Karma’s a Bitch (And So Am I)

12 May

There are a lot of good people in the world.

Sometimes it seems as if there are as many — if not more — heinous people, who do  and say terrible things. Unfortunately, these are the people who end up occupying most of my thoughts. I can easily lose focus on the good and fixate on the bad.

Tuesday night I went to the gym for water aerobics. About halfway through the class I saw something out of the corner of my eye. An older man (50s, 60s?), who was standing at the opening of the men’s locker room, seemed to take an aggressive stance toward a boy who appeared to be mentally/developmentally handicapped. (I discovered later the two were father and son.)

I couldn’t hear what the man said to the boy, but I watched in shock as he began to flick the side of the child’s head several times with his fingers — and not in a loving way. In my mind, I gasped in horror. I must have gasped out loud as well, because the instructor followed my gaze to where the man and boy were standing. She looked at me sadly and mouthed the words, “I’ll take care of it.”

The man must have felt holes burning through the back of his skull, because I eyeballed him all the way as he walked with the boy from the exercise pool to the lap pool. I finished the class, but every once in a while I’d try to peek through the wall of windows that separated the two pools to see what they were up to.

As the class was coming to an end the man and his son came back into the exercise pool area to wait for us to finish so they could get in and swim. I spoke to the class instructor, who explained that this wasn’t the first time the man had exhibited this behavior, but they were wary of revoking his membership because the boy loved to come and swim. The mother (also older) is apparently nice, so it must just be the father who is a total prick and should die a slow, painful death. She told me she was going to talk to the gym director about the incident, but I think I’m going to e-mail the gym as well.

What worries me the most is what happens when they’re at home and no one is watching.

The abuse of a child is, in and of itself, reprehensible. But to abuse a child who is physically or mentally disabled? There’s a special place in Hell for people like that.

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