Picnic Predicaments

I still don’t know who to blame. Was it Vonage? Comcast? Regardless, our Internet and phone lines were down for EIGHT hours today. In the interim, I cleaned the house, prepped for dinner guests, went for a run, organized the eyesore-that-is-our-den, and washed, folded and put away five loads of laundry.

I am still recovering from the trauma of such productivity.


I don’t know why this irked me but it did. I took the kids for a run along a great trail with loads of verdant foliage and a swollen river. Part of their reward for being good in the stroller is to stop at the playground and have a grand ol’ time throwing rocks in the water.

We were alone when we arrived. I opted against setting up our picnic on one of the many surrounding benches and went for the table adjacent to the playground. I then set the kids loose.

Within a few minutes, a mom came with her two kids. I heard her loudly debate where they were going to eat and I waited for her to choose one of the benches. She didn’t. She headed straight towards where I had setup camp and plopped her troops down.

Now, I would not have minded sharing the table if she had just asked and hadn’t treated all our stuff with such disregard. But she didn’t. I wasn’t sure how to react. I really didn’t want to share space with her unruly clan so nonchalantly moved my stuff over to one of the benches. She said nothing.

I thought of a thousand things I could have said but none of them would have come out just right. But then I remembered the fine example of my dad’s former boss, Shawn.

A bit of background: my dad worked as an oil and gas engineer for Chevron for 30 years before moving over to a local Indian reservation for another 10. Shawn was an interesting character who fit many stereotypes but also had a free spirit, sense of entitlement and humor. We all adored him for his humor.

One day, Shawn was picnicking with his family at a public pavilion in Calgary. Time passed and an Asian family arrived. The father informed Shawn they had reserved the pavilion for his daughter’s party and kindly asked if they would leave.

Shawn refused.

They went back and forth arguing the issue until Shawn unveiled the clincher: “MY PEOPLE WERE HERE BEFORE YOUR PEOPLE!!!”

They let him stay.

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