Last night a greeter at Wal-Mart tried to have the Hubs arrested for abducting Adolpha.
Yup. That really happened.
The four of us went to Wal-Mart last night. We had some things to buy. After filling our cart, Gomer and I said we'd wait on line to make the purchases and the Hubs and seven-year-old Adolpha went to get the car.
When we got in the car, the Hubs asked me, "Did that greeter at the door accuse you of stealing Gomer?"
"What?" I asked. "I didn't even see a greeter."
"She asked me if I was being stolen!" Adolpha exclaimed.
"What are you talking about?" Gomer said.
"OK, so we were leaving the store and the greeter said 'have a nice night' or something like that," the Hubs said. "I replied but Adolpha didn't. No big deal, right? The next thing I know, I'm getting her in the car and the greeter is there!"
"She was right outside my door, Mom," said Adolpha. "And she was saying stuff like, 'Are you OK, sweetie?' and 'Who is this man with you, honey? Is he your daddy?'"
"The greeter did this?" Gomer asked.
"What did you do?" I asked the Hubs.
"Nothing really. She surprised me and it was so quick. Then Adolpha said, 'He's my dad!' and then I laughed at the lady."
"You laughed at her?" I asked. "Why did you laugh at her?"
"I don't know. She made me mad. It was either laugh or yell at an old lady to leave us alone."
"Did she apologize or say why she stopped you?" I asked.
"No. Not at all. She was like staring me down. I could tell she still didn't believe Adolpha even though she told her I was her dad. The lady was basically accusing me of kidnapping Adolpha, which I wasn't. So I laughed at her."
"Hmm. It's a strange story, that's for sure," I said. "But you know what? I appreciate her vigilance. I want to go in and thank her. I want to tell her she's wrong, but I want to thank her, because if Adolpha was being stolen, I'd be happy that she tried to intervene."
"I don't think that's right," the Hubs said. "There was nothing good about what she was doing. She came after me because she saw a person of color leaving the store with a child that looks like she could be white. I was racially profiled. Have you ever been stopped with our bi-racial kids? Has anyone ever accused you of stealing them? This woman came after me because I'm Asian."
After some back and forth I decided not to go in the store and talk to the woman. The Hubs was pretty upset and I knew it would bother him more if I went in to talk to her. It wasn't worth the fight. I figured that was the end of that.
Half an hour later, we were at home and our doorbell rang. "Are you expecting anyone, Jen?" the Hubs asked, peeking through the blinds.
"Nope. Who is it?" I asked.
"Oh man," he said. He opened the front door to two police officers standing on our porch. "This is about Wal-Mart isn't he?" he asked.
"Why don't you tell us what happened, sir," the police officer said. "We received a strange call."
Yeah. The greeter really did not believe Adolpha. She took down the Hubs' license plate. The license plate that is on our minivan with the pink booster seat surrounded by sparkly headbands and stuffed animals. Really, Wal-Mart greeter? Are there a lot of kidnappers out there with the perfect sized booster seat and accessories near by? Do kidnappers safely buckle in the kids they're stealing after they've assured you that they're safe and sound with their parent?
Once she had the license plate number the greeter called the cops and reported some sort of incident. The police told us they weren't sure what she was reporting, only that she was sure that something was fishy and the Hubs was up to no good with Adolpha. They couldn't let it go and had to follow up.
After listening to the Hubs' story and speaking with Adolpha, the police apologized for bothering us. "We're just doing our job." And once again I was grateful that they did, because it reassures me that my local police are on the ball.
The Hubs closed the door, furious. "Now do you believe me? That woman is a racist. This is what racism looks like. She couldn't call me a chinky eyed bastard to my face, so instead the cops and told them I'm a child molester."
