I was loitering with intent.
I needed a key cut and was hanging around the key-cutting place at a nearby shopping centre, but the woman hadn’t noticed me yet. I was child-free but my head was pounding. I’d had way too much coffee and not enough water, and being woken at 5am by Baldy hadn’t helped.
Nor were the screaming kids at the little indoor playground right next to me.
Hang on, you may say. You have kids. You can’t complain about kids that scream.
Well, actually – I can.
My kids scream. A lot. Almost as much as I do. However I like to do it in the privacy of my own home, or occasionally in the car on the way to school, where passing motorists can see by my purple face that I’m yelling but they don’t know what about.
These kids were screaming in the middle of a very public space. Not just happy-kids-yelling-and-laughing type screaming. Not even she-pushed-me-over-and-I’m-upset screaming. This was I’m-going-to-shriek-because-I-want-to-see-if-I-shatter-those-windows screaming.
The mums were sitting watching and having a nice chat. Maybe they were chatting, maybe they were lip-reading because their kids were quite loud, who knows.
Finally the key-cutting lady noticed me and she came to cut my key. She noticed me rubbing my temples.
‘They do that all day,’ she said. ‘Shrieking like that, and the mums never stop them. They don’t seem to care that we have to listen to that all day.’
Fair point. Those particular kids and their parents might be there for five or ten minutes and then move on. The people working in the shops nearby, like this lady in her pop-up shop less than three metres away have to listen to it all day.
And they’re trying to work.
She clearly hadn’t noticed my key-ring with a picture of my own three daughters at prime shrieking age. I don’t think she would have been so chatty if she knew I could well be one of the culprits.
Or maybe she had, because she had very clearly – and politely – made her point.
I had never stopped to think that people are trying to work in the shops next to this play area.
I will next time.