid’s game anyway!”,  he grumbled.

I turned back to him and said straight out, “Kid’s game or not I’m not giving her my phone.” To this she started wailing at the top of her lungs and her dad stared at me like he wanted to punch me.

Again I turn back to facing forward in my seat and tried to ignore them. “Why is she being mean?!”, the girl cried. Her dad responded with, “I don’t know, Honey, some people are just really rude.”

Thank goodness my stop was only a few streets away at that point. I couldn’t wait to get off that bus!   0920-11

I just love (not) how crass, rude people redefine rudeness to be any behavior or action that deprives them of what they want by entitlement.

Veruca Salt, for those unfamiliar with the name, is a child character in the book and movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” who demands that her father give her whatever she wants, regardless of who owns it.

{ 118 comments… read them below or add one }

mstigerlily September 28, 2011 at 10:31 am

OMG. Kid’s game or not I am NOT going to lend you, a complete stranger, my expensive phone to play with. I will give you directions to the nearest cellphone store though…

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Enna September 28, 2011 at 10:47 am

I like Lia’s point about not taking things from strangers.

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--E September 28, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Technically, Veruca Salt expected her father to purchase what she wanted. And Mr. Salt would have offered the OP wads of cash for her phone.

Whenever I am faced with rude children, I address them directly. The parents are at that point irrelevant. So far, every child has been so stunned to have a grown-up speak plainly to them that they just clammed up.

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--E September 28, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Another Alice said: “But then YOU lose when you do end up feeling bad and giving it to them.”

I don’t. I have a very firmly established sense that other people’s children are not my children, and therefore not my problem. This means that I:

1. Don’t get to punish them if they are misbehaved.
2. Don’t have to treat them the way their parents would.
3. Don’t have to be responsible for their wants, needs, and behavior.

I treat children more gently than adults, but I treat them like sentient beings who are lacking experience, not intelligence. This has never failed to produce the desired response from the child.

Strangers’ children are strangers to me. I would save them from danger, but I’m not going to parent them. When I want a child to raise, I’ll get one of my own.

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Athena C September 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm

@MellowedOne –

“As a side note, I cringe whenever I see parents hand their expensive phones over to their kids to quiet them.”

Why? It works miraculously to keep them entertained. Plus – as an adult, I have dropped my expensive phone more often than my kids have dropped it. Which is why I invested a whole $10 in a protective cover so it has survived (so far).

If it truly makes you cringe, as you say, then please tell me you’re not one of those people that sees it as their sacred right not to see or hear anyone’s children under any circumstances. If these parents you see didn’t hand their kids their phones, one possible alternative is a noisy kid; while it may be okay with you, I can guarantee you that parent will be verbally assaulted by at least one random stranger to “do something” about their kid.

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anonymous October 1, 2011 at 4:29 am

I of course wouldn’t have given the kid my phone either. Not THAT kid.

But if a cute kid was looking at a game on my phone with interested eyes and sitting next to me (not behind me where I wouldn’t even notice) and – this is important – did not actually ask or demand to play with my phone – I would probably let the kid see the phone under my supervision and play a game with him/her together.

But this is just me – nobody is obligated to do that. Also, I live in Asia where that would be a more normal thing to do.

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MellowedOne October 3, 2011 at 8:52 pm

@Athena C,

My reasons are varied, but I suppose the primary one is that it’s a poor substitute for what the child really needs…personal attention. He or she may need some reassurance, comforting, or even some good old fashioned discipline, depending on the circumstance.

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Athena C October 3, 2011 at 11:48 pm

@MellowedOne,

I have seen those parents, too. I guess what I see the most is just normal kids who get plenty of attention who just happen to be having an off day. Let’s be honest – having to deal with public transport (or a plane!) with a kid who’s overdue for a nap isn’t something any of the parent manuals were written for. In that situation a fancy gadget can be a lifesaver for a half-hour or so.

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MellowedOne October 4, 2011 at 2:55 pm

@Athena C,

I know exactly what you’re talking about. Been there, done that! Every child has their days where something isn’t right, and boy do they let it be known!

