Yesterday, a member of the social network Imgur.com posted about his experience eating lunch near a McDonald’s playground. In his story, titled “Being Male Sucks Sometimes” the man claims he only meant to help a little girl who was hurt.

The girl’s mother became upset, calling him a “pervert”. McDonald’s employees appeared and even the police were called. The man left, shaken and upset. He claims he did the right thing… or at least had the best intentions.

Then His Story Went Viral
Over 3,000 Imgur members told the anonymous author that his actions were “creepy” and “alarming”. The post was viewed over 900,000 times as commenters argued and debated whether or not the man’s actions were appropriate.

ImgurThumbClick here to view the full post.

Here’s the Original Post & Selected Comments:

During lunch today on recess from jury duty I went to a nearby McDonald’s to eat since it was within walking distance. It’s was a larger franchise with a Play Place(TM). I generally prefer to eat in those areas during school hours since they tend to be relatively deserted and less noisy.

While I was eating, a mother brought her 4-5 year old daughter into the area to play while she went to order their food. I don’t think she saw me as I was sitting at a side table, slightly obstructed by a trash bin.

The little girl immediately commenced climbing and playing which brought a smile to my face. Her laughter and excitement was a welcome relief after hours of boring testimony and deposition for a truly mundane civil litigation trial.

I was mid-bite of my fish sandwich when the little girl fell hard and started bawling. My parental instincts kicked in (two boys, 12 and 7).

Without even thinking I jumped up and ran to her to make sure she was okay. I was cooing and making soothing noises, telling her she was going to be okay while simultaneously looking for cuts, scrapes or potential broken bones. Again without thinking, after I saw she was physically unharmed, I hugged her tight and picked her up to comfort her. She was simply a bit shaken and frightened because of the fall. She did not seem afraid of me at all, and in fact hugged me back as tightly as I was hugging her.

Just then, her mother comes in and screams at me to put her daughter down “Right f****** now, pervert!”

I immediately start trying to tell the mother about her daughters fall as I am handing the little girl over to her. I am trying to get it out that the girl is okay, just a little shaken up, but the mother has gone ballistic, and I am slowly realizing how this situation must seem to her. I felt my face immediately flush red with shame although I know I did nothing wrong.

Insult to injury is added when the Manager and a few crew members rush in behind the still screaming mother and inform me that I need to leave or the police will be called.

I look in their faces and see condemnation, judgment, disgust…. to them I am a monster, a pedophile about to hurt a little girl.

Still in the grip of a feeling of shame I cannot overcome, I mumble some asinine apology and simply leave without even collecting my food. I hate the fact that as a man I cannot rush to the aid of a child in need without having to worry about how it might appear to others, but that is the sad truth of our society. A man expressing any interest in a child, not his own, is immediately viewed with hostility and distrust.

Rationally, I know I did nothing wrong.

The true fault lay with the mother for leaving her child unsupervised in a place where she might be injured. But all I can think about now is how quickly that feeling of shame washed over me. It was overpowering and almost immediate once my brain started processing the situation and how others must view it. I apologize for the long post, but I had to get this off my chest. I feel like a little piece of my soul died today.

Here’s How the Imgur Community Reacted:

The Responses Raise Some Important Questions:
Are men and women expected to act differently around children?

If you’re a parent, are you automatically “creeped out” by solo men eating near a McDonald’s playground?

If your child was hurt and a stranger got there first, is there any amount of comfort that’s acceptable? Did he cross the line at hugging?

We’d love to know what you think! Tell us how you’d react in the comments.

(Interested in more? You can read the original post to Imgur here.)

16 Comments

  1. lisa on March 8, 2015 at 10:25 am

    The mother should not have left her daughter unattended shame on her. I pray that she learned her lesson and keeps a close watch on her child when in public because next time it could be someone searching for children.



    • Anonymous on March 9, 2015 at 6:56 am

      I completely agree. People should be shaming the mother not the innocent bystander.



  2. Amanda on March 8, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    I support his wanting to help. But unfortunately people can’t handle this type of compassion. The best thing for him to have done would be to go and get the parent right away. And all drama could be avoided. Not his problem….. hugging a strange child wasn’t the way to go. At all…



  3. jessica on March 8, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    I feel sorry for that poor man! He was just doing what any good parent would do if they seen a child hurt! I would ‘ve probably done the same thing! Regardless of play place, play ground or where ever she should not have been left alone. Shame on that mother for treating a good Samaritan like that! There needs to be more good people in the world but worth people judging without knowledge they have people afraid to help. That man will probably never help a child like that again in fear of the same happening. People are sad! Making accusations and judgements on people with no proof or understanding! If she woulda listened to him and clearly seen that daughter was upset and hurt she would’ve been able to understand better. Instead she just placed blame where it didn’t belong!!!



