My Teenage Son Was Being Extremely Rude to a Cleaning Lady at the Restaurant – I Taught Him a Valuable Lesson

Harold’s pride at watching his son lead his basketball team to victory evaporates quickly when the teenage boy is rude to an elderly cleaning lady. However, he quickly comes up with a plan to teach his son a lesson about respecting others!

Being a parent comes with unique challenges. One moment, you’re so proud of your kid, you could burst, but the next, their inappropriate behavior could devastate you.

That’s exactly what happened to me last Saturday. My boy, Jake, led his basketball team to victory against their biggest rivals, but what he did while we were out celebrating forced me to give him a harsh reality check.

It was the middle of the afternoon when we walked through the doors of Jake’s favorite restaurant, a cute little diner that serves the best apple pie in town. We were immediately greeted by the amazing scent of burgers on the grill and freshly brewed coffee.

A boy playing basketball | Source: Pexels

“Looks like this is the only free table,” I said to Jake as we approached a table that hadn’t been cleaned yet.

Jake narrowed his eyes as he took in the empty takeaway cups, used straws, and burger wrappers littering the table. What he did next took me completely by surprise.

An elderly woman was mopping the floor nearby. She was a pitiful sight, actually, since she was balancing using the mop with one hand and her walking stick with the other.

Jake waved his hand at her. “Hey, old lady!” he snapped at her. “This table is filthy. Come and clean it immediately.”

The old lady and I both stared at Jake in shock.

“Oh, of course,” the older woman replied. She carefully set the mop in the bucket and started toward us.

She leaned heavily to one side as she hobbled over, even with the support of her cane. Her movements were slow, too slow for Jake, apparently.

“This is pathetic,” he snarled.

I couldn’t believe my eyes as I watched Jake grab the trash from our table and toss it onto the ground.

“Let’s see if you can actually do your job,” Jake sneered. He pointed at the trash scattered on the floor. “Pick it up!”

My heart sank as I saw the tears welling up in her eyes. She slowly bent down, using her walking stick for support, and began picking up the scattered trash.

A wave of indignant anger and embarrassment washed over me. I reached toward Jake as I realized there was only one way to respond to my son’s disrespectful behavior.

My hand closed around a half-full bottle of cola that had evaded Jake when he tipped the rest of the trash onto the floor. I looked Jake in the eye as I emptied the contents onto the floor.

Jake’s face lit up, and a mean cackle escaped him. “Yeah, Dad! Let’s teach this old lady a lesson about doing a good job.”

“Oh, someone will definitely be learning a lesson here,” I replied. I directed my gaze to the counter where the manager was working and waved my hand in the air.

“Excuse me!” I called out. “Manager? We have a problem here.”

“Please, sir, don’t report me,” the older woman reached out and tugged on my coat. “I promise your table will be sparkling clean soon.”

It broke my heart to see the tears running down her cheeks. I wanted to tell her she didn’t need to worry, that this was all part of my plan, but I couldn’t.

“It should’ve been clean before we got here, Grandma,” Jake chipped in, his tone cutting.

At that moment, the manager arrived.

“Good afternoon, folks. What seems to be the problem here?” he asked.

Jake piped up, “This lady is too slow. Our table was filthy when we got here, and I literally watched her spend, like, ten minutes mopping one square foot of the floor. You should put her out to pasture.”

The manager’s face fell. He turned to the cleaning lady, but I spoke up before he could say anything.

“What my son meant to say is that he’s volunteering to work as a cleaner here for the next week. His salary will go to this lady, here.” I gestured to the weeping older lady on the floor.

“Dad, you can’t be serious!” Jake looked at me in shock. “This old woman—”

“Deserves your respect!” I snapped. “How dare you treat her like this when she’s clearly working hard to keep this place clean?”

“Because she’s too slow.” Jake clenched his jaw. “And too old. Look at her! What’s she doing working here when she can’t even walk properly?”