True, use of fancy gadgets to placate them can work wonders, but to me can be the start of a bad habit, where occasional use turns into habitual use, done so out of convenience’s sake. Quite often a ‘quick fix’ has undesirable long term effects. These should be considered as well.

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Asharah October 7, 2011 at 9:26 am

The thought occurred to me that you are better off running into Veruca Salt than if you ran into Rhoda Penmark. At least if you want to make it off the bus without having a tragic accident. LOL!

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sophie October 25, 2011 at 11:53 pm

The same thing happened to me some 10 years ago with a Furby keychain on my backpack.

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Erin December 13, 2011 at 5:14 pm

This happened to me recently in the waiting room of my son’s speech therapist. I pulled out the phone to let him play and a smaller boy came over and tried to grab it. I told the other child that he was welcome to look on but that my son is a lot older than him and therefore less likely to drop the phone. Really, what I meant was that he is allowed to play with it because he is my son and I wouldn’t hand my phone to some strange kid, but we are in the south so of course I couldn’t say that. Anyway, luckily the mother just told her kid to come over to her and stop bothering me, and now she won’t let any of her kids come near us, which is no loss. I’m lucky she didn’t get nasty with me, I guess. I feel like she should have told him not to bother me before he had a chance to ask for my phone and be denied, but like I said, it could have gone worse.

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Kate January 4, 2012 at 6:24 am

OP, I just wanted to allocate you a place in Etiquette Heaven for keeping the sound off on your game while you played! I have misophonia, which is an extreme sensitivity to certain sounds, and the noise of games like that on a long train or tram ride can affect me so badly that I have to change carriages or get on the next tram. I really appreciate when people have the courtesy to keep the sound low (same applies for people who listen to music at such a volume that everyone else can hear it).

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Katje May 29, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Wow…nice parenting…not. That “father” is teaching the child that it’s okay to demand stuff that’s not hers and that it’s okay to be an spoiled entitled brat! I don’t blame you for not wanting to give some stranger and his kid your phone because they demand it. I’d do the same thing to or just ignore them to be honest. Sorry but it’s my phone and I can do with it and give it to whoever I damn well please.

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justme June 23, 2012 at 11:58 am

I think my reply would be “That’s too bad. I would really like your daughter to stop asking for things that aren’t hers. I suppose that neither of us are going to get what we want today.”

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Teddah July 14, 2012 at 4:00 am

Wow some parents … I let my niece play with my expensive phone and trust me I’ve dropped it more than her. I switched phones and am going to a party so I’m going to let her play with her favorite phone since it takes pictures and videos to keep her both entertained and see a baby shower (she’ll be an aunt) from a 5 year old’s point of view. I am very blunt even when it might be offensive but I figure if a stranger is blunt enough to be rude to me why can’t I be blunt back. I’m a legal adult and it’s my choice.

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erica September 11, 2012 at 8:21 am

Entitlement much?

I think the response was dead on.
I would have had to really hold my tongue on the “people are just rude” comment.

In fact I doubt I would have not turned around and asked “I want your wallet”.
why?
“because I do”
and when he refuses point out ….see we don’t always get what we want and it isn’t my responsibility to entertain another persons child.

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CommuterVeteran September 19, 2012 at 3:43 am

Oh do not ask someone for their wallet Erica, you could be removed at the next stop by the police… I do not kid. I have ridden enough urban commuter buses to know….

If the parent asked for the phone and the kid is screaming I want that, I would have told her directly. “No.” I would have told the parent, “Go buy your own phone and put the app on it. I have not met you before today and I do not hand over my phone to anyone.”

If he continued about how rude I was, I might have continued. “The only rude is believing that whatever you want you can have, anytime and anywhere just because you want it.” Then I would have pocketed the phone and moved, even if I had to stand at the front of the bus at the stand line.

That phone was my investment as was the apps on it, it costs me to have it, and it’s not going anywhere….

One more question… if I owned the phone and actually did hand it over… if she dropped it and broke the phone, then what? Bet father would tell me to suck it up.
And one more question after that… what if Precious was enamored with the phone game and didn’t want to give it back and it was my stop? Then what?

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