The Shoulda Saids: 5 Things I Should Have Said to That Screaming Woman at the Bank

Not an actual photo of the screaming lady, but not far off, either.
Not an actual photo of the screaming lady, but not far off, either.
Photo by Manuel Calavera

Have you ever found yourself in an unexpected situation that rendered you gob-smacked speechless, but then you later thought of a whole litany of retorts and snappy comebacks that would have felt so good to deliver in response?

No? And when was it that you arrived here on Earth, from a distant galaxy?

Here's the deal. Not long ago, I was doing some business in the drive- through lane at my bank. It was a nice day, weather-wise (remember those?) so my convertible top was down, allowing me to fully enjoy the fresh air, the soothing sounds of birdies tweeting, and the like.

Suddenly a car pulled in behind me, windows rolled down, and the driver was screaming. I mean, like, at-the-top-of-her-lungs screaming. Initially, it appeared she was the car's only occupant, but it soon became clear she was a-hollerin' at a small child, presumably her own spawn, huddled out of sight in the passenger seat beside her.

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"That is bad behavior! That is bad behavior!" the woman screamed repeatedly at this poor kid who remained invisible behind the dashboard.

And she wouldn't let it go. Apparently the child had just committed murder, robbed a liquor store, or was dabbling in high-felony insider trading on par with Wolf of Wall Street, or something similar, because the tongue-lashing she was giving him was way over the top.

"You can't do that in public! You embarrass me! You makes me ashamed!" she continued for a full five minutes. "You're bad! You're just baaaaad!!!!"

OK, maybe it was three minutes. Or two. Still. That's a long time to scream at a child in public, or anywhere else. She went on and on and on about bad behavior and embarrassment and how this child was ruining her life.

I considered getting out of my car to intervene and give Meanie Mommy a big steaming piece of my mind, but my door was pinned against the vacu-tube unit. Besides, this is Texas. In her blind rage she might have shot me, then pled some kind of jacked-up, Florida-inspired, stand-your-ground, self-defense defense, like George Zimmerman with a uterus.

But boy, if looks reflected off my rear view mirror, over my car's trunk, through her windshield, over her steering wheel, and then into her wild eyes could kill....

So I froze. Sorry, kid. Really.

Here's what I shoulda said:

Hey lady! I don't know what this child did to humiliate you so thoroughly, but right now you're embarrassing yourself, me, God, and everyone else in Harris County who can hear you bellowing.

Hey lady! Haven't you ever heard about the long-lasting, detrimental effects of verbal abuse on a child's emotional stability? Do you want your kid to grow up like you?

Hey lady! No, you're baaaaad! And I don't mean in the Michael Jackson, I'm bad, you know it, sch'mon sense.

Hey lady! Don't you ever watch those Save the Children commercials? You should be happy you and your kid aren't in some war-torn, third- or fourth-world country, waiting in line for clean drinking water, instead of waiting in line for cash and maybe a Dum-Dum sucker to shoot out of a tube.

Hey lady! No withdrawal for you!

Hey lady! Shut the hell up. I'm trying to hear the birdies tweeting.


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