“That’s not your business to question. She has her reasons, I’m sure, and all your argument does is emphasize my point.” I turned back to the manager. “Do you agree to my proposition, sir?”

“I do.” He gave me an approving nod before bending a little to help the older woman up from the floor. “What do you think, Mrs. Roberts?”

The older woman, Mrs. Roberts, looked completely overwhelmed by this turn of events.

Mrs. Roberts looked up at me eventually, her eyes red and puffy, and nodded gratefully.

“Thank you, sir. I appreciate your kindness.”

I smiled and gestured to Jake. “You’re welcome. Now, Jake, I think it’s time you started making amends. Get to work.”

Jake reluctantly began cleaning the floor, his movements stiff and unenthusiastic. I could sense his frustration as he worked, but I wasn’t finished yet.

I turned to Mrs. Roberts. “Why don’t you sit down and order something? I’ll deduct the cost from Jake’s allowance.”

“What?” Jake paused to look at me indignantly. “That’s not fair!”

“I think you’ve already said too much for one day, son,” I replied, giving him a warning look.

I gestured insistently to Mrs. Roberts to take the empty seat across from me. She hesitated, then sat down with a shy smile.

Mrs. Roberts ordered a modest meal, and I just had a coffee. As she ate, Jake continued to clean. He glanced over at her occasionally. I could sense his discomfort, but I knew it was a necessary step in his learning process.

Over the next week, Jake worked at the restaurant every day after school. He mopped floors, wiped tables, and took out the trash.

At first, he complained about the exhausting physical labor and repetitive tasks during dinner. But I soon noticed a shift in his attitude.

One night, we’d just finished eating and Jake sprang from his seat to clear the table. His mom looked at him in surprise.

“You’re never this eager to help with chores, Jake,” she remarked. “Working at the restaurant is clearly doing you good.”

Jake froze. He glanced at his mom, then at me, and cleared his throat.

Restaurant table covered with trash | Source: MidJourney

“I guess so,” he said in a subdued voice. “I still hate the work, but it’s satisfying to see everything looking clean when I’m done.”

“So, you’ve started taking pride in your work,” I remarked. “That’s great. But tell me, do you feel like the customers and other staff appreciate what you do?”

“The staff definitely do. They, uh, gave me a hard time when they heard how I treated Mrs. Roberts.” Jake hung his head. “As for the customers… I doubt most of them give a second thought to the mess they leave behind, or who has to clean it.”

“They make me feel like I’m invisible,” Jake continued. “It really sucks.”

I couldn’t help but smile. It seemed I’d made the right call about the best way to discipline my son for his atrocious behavior. But just when I was basking in the pride I felt for my boy, he burst my bubble with an unexpected remark.

“I still don’t think Mrs. Roberts should be doing that job, Dad.” He met my gaze with a fierce look. “It’s hard work, and she deserves a chance to rest.”

Furious teen boy throws trash | Source: MidJourney

“I agree.” I sighed. “But I guess she has to work, Jake, to make ends meet.”

Jake shook his head. “It’s not right.”

I didn’t have a good answer for Jake so I just shrugged and said something about the unfairness of life.

I didn’t think much about it until Jake’s last day of working at the restaurant. What he did then completely blew me away.

I watched as Jake handed in his uniform to the manager and turned to Mrs. Roberts. She was waiting near the counter uncertainly and seemed uncomfortable as Jake approached her.

“I’m very sorry for the way I treated you, Mrs. Roberts,” Jake said. “And I’m sorry you have to work such a demanding job. So I’ve got you something that I hope will make your life easier.”

My jaw dropped as I watched Jake hand Mrs. Roberts a stack of cash.

“I spoke to my friends at school and we raised a little money for you,” Jake said. “It’s not much, but I hope it helps.”

Mrs. Roberts burst into tears. She thanked Jake profusely. It’s one of the most heartwarming sights I’ve ever seen. I’ve never been prouder of Jake than I was at that moment.

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