  4. Maggie on March 8, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    I wasn’t there to see what happened, but it appears neither was the child’s mother. If you don’t want other people helping your hurt child, then pay attention to them! If she had been paying attention he wouldn’t have time to hug, access her for cuts and breaks and hug her again.



  5. Kathy on March 8, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    I personally don’t think I would hug the child, unless the child is completely lost and scared and crying, if the parent is close, you check on the child, and get the parent. It would have to be Ann extreme situation to hug a strangers child. But I would never run up and yell and accuse like she did. What right did she have calling him a pervert? How about watch your child? I have 2, and they don’t go in there until I do, on the off hand I actually go in McDonald’s. Our children are our future, #ittakesavillage. And if we aren’t able to help another person’s child without fear if being accused of one or more horrible things, then where is the village? Who can our children depend upon?



    • Keep Kids Safe on March 9, 2015 at 7:35 am

      Agreed! I also think the mom may have missed a great opportunity to teach her little girl how to react when scared, how to ask questions, and most importantly – how to listen.



  6. casey on March 8, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    The mother shouldn’t have left her child unattended to begin with. So he’s not a perv and just a parent that the womans little girl could have been injured….. she’s lucky it was not an actual pervert that found her kid or that her child was even out there at all after leaving her alone.



    • Keep Kids Safe on March 9, 2015 at 7:34 am

      That’s a great point – Why didn’t she look around the playground before dashing inside?



  7. Kelly Stiles on March 9, 2015 at 5:18 am

    I applaud this man. His fatherly instincts are what kicked in, he has 2 boys. I’ve hugged children that were not mine after they fell off the monkey bars or when they couldn’t find their parents. I am a mother of 3 and I have gotten scolded whether I’m with my children or not by that child’s parent. I can understand that’s it’s alarming that he was hugging her, but the mother is at fault. She is an idiot to leave her daughter alone outside and she didn’t even see him. He did nothing wrong.



  8. Sheena on March 9, 2015 at 6:21 am

    Personally, I think the man should have been thanked. What if the little girl had broken her arm? What if she had a huge gash in her arm, back, head from falling? Would she still have acted the same? The man was only trying to do what ANY good, caring parent would do. This has happened to me before, both sides and I wasn’t called a pervert or accused the other person of being a pervert. I just don’t see where everyone is jumping down his throat.



    • Keep Kids Safe on March 9, 2015 at 7:33 am

      It’s been really interesting to read the difference in comments on Imgur (largely young, college-age guys) and on Facebook, where many more parents have commented! On Imgur, readers were definitely jumping down his throat – though, many of the comments were that he had “gone too far” by picking the kid up. Parents have been a lot more supportive and understanding of his instincts, and that’s been really refreshing to read!



  9. Xelba on March 9, 2015 at 6:27 am

    Does anyone think about asking their child what happened? and then thanking the man (or women) since the kid will say the truth (hopefully parents are teaching their kids to always say the truth and to trust their parents to tell them anything)!
    I dont think we should go through life thinking everyone is out to hurt us!



    • Keep Kids Safe on March 9, 2015 at 7:30 am

      You’re right! I don’t think asking the child has even been brought up – which is really interesting and would have been a great opportunity to teach how telling the truth matters.



