Several things reminded this week about an incident that happened in a pizza parlor 12 or 13 years ago, so I guess it's time to write about it. My kids have teased me about this for years, but I still contend I did the right thing.
My family was enjoying pizza at the best pizza parlor in the Sacramento area, Roma's Pizzeria. Suddenly, there was quite a disturbance from one of the customers. This incredibly inebriated man was yelling at his wife. The language was foul and abusive. This seemingly never-ending disgusting diatribe was not stopped by the management--quite to my dismay. This is a family restaurant, and there are always children present. I don't know about that particular evening, but very often soccer teams and baseball teams will celebrate at Roma's, and there is usually a birthday party or two. I know that my children were not the only children present that evening.
My husband and I hustled the kids to finish their pizza, and then we removed ourselves from the restaurant. My family walked out ahead of me, and it was necessary to walk right past the offending party. On my way out, I felt obligated to say something to this man (since management had failed to do so--or eject him from the restaurant). In a calm voice, I thanked him for making my evening with my children so pleasant. Then I walked out the door. The man followed me and began to yell at me. He tried to throw his beer at me, but my brawny defender husband walked out the door after paying the bill just in time to roar like a cannon as he flung himself at the beer-throwing arm, scaring the daylights out of this man (and I used the word "man" liberally). Most of the beer was deflected, but I still had to have my coat cleaned--worth every penny.
Roma's owner and staff came out to investigate, and I gave the owner a tongue lashing for not removing this man from the restaurant. He apologized to me profusely. We avoided going to Roma's for two or three years after the incident, which made my children a little disgruntled, but I wanted the owner to know that we were displeased with the experience (and we had been very regular customers). When we finally reappeared in the restaurant, we received red carpet service, and have never experienced another incident.
As I said in the beginning, I've taken quite a ribbing from my family about this, but I stand behind my actions. The world is becoming increasingly evil. There is right, and there is wrong. At some point, we all need to take a stand. We either are on the side of good, or we are on the side of evil. There is no fence sitting. That night I had two choices: (1) Say and do nothing, which would have taught my daughter (8 or 9 years old at the time) that using the "F" word three times in a sentence is appropriate, and my teenage son that being abusive to your wife is acceptable; or (2) take a stand and teach my children that there are some things in life we are not obliged to tolerate, and a restaurant owner that he has a duty to protect his clientele from such abuse.
I took a risk that night that I might get hurt. There are some risks worth taking for principle. It saddens my heart that so many people are afraid to stand up and say enough is enough. This is wrong, and I don't have to put up with this. It is fine to teach children principles at home where the environment is quiet and peaceful (well, usually), but they will be out in a tumultuous world. I wanted my children to be able to plant their feet on terra firma and say, "This is wrong, and I don't have to take this."