In Lake Stevens, Washington, some people went to a cafe with other people who were small children. Scones were eaten. One child did or did not scream. The owner asked the people to leave, telling the adults they could return later – without their children.
That’s not all. THERE WERE CRUMBS.
The proprietor of the Rainy Days Caffé, Lorraine “Rainy” MacDuff, photographed the crumbs on the floor. She posted the photo on Facebook with the caption “Like to take a moment right now to thank our customers with small children whose kids don’t make a mess. A couple of ladies came in today and this is the mess their children made.
MacDuff didn’t identify the customers. Nor did she say she kicked them out. She may have supposed that if they saw it and recognized themselves, they would be ashamed.
One of the adult customers was Kellea Poore. She’d felt humiliated then. Now she was outraged. Poore posted about it on Facebook. Others, many of them indignant mothers, joined her in outrage. Poore said that her husband was deployed in the armed forces, hence unable to help with the kids, thus bringing in ill-focused fury on behalf of military families. Then the media came calling for her story.
At the cafe, Poore said, she had her 1-year-old on her lap and her 3-year-old seated next to her. There was no screaming. She admitted there were crumbs. There were scones, after all, and “anyone who’s ever eaten one knows what I mean.”
MacDuff approached. “[S]he basically told us that there was going to be a worker that was going to come over and she was going to vacuum up the mess and they had just spent $50 cleaning the carpets and she didn’t appreciate us making such a mess, and that next time if we decide to come in, not to bring our kids,” Poore said.
Stunned, they left.
MacDuff also spoke with the media. She said well-behaved children are welcome, but one of these kids was “screaming the whole time.” She said she was not “targeting” military families. “I didn’t know they were military wives.” Her own spouse is a Gulf War veteran. She took down the photo of the crumbs, and put up an apology.
I want to apologize for posting that picture. It was not right to do that and I am deeply sorry for any embarrassment it might have caused anyone.
Poore called that “half an apology.” She said “It’s not apologizing for her behavior in the store, and that was the most humiliating part, to be berated by someone who owns the shop, and you just paid money to buy their product.” (It is also the case that when you kick people out, they seldom try to stay behind and clean up.)
MacDuff told KBOI-2, “If I wanted to humiliate them I would have taken their picture.” Ooh, really bad business idea.
SorryWatch agrees that the apology wasn’t good. MacDuff limited her apology to the posting of the photo, and not to the incident in the restaurant. She also implied that the crumb-generating group should be embarrassed. If one of the kids really was screaming nonstop, MacDuff might have asked Poore to take him outside. But the issue she actually raised on Facebook was: crumbs.
The crumb issue went national. Some media outlets seemed to sympathize with the customers, and some with the proprietor. The packs of savage commenters who roam the internet were also split in their loyalties. MacDuff said someone threatened to drag her behind a truck.
Others raved about a child-hostile culture; said the cafe looked cluttered, uncomfortable, and too rustic; or cruelest of all, posted “Oh and cafè has only one F.”
Those who took MacDuff’s side complained about ghastly children and “entitled Mombies” they’d been forced to witness; said MacDuff is a nice lady just trying to make a living; and the cafe looked clean, quiet, and delightfully free of “little crumb crunchers.”
SorryWatch will now take a stand. It’s not a matter of people without kids versus people with kids. Everyone should realize that they were shrill sticky children themselves. If you do not remember screaming in public places and spraying crumbs in all directions, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. You were horrible. But you were young.
SorryWatch is on the verge of convening a panel of censorious centenarians who will testify that the childhood behavior of every single person alive today was APPALLING. Our parents had NO CONTROL OVER US. It was STOMACH-TURNING. We were like WILD ANIMALS, and every single one of us owes the WORLD many thanks for tolerating our high-pitched monkeyshines.
It’s a wonder any of us are allowed to eat scones.