Not too many things shock me. I think it all comes from being Australian, where the general attitude is somewhat akin to: “well, stone the crows, Barry – would you look at that! Let’s have another beer.”

Aussies don’t get too hot under the collar, because it’s frankly all a bit hard and they’d much rather watch the footy (football) or cricket on their telly (television), have a couple of tinnies (beers) with their mates (friends) rather than get into a deep and meaningful discussion about too much of anything.

But I witnessed something the other day that did indeed stone my crows, and I was left a little mouth-agape.

I was going up to my roosting spot at the Liberty Memorial to tune out spreadsheets for a little while, listen to my audio-book and eat my lunch. Poodling along Pershing, I dutifully stopped at the red light at which I was going to make a left turn. I stopped gently, and I thought most courteously and watched a small troop of young children, accompanied by their teachers, cross at the crosswalk. Looking up the hill to my left I could see that there were quite a number of kids traipsing up the hill, and the lot in front of me appeared to be the last of the bunch.

It was the last child – who had a look of “grump” written all over her sullen face – that wiped that grandmotherly smile off my shining visage.

She was obviously not having a great day. Her body language positively shrieked that she didn’t like what they’d just seen at Union Station, didn’t want to walk up that damned old hill and eat her damned boring lunch in the damned insect-riddled great outdoors.

She was, I can tell you, in a frump.

It was, as she trudged her way across the street that she turned back to me, giving me that “neck action” that I positively cannot emulate, but it, speaking volumes to me, assured me I had done something quite unforgivable. She then proceeded to flip me the bird.

Like I said, not much shocks me, but I was rocked down to my toes. This little treasure, I would say no more than 7 years old, exuded an attitude never, never, ever aimed at me in my life.

My window was down, and before I knew it, I had donned a perfect Professor McGonigle school mistress tone and said loudly enough for said little treasure to hear me loud and clear: “That is no way for a well-brought-up young lady to behave, miss!”

And, as one does, I then thought that I’d love to pull over and give her a damned fine verbal lashing – but then I thought, this poor little sad girl is being brought up in an environment which must positively ring with an overall miasma that everyone is cruel and nasty and nobody cares.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young crooned “teach your children well,” and as Michael Jackson so eloquently sang, “it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white.” We’re all God’s, or god’s or Allah’s or Buddha’s children.

Annie Dear lives in Lee’s Summit. Email her at