Writing Prompt: A time you wish you had spoken up.
At one point in my life I worked in a famous department store. One day I was standing near the cash register with another saleswoman I’ll call Patty.
On this day a woman and several children approached the register to ask us questions. A little boy said something that apparently his mother took exception to.
Suddenly the boy was on the floor.
It happened so fast and he was down before Patty and I realized what had happened. We were still trying to process this when the boy staggered to his feet and then again said something that his mother didn’t like.
Mother struck again.
He was on the floor again.
Patty and I stood there, jaws dropped. We glanced at each other. Should we call security? We had the funny feeling that security was only concerned about shoplifters. I knew that I would probably lose my job if I “caused trouble” – I live in an “at-will employment” state and they can use anything to fire you. Actually, they don’t have to give any reason at all.
I also was aware that that it would be my word against hers — and I’d also drag Patty into something that should might not want to get involved in. However, we both felt really bad and guilty for not doing anything about it.
This is why child abuse doesn’t get reported as it should. People are afraid to get involved, because YOU can get into trouble for doing the right thing.
In retrospect, I wish that I had called the police. Even though you could not get an outside line on the department phone, I did have my cell phone in my purse in the drawer.
We were also stunned that someone would knock down her child – twice – in front of total strangers. She seemed completely unconcerned about what happened and the whole group just wandered away.
We also wondered: if she did this in public to her children, what did she do in private?
This was written for Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop.