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At the hospital, actually. And not exactly funny. There was a total melee in the Surgical Services waiting room Monday.

Keep in mind that this waiting room houses families for both inpatient and outpatient surgeries--close to 200 procedures a day--so that's a lot of people.

One of the parties was an odd lot: four somewhat trampily-attired, blonde, 20-something women--each with a couple of blonde-headed toddlers in tow--all waiting on the same guy. The kids did pretty well throughout the morning, but after several hours of being couped up in a corner, they were getting a little restless. One of the mothers began to paddle her child (again) for running around and lo, a clergy member waiting with another family jumped up and began to cuss her out! Quite profanely, I might add, while trying to wrestle the child away from his mother. This caused everyone else in the mother's family to get involved.

Of course, the waiting room had gone completely silent, everyone both horrified and enthralled with the scene. Meanwhile, us Medical Center folk were all staring at each other with the "Dang, who wants to call Security?" look.

Hospital Security does not fool around. Twenty seconds later, no less than 10 uniformed officers swarmed the scene, breaking up the brawl. The pastor was escorted out. The mother and child were separated, presumably for the child's well-being. Ten minutes later, several cops showed up to investigate an abuse allegation--leaving us to wonder if someone in the waiting area had reported the incident or if the angry pastor had called the Police once outside.

Because the family had been sitting around the corner, it was hard to see to what extent the mother had been disciplining her child, although we could hear bits and pieces of the exchange. The pastor was definitely out of line in his approach to the situation, even if an intervention was warranted.

Now, I'm not opposed to (reasonable) corporal punishment; when administered effectively, the threat of a pop on the bottom is often enough to curtail unruly behavior. But it's turned into such a heated issue. These days, can parents even spank their kids in public without worrying that someone will call the cops? Blegh.


The Inimitable Miss M

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October 2009


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