It's tradition for our family to go visit Santa at the mall once per year. We all dress up in our nicer clothes that my wife picks out for all of us, and head over so that we can get pictures and such. Last year, we switched malls, going from the most crowded mall in the area that charges you a minimum of $35 to get any pictures taken, instead choosing to go to a nearby outdoor mall where the pictures are free, lines a lot less, and we've had better experiences with Santa.
The Santa experience we found is sort of a diamond in the rough, so to speak, but it still does get busy. Santa comes for only a few hours per day, and on the day we had decided to go (Sunday), it was a relatively nice day and we knew that it would likely get busy.
The mall itself opened at noon, and Santa was set to arrive at 1pm. Our plan was that my wife would take the kids to a shop where we have a membership where the kids can build with Lego and other blocks, and I would hold a spot in line.
We arrived around 12:10pm and I was the first person in the area. There's a small gazebo type building where Santa does his thing, and the line forms outside. There's a grassy area in the middle and walkways and benches along either side.
As I was the first person there, I thought it would be fine to sit down on the bench and relax. Within 15 minutes, three other guys showed up and we all laughed that we were the dads holding down the fort. The other three guys also decided that sitting down was fine and we were all cool.
My wife called to make sure everything was good and I told her that there were just a couple of us there and that we were first in line with about 30 minutes to go!
Here She Comes, To Wreck The Day! (Or Try To)
A few minutes later, a woman (hereby known as Rudiepants) arrived with her two children. She was on the phone yelling about something.
Rudiepants looked at all of us, and proceeded to walk up in front of the gazebo and stand there.
The four of us guys looked at each other, and we decided that it was probably time to get the line going so we all stood up and walked over, starting to form a line along one of the walkways.
Around this time, a couple of other people arrived that obviously knew Rudiepants, another woman (I'm guessing her sister) with her child, and an older lady, I'm thinking the kids grandmother.
The older woman noticed that the four of us guys were forming a line and pointed out that she thought that we were there first.
Rudiepants snapped: “What? I've been doing this for years and this is where the line starts. They were sitting on benches, and if they were sitting on benches, they weren't in line.”
She didn't look at any of us, and neither of the women she was with said anything back, though you could tell they were embarrassed.
The four of us guys looked at one another, all with that same look on our faces like “Is this woman for real?”
She was. She stood there and staked her place in line.
Why I Didn't Say Anything To Her
None of us guys said anything to her or challenged her on it. Of course the thought crossed my mind, but I immediately figured a few things:
- It wasn't worth it to me. Santa was coming at 1:00. This would put us just a few minutes later. I wasn't in a big hurry, although Rudiepants certainly was.
- My good mood was important. I knew that any confrontation, no matter how it turned out, would put a sour spin on the day. Although she was clearly already in that sour spot, I just let it go.
- Her kids were there. I had no interest in calling her out in front of her children. I just find that in poor taste. Her kids will eventually figure things out for themselves.
- Her mind was made up. You could just tell by Rudiepants attitude that there was no way her mind was going to be changed. I figured I'd save my breath.
- I instantly had a funny story. Let's face it, encountering someone like Rudiepants provides you with a story that you can tell over and over again for years and laugh over and over again.
It Didn't Take Long
As planned, my wife and kids came over a few minutes before Santa arrived. Remember earlier in the story I mentioned how I talked to my wife on the phone and had told her that we were first in line? Well, so did she and she had told my kids as much, so they walked up and took their ‘rightful' place right in front of the door. I had to call them back and try to tell them that we needed to wait. My wife looked at me and looked over at the woman and was like “What happened?”
At first I sort of just nudged my head in the direction of the woman and did the universal ‘cuckoo' finger sign, but she wanted details. So I sort of gave her the abridged version. “Well, apparently because we were sitting on benches, we weren't officially in line.”
My wife rolled her eyes and sort of figured the whole thing out. Rudiepants could very well have heard the conversation. I'm not sure. She was staring straight ahead.
But, then my kids kept asking too and I had to explain that while I'd told momma that “We had been first …but now we're not. So we'll just wait until it's our turn”
Was She Embarrassed?
Finally, after Santa arrived, they went to get their pictures taken. The four guys, whose families had all arrived and who had also filled in their spouses, all started talking amongst ourselves. I'm sure there were a few choice comments and laughs at her expense. The body language of our conversation was apparent to anybody that was inside and maybe looking out. Did I mention the gazebo was made of glass walls?
So, while nobody said anything to the woman, I'm quite sure she got the point. But then again, she really didn't get the point at all. I know I'll wonder for a long time as to whether the few minutes she saved was truly worth it. Sadly, I bet in her mind, it was. I mean imagine her telling the story: “These people that were there before me thought that they should go first. Can you believe it?”
OK, so maybe she shouldn't tell the story. But I will!
In any case, here's hoping that she gets some Christmas cheer. She definitely was lacking on Sunday.
Readers, I know that the holidays can bring the best and unfortunately the worst in people. Do you have any stories about Christmas spirit (or lack thereof) to share?