When, recently, we were at a show in NYC, an usher came barreling down the aisle, leaned in, and announced loudly that we were in the wrong chairs and needed to move over. Not knowing if the number was on the right or left arm of the chair, it turned out that we were off by one, and we readily made the shift.
But the usher was still short one for the group she was attempting to seat. "You need to move," she barked, making a big show of counting the chairs between us. "You're still in the wrong seats."
At this point Daughter #1 probably would have gotten up and left the theater if it would've made this woman leave us alone. But I reached for our tickets. "No," I said firmly, "we're in the right seats."
She sighed heavily, rolled her eyes, and counted the number of seats out loud once more. "Do you even understand what I'm saying?" she growled.
After more counting and commanding it turned out that we were in the right place, but a woman next to us was not.
As I settled back into my chair, watching this poor soul fumbling to find her ticket, I couldn't help myself. I turned toward the usher, remarking, "You could be nicer about it."
She did not reply. But she did shut up.
Moments later, when the seating debacle had been all but forgotten, Daughter #1 turned to me and whispered, "You need to say four Our Fathers."
Penance? This from my daughter who doesn't even go to Mass, let alone Confession.
"For what?" I asked.
"For yelling at that usher," she said. Like I was about six years old.
I hadn't yelled. I had stood up to an obnoxious, rude person who was certainly not behaving in a manner befitting her job description to patrons who had clearly purchased tickets or they would not have been admitted into the theater to begin with.
If anything, I was proud of what I'd said. I hope I've raised my kids not only to defend themselves, but to have the courage to defend others as well.
And here all Daughter #1 could see was an embarrassing mother. Normal, I know. But disappointing all the same.
"She was rude to us and mean to that woman," I told her. "And I didn't yell."
"Everyone was watching," she insisted.
"If that's true, then I'll bet they agree with me." I looked around. Started to get out of my seat. "Come on, let's ask them."
"No way." She grabbed my arm and pulled me down, alarm written all over her face.
I wouldn't have really done it. I was just getting back at her, trying to freak her out a little.
But I'll bet if we had asked them, you know whom they would have agreed with?