We were drinking beers on the Covid-era patio in the sun at Malt & Mold with a few neighbors while our kids plowed through ice cream from Ralph's next door. A kid who walked past and saw the ice cream stood on the sidewalk screaming for one of her own. There was nothing uncommon about the scene, but the degree to which this kid dug in took it to a new, impressive level. And I'm afraid she caught the mom on a day that involved issues more serious than ice cream, because the mom had hit a breaking point. It happens to all of us, and we all politely ignored the yelling in a voice perhaps too loud, even by American or even New Yorker standards. She said she would leave her kid there, and she made good on her promise and walked to the curb while her daughter stood rooted in place screaming.
The whole thing would have resolved itself in a minute or two. Then I saw her, the elderly woman who stopped one day to tell me that my dog needed a vet who had graduated from Cornell. Another time she stopped to complain to me that the sidewalk was dirty, and she went inside to tell them to come out and sweep. I was grateful for her help that day. She also told me that I needed an accountant that graduated from Cornell. (After she left Geoff said she'd told him the same thing a few days earlier.) She walked up to the crying girl and stood staring at her for a few heavy moments. "Oh god no," I thought.
"Why are you crying little girl?"
Between scream sobs she got out "ice cream".
The woman pulled a handful of change and started counting it. "I'll get you some ice cream."
Do I have a responsibility at this point? Warn the mom that the lady is a bit off her rocker? Do I warn the young girl that she may have to commit to Cornell to get the ice cream? Or do I let it play out and see how the poor mom, already past her breaking point, will deal with the situation.
"You want another beer Rocky?"
"I'm going to see how this plays out."