[the picnicking old ladies]

[the picnicking old ladies]

The Picnic is still in my mind – quite frankly, it is one of the few thoughts that wander around my mind looking for other thoughts to keep them company (they are feeling lonely).

On Monday, we all had to share our impressions regarding the Picnic and the areas we were responsible for – so for the next time, we could think of the ways to solve the issues that arose and making the event even more successful.

Since I was at the Kids’ Zone and had a lot of help from my team mates from the Chamber (instead of volunteers from other companies), there was a lot of feedback regarding the fun times we’ve had. One of the most discussed thing was how to deal with old ladies next year.

You might wonder… why should old ladies be dealt with. Well – because the old ladies who were here were so obnoxious and greedy that we were shocked. I can understand kids who want presents – but c’mon – if you’re three times older than I am, I expect you to have higher standards – I was brought up in the understanding that older people are wiser (most of the time) and that I should look up to them.

However, here, since the presents were free but they were only for kids, the “kids-less” grandmas resorted to all kinds of tricks to get the present. This is one of the things that drives me up the wall about the mentality of Soviet-time people (although it might be similar in other parts of the world) – the mentality that if something is free, then I should get as much as I can – regardless of the people who also might want what I want. The mentality that if some people can get something for free – I have to have it too – even if I don’t fit the requirement.

Anyway… I wanted to share a few memorable grandma moments that we all laughed about afterwards, when we got to the office on Monday.

The Chamber Lady

We gave out presents standing right next to a Danone fridge filled with yoghurt (that we also gave to kids). One of the ladies came (and she looked rather shabby – every year we get a few of weird people at the Picnic who got their tickets off someone) leading a little girl whom I clearly remembered I had given a present (she even wore one of the bracelets we put on kids who got presents). I looked at the lady (wondering whether the girl belonged to the lady at all or it was just a random kid she brought):

“Your kid already got a present.”

“No, she haven’t.”

“She’s got the bracelet and I have a good memory for faces.”

“Listen here, young lady,” the older lady told me menacingly.

I looked at her.

She continued, “I work at the American Chamber of Commerce. You have to give me a present.”

I stifled laughter at the creativity and calmly replied, “Actually, I am the one who works at the American Chamber of Commerce. You don’t work there. Have a nice day.”

She probably thought that I was just a Danone girl and she knew that the Chamber were the organizers of the event. Whoops, lady – you got it all wrong.

The Grandma Lady

The presents were given out only to kids and only one present to one kid (the presents consisted of numerous chocolate bars, a Coke can, several chocolate-filled cakes, and some toys).

One elderly lady came.

“My grandson is somewhere in the crowd. Give me a present.”

Having explained it numerous times, I smiled and calmly replied, “Bring your grandson here and I will give him a present. I cannot give presents without kids present.”

She huffed and walked away. In a few minutes, she came again (and dang, she did not observe the rule of personal space – I hate when people stand way too close to me when there is a lot of space around).

“There is my grandson, standing over there.”

“I will not give the present to you. Your grandson has to be here – in front of me.”

“Slavik!!” she yelled to the boy who was standing with his mom and someone else, then she marched over to him and brought him to me. “Here is my grandson.”

I looked at the boy. “We’ve given you a present already.”

The grandma looked at me, then at the boy. The grandson looked at his grandma as if to say “Told you. Why did you haul me all the way here?”

“Were you here with your mom?” the lady asked Slavik.

“Yes,” he replied.

“Oh!” She smiled and looked at me. “I am his grandma!”

“Nice to meet you,” I replied, not sure where this was going.

“Give my grandson a present.”

“He got one already.”

“Well, he was here with his mom. But I am his grandma!”

Shocked at the “iron logic” of the statement and implication, I told the lady, “But the kid is the same, isn’t he?”

They walked away, the grandma obviously unhappy. I stood there with my friends and wondered… Seriously, lady… you expect me to follow the logic? One kid – one present. What if next time he comes with his dad? Should I give him another present, for his dad? O_O

Kids’ Zone is one of the most optimistic zones at the Picnic but at the same time, some situations just dampen the entire spirit. It is wonderful to see a kid happy to get a present and when the parents are happy too seeing their little one excited. But when it comes to these conniving tricks and greed – whether from the kids / parents / grandparents… Come on – it’s not that I don’t believe you that you’ve got a kid at home (although with some you’ve got to wonder). But these presents are first of all for those kids who came to the event – is that so hard to grasp? So Kids’ Zone is one big pendulum of emotions – one moment you’re grinning ear-to-ear because you’ve witnessed a girl scream in delight at the prospect of chocolate bars… and next moment you’ve got to stop an old lady who is trying to steal (yes, steal) a package right behind your back. And it sucks – because I wish I could give those presents to everyone – but I can’t. And it sucks because I have to enforce the rules.

All in all, we fought off most of the weird ladies who wanted more and more stuff (and only lost two trays of yoghurt that someone stole when we weren’t looking)… There were several who asked politely for the presents and I gave in – one lady in her 80s was keen on calling me “sonny” (obviously in her mind, if a person has a short haircut, it’s a boy), but I didn’t care anymore. I was just glad that she was happy and that she wasn’t begging me for a kids’ present.

At times I wondered whether I am doing a right thing by refusing some older ladies… but rules are rules and there were kids at the stadium who haven’t received their presents yet… And people who don’t get the idea of teaching their kids to share bug me big time. If indeed there is a kid who stayed at home – then the kid who got the present (which had about 15 different chocolate bars) could easily share – or is it just my idealistic thinking?

What do you think? What would you do in my shoes – give the presents to those people or stick to rules?

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