Now I’ve Seen Everything

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I ve been in the karate school business in one way or another since 1973. I ve
seen a lot of weird and wonderful things, but this one is a topper.
A woman called to arrange an introductory lesson for her 6 year old daughter. On
the day of the appointment she called, frantically describing how she had lost her
daughter, how the bus with her daughter hadn t shown up and how she didn t know
where either of them were. How frightening! That she had the presence of mind to call us
in the midst of this was remarkable.
She called a bit later, cool and collected to say everything was OK and could her
daughter still take her lesson. I told her that was fine and she responded that they were
leaving then, which gave them a half-hour to make it over to us. Now unless you live in
Punta Gorda or Naples it shouldn t take you long to get to us. They were late.
They came in the door, the child in tow and the mother looking not-quite-right
and wearing a shirt with stains on it. The daughter immediately gravitated to my assistant,
Mike, who was to conduct the lesson. I gave her a gi and showed her where to go change.
They took quite a while and when they came out the little girl said she had to “go pee”.
The restrooms in my studio are directly across form the dressing rooms, by about 3.5 feet.
So Mom takes her in the ladies room and she goes – with the door open. That s not
uncommon and we can t see directly in anyway. The girl comes out, and then Mom goes
– with the door open. Mike s muttering under his breath and I m gritting my teeth.
When Mom comes out I asked her if she s OK. She looks unstable and I m
starting to believe she s been drinking although she didn t slur her words or smell of
alcohol. She doesn t answer me and she weaves a little on her way out to the mat area,
dropping her kid s clothes on the floor in the process.
Let s give her the benefit of the doubt. I gave her a chair and handed her a form to
fill out so I could get her name, etc while Mike stated the lesson. The girl did just fine.
Mom sat there quietly, and never did fill out the form. In the meantime, two instructors
came in and went to the changing rooms to get ready for their class. The female teacher
dropped her backpack in the changing room as she always does but came out and told me
that Mommy had staggered into her and was “dead weight”. When she asked her if she
was OK she got no answer and Mommy sat down on the chair in there. The female
instructor, Lisa, went into the ladies room to find that it smelled of alcohol and there was
urine on the floor. Figures.
She closes the door to change her daughter and they re in there for quite some
time. Seems she took some time to go through Lisa s backpack as when I told her to
check she said that every zipper on the thing was open but she didn t have anything
valuable in there. The male instructor in the dressing room next door heard the mother
tell her daughter “Why is it that every time I try to do something nice for you I mess it
up?” Craig hadn t seen what was up and without the context it made no sense to him. It
would in a minute.
Mike says to me ‘What do we do? I told him we tell them to call us tomorrow
and get them out ASAP. There was no point in taking this further. Mom approaches the
front desk and bounces off the window as she does. I asked her again if she was OK and
she starts to wipe her eyes and says she s not. This lady has a problem. Out the door she
goes.
Now the question is whether we stop her from driving. We decide we have to do
something and I called 911 after getting her license plate number. The vehicle is still
sitting and when it starts to move we comment about her hitting something, which she
promptly does by backing right into Craig s truck. That s about the same time Lisa came
out and told us the lady had gone through her backpack. Lisa wisely keeps nothing of
value in her pack and nothing was taken. The dispatcher on the phone asked me if anyone
wanted a deputy to make a hit and run or theft reports. We declined but I requested that
someone find her before she hit someone on the road, especially since she had a child in
the car.
As of this writing I have not heard any results as to whether she was stopped or
made it home. I kind of thought I d hear from her in a “You called the cops on me!” way.
I come from a generation where drinking and driving was not regarded in the way it is
today. We had an attitude of “Ah, they ll be OK.” But calling was the right thing to do,
and I sure hope they got home alright and that she gets some help.

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