It’s been a while since the etiquette bitch has surfaced. Maybe I’ve just been too busy staring down at my iPhone to notice children throwing garbage all over the aisles of Target, or too engrossed in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to catch people spitting on the subway platform.
And then there was yesterday.
A new mom in our building’s lobby was bouncing a sweaty little, barely 3 month-old baby in a Bjorn. I perceived that look of panic starting to set in on the mother’s face, before the quiet fussing even devolved into those long, high-pitched, unfortunately familiar wails.
She fidgeted more and bounced more fervently and shh‘d more, as the lunchtime crowd outside the elevator slowly inched farther away from her. I tossed her that sympathetic I’m a mom too look–you know the one–and said something about missing the days that mine were old enough to ride around in a carrier. I was drawing lines in the sand.
She quickly explained that the baby was teething already and miserable which blew my mind considering my kids were pretty much crawling, talking and doing long division before they had teeth.
As we got into the crowded elevator the baby’s cries grew sharper and louder and the bounces and shhh‘ing grew more urgent. “Sorry everyone,” she said over and over. “I’m so sorry.”
The 20-something tech geeks in the elevator they threw each other silent glances and barely detectable eyerolls, until a couple caught my eye. I stared them down with that evil, silent, protective mama bear glare, just daring them to roll those eyes. Just you try it, Mr. Entry Level IT Guy.
Heads whipped forward towards the door and down towards Blackberries.
The Etiquette Bitch slays with silence.
I am fairly certain that a few short years ago, I would have been them. Easy. I’d have rolled my eyes and cracked a joke and silently thanked Zeus for getting that stupid crying baby off the elevator on a low floor.
I hate that I might have ever been that person.
Because it would have been my loss.
There’s something wonderfully satisfying, I discovered, about being the defender of the mom with the screeching baby, and not the one complaining about it.