I didn't know what to say, because I'm torn. I don't think anyone handled this situation very well. On the one hand, I am so happy and so thrilled that the greeter at Wal-Mart listened to her Spidey-senses and acted upon her gut feeling to protect a child. So many times women push down that sensation in our gut and ignore it. Now, she was completely wrong, but still I appreciate what she did. I'm also happy that the police took her call seriously. I know she sounded like a whack job on the phone, but I'm glad they took the fifteen minutes to drive to our house and check on the Hubs and Adolpha and make sure everything was on the up and up. Think how many times we hear about missing children whose trails have gone cold because tips were not reported or given credence. Luckily my daughter wasn't in danger, but if she had been the system appeared to work.
I regret not going back into the store, because if I had maybe I could have made this greeter feel more comfortable and it would have prevented her from calling the police. Or maybe she might have performed a citizen's arrest right there, because Adolpha looks a lot more like the Hubs than she does me. I'm the one who is always being asked "Where did you get her from?" Hard to know what the old lady would have done if I'd spoken to her.
As for the fact that the Hubs' was offended and felt racially profiled. I can never know what prejudice feels like to him so I can't discount it and blow it off and call it a misunderstanding. I can tell you that I've done a little informal polling amongst friends and family and it seems like it's more of a sexist thing rather than a racist thing. Lots of moms walk around with bi-racial children or adopted children who don't resemble them and no one says boo (other than, "Are you the nanny?"). However, I heard about several incidents where the fathers of these same children were stopped and questioned at stores, parks, restaurants, etc. Maybe it's a guy thing. BUT when she went so far as to call the police after speaking to Adolpha - yeah, that tips the greeter into the racist category in my book.
Because I do think it's odd that the Hubs and Adolpha were the ones to trigger this woman's gut. They didn't do anything except walk out of a store without saying goodbye in a friendly manner. Surely, by now if you've read me long enough you know that the Hubs is kind of a jerk and Adolpha is sullen. Those two were never going to wave good bye to the Wal-Mart lady and wish her a good evening. Still, I don't know why that got her attention. I would think lots of people don't say goodnight in a friendly manner. I don't know why she followed them to the car and then scared my daughter by questioning her relentlessly. I can't tell you how many times I've seen kids dragged kicking and screaming from that same Wal-Mart literally screaming for help and no one bats an eye. Almost every time I've seen this it's been an exhausted looking woman carrying the thrashing child and I've always assumed she was the mother. Would I react differently if I saw a man doing the same thing? Maybe I would. I'm not sure? Either way, it doesn't make sense that this woman singled out my husband and daughter. Adolpha wasn't thrashing, she wasn't crying. The Hubs wasn't dragging her out of the store. He wasn't even touching her. And then once my daughter confirmed that she wasn't in danger, why did this woman take it upon herself to call the police on my husband? Is she a racist? A sexist? A nosybody who thought she'd be a hero? I'm not sure. I can tell you that I appreciate her concern, but I wish she would have stopped before picking up the phone, because that was completely unnecessary and that upset my family. She singled out my husband for reasons that we can only guess and she accosted him and my daughter. I don't know if this was her own initiative or if this is a new policy that Wal-Mart has instated. Either way, she stepped out of bounds. She sent police officers to our home. What if we had run more errands that night and weren't home when the police came by? What would the police have done? Question our neighbors? Put out an APB for our license plate and pulled us over?
I thank this woman for trying to protect my child from what she perceived to be harm, but once she realized my daughter was not in danger, she should have backed off before she called the cops. There is no amount of convincing my husband that she was a concerned old lady, in the end he feels like he was stopped by this woman because she was racist.
UPDATE: Since I wrote this post, a few articles have come to my attention where other fathers have been stopped with their bi-racial children. These incidents were very similar to ours and the more I think about this, the more I am convinced these are racially motivated. The world has changed, people. There are mixed race couples having babies and those babies end up looking like neither of us. There are couples who adopt children who don't resemble them. Sometimes a kid has two dads or two moms. Just because a family doesn't fit your idea of "matching" doesn't mean you need to call the cops on them. By all means, stay aware and help keep our children safe, but make sure you're really calling the police for the right reasons.
This one was at Home Depot.
Another Wal-Mart employee stepping out of line.
What do you think? Concerned old lady or racist? Has this ever happened to you?
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