  10. Anonymous on March 9, 2015 at 11:26 am

    I can honestly see this both ways on the cut n dry simplistics. Yes, Panic–someone you don’t know is holding your child; Guy hiding for the quiet ’cause he’s right, during school hours play area is normally dead–omg, poor kid, are you okay sweetie??
    ….Except—“omfg, what was I thinking?!!?!”–from the mom, I would Hope, once she actually started processing instead of lashing out at someone Else for Her Absence.
    Who in their bloody Working minds leaves their child in a play area–ENCLOSED OR NOT–unattended??? I don’t give a trillion flying fingers if you THINK it’s empty or if it’s 20 other lil kids in there with only moms for the adults. If you don’t KNOW someone to sit in there with you’re child for the entire time you’re gone–regardless of why–and you’re child is not old enough that you’d let them play at a park by themselves or let them disappear in the store aisles without you, WHY would you put them in an UNSUPERVISED play area with unsupervised and unrestricted access to said play area??? You’re seriously worried because a grown man was in there checking on you’re child that you left?? Did He, by his own admission, go overboard on parent freakout checking a child that wasn’t his?? Sure, HE ADMITS IT HIMSELF THAT HE WENT OVERBOARD WANTING TO ASSURE THE CHILD WAS OKAY. I’ve known several men, almost Especially those who have never been around or cared for a Girl child regularly, that go absolutely ballistic panic to the point of freezing up cause they don’t know what to do with a little girl when she’s upset or hurt.
    To TOP IT ALL OFF–Oh, dear sweet McDonald’s, you effing jack-wagons from beyond the black edges of known space -_-“” If you’re going to butt you’re moronically inclined 2-cents in, at least get the whole story, instead of jumping on the guy that’s stuck on Jury Duty, that was in there Eating You’re Food, that if you had any kind of memory process SOME employee should have known was in there, and if you’re that thrice-accursed worried about you can check you’re security footage for at least documentation of him being there–idiots. And Any One of you who’s ever had to do jury duty should be able to sympathize with wanting a quiet corner to eat in peace before going back to the entertainment of absorbing and cataloging the facts of a case to try to give an honest opinion on sentencing.
    Also, you’re so worried about a grown man that immediately TRIED to tell you what was wrong and what had happened, WHILST HANDING YOUR CHILD BACK, but you were to busy screaming like a banshee in a horror flick–doubtless panicking you’re child again, good job ma–at and not even bothering to check with or talk to you’re child. Guess what, I’ve seen children the same age who Can be just as cruel as you’re imagining that man, if not worse. Reality check, the world is a scary place and public areas, no matter how kid-friendly, are not the place to get lax or assume “I’ll only be 5 minutes, she’ll/he’ll be fine.”



  11. Daniel on March 11, 2015 at 8:53 am

    I am the man who made this post initially on Imgur. I’ve had a lot of time to process it and absorb the comments and messages I’ve read since it happened, and since I initially posted about it. I honestly never expected it to become such a hot-button issue. Many things posted on Imgur tend to just sort of disappear without even causing a ripple, so it can be a good way to vent or express yourself in an anonymous forum.

    Obviously, it elicited a fair amount of responses and got a lot of attention. Most of the private messages I received were from people who applauded my actions. I tried to respond to them all, but there were very many of them and it got a bit overwhelming.

    Having discussed the entire situation with friends and family, I’ve come to the conclusion that while I did the “right” thing, I may not have done the “best” thing. I suppose that’s the risk you run when you act before thinking. I just don’t see how anyone in that sort of situation can afford the luxury of worrying about how things might look when the health and safety of a child is on the line.

    I understand the mother’s reaction completely. I would be hard pressed to say with certainty that I would have reacted any better than her initially, although I would like to hope that I would have been a bit more patient and calm once I had ascertained the well-being and safety of my child. The same goes for the employees who asked me to leave. They only saw a distraught mother taking her child back from a stranger. To my mind they were simply doing the best they could in an extremely awkward situation. I don’t fault them for asking me to leave.

    Also, it’s worth noting that I don’t think the police were ever called. I was simply advised that they would be if I did not leave.

    I like to hope that the mother calmed down enough to get the story out of her child, and came to realize that I was only trying to help. I think she may have even realized it in the moment, and I cannot imagine the guilt she must have felt for not being there when her daughter fell. That more than anything may have contributed to her reaction.

    It takes a village to raise a child.

    In this cynical, dangerous world we have strayed from that idea. Perhaps we had no choice. It’s hard to argue in the face of the atrocities that have happened to children at the hands of adults. Especially in light of the fact that oftentimes those adults turn out not to be strangers at all, but rather family and friends. Our initial reaction has to be fear. It is the primal drive that ensures we protect the ones we love, the ones who are unable to protect themselves.

    I have come to realize that how we react to strangers in relation to our children is not a black and white issue. Whether those strangers are male OR female.

    Ultimately, for me, the whole situation has been a very strong reminder that appearances can be very deceptive. We have an obligation to help people out when we can, and we also have an obligation to reserve judgement where we can, at least until we have all the facts. Ultimately, it’s a question of principle.

    For me, I will not let this situation stop me from acting again in the future if I am called on to do so. I would help that child again in a second. And I would want any responsible, principled adult to do the same for my own children if the roles were reversed.