Thursday, November 20, 2008

Injury on Aisle 5

I’ve always been a night person. No matter that the alarm usually buzzes between 5 and 5:30 each weekday morning. A lifelong night owl’s wings are rarely clipped for good.

So, arriving at the store at 11:45 p.m. is not a new experience for me. In fact, with few exceptions, I prefer it. There aren’t the crowds of the evening rush, no screaming children, and no jam-packed aisles to navigate. Or so I thought.

One of the things I don’t like about night-time shopping: stockers. I know they have a job to do, and a rather narrow window of time in which to complete the task. But for the wee hour grocery-gatherer, they represent an obstacle equivalent to road construction on an otherwise open freeway.

Their boxes block the aisles. Their over-burdened carts seem to lurk around every corner. They seem to stand or kneel just far enough into the center of the aisle to make the shaky-wheeled cart (how do I manage to get this one from the hundreds at the front of the store?) so difficult to maneuver around that it adds drama that I don’t need.

There were more cars in the lot than I expected. (No doubt I wasn’t alone in my turkey strategizing.) Still, a relatively light turn-out. As I began filling the better-odds-of-hitting-the-lottery- cart, I looked up to see a pair of big brown eyes watching my every move.

They belonged to a boy who appeared barely old enough to walk. Clad in a Spongebob sleeper, one hand tugged at a coat draped over the cart, while the other maintained a death grip on a bottle. All the while, he continued to stare. As I placed apples and then a stalk of celery into my cart, he began to babble and laugh. I said hello to him as I passed, gave him a mini wave and he responded with a blubbery grin. I saw a flash of teeth as he suddenly flopped forward and drilled them into the cart handle. Uh, mom, do you really want his mouth on that?

As I made my way through the store and around the stockers, I would occasionally hear a ruckus erupt in the distance. I was focused on my list and didn’t pay that much attention. Until I got to the paper aisle. Apparently, the boy’s mother had left the cart next to a stack of boxes piled high with rolls of paper towels. The baby was now avidly launching the towels – a roll at a time – into the aisle. One of the stockers noticed and began picking up the towels but the baby had too much of a head start.

Two aisles later, the mother did a bad parking job once again, this time sidling up to a case of canned goods. This wouldn’t have been a problem, except the box top had already been shorn off by a stocker. You wouldn’t think those stubby little hands could do it, but by the time I got there, the aisle was littered with cans thrown by destruction in a diaper.

Again, his mother was nowhere to be seen. (I was beginning to think this kid was wheeling himself through the store using mindpower or something.) And again, a stocker began picking up the contents of the now empty box. Or so we thought.

I turned around in just enough time to watch the tyke of terror heft one final can into the aisle – and right onto the back of the stocker who had bent down to retrieve the prior casualties. As the poor guy fell face forward, the miniature maelstrom began bouncing and giggling. (Could this be Damien? I wondered. I half expected Wagner to start pouring through the speakers.)

Are you OK?! I shouted to the stocker, who was now attempting to get up. He was visibly half-grinning, half annoyed as he got to his feet. “Yeah, I think so. That little bugger’s got quite an arm. How old is he?” Huh?

I quickly shot a look behind me. Surely he didn’t think … apparently that’s exactly what he thought. I explained that the catalyst of chaos was not mine. Just as I stopped talking, another stocker turned the corner. He grimaced as he glimpsed the imp. “Look out,” he said to his colleague. “He’s lethal.” I couldn’t help but chuckle at that one.

Apparently, he had pulled that stocker’s cap off and proceeded to pull his hair on a previous visit. So where is this kid’s mother? “I think I saw her a few aisles over,” the stocker said. “She always seems to be forgetting something.”

Yeah. Like maybe that she has a kid?


Kristy said...

This is one of those mysteries that has boggled me...along with women also leaving their purse wide open in the cart while walking down the aisle or a few aisles over.

I mean seriously people, are you nuts. These are the kind that you see on TV, after the kid has been kidnapped, claiming "I don't know what happened, I looked away for a second and he/she was gone."

At least you got some fun out of it!

MonkeyGirl said...

From the sounds of it, maybe she was hoping that someone would snatch him while she was gone! Sounds to me like someone should get that kid to MLB since he has strangth and accuracy!

Kay said...


I was seriously worried about you, overthinking the whole turkey thing, but now I'm glad you did. What a great adventure!

Jennifer said...

I see moms like that all the time! Funny story, though.

Anonymous said...

It's mean, but I always feel better about my kids when I hear about the scary ones like that. I can handle a little whining for treats at the store, but not anything like that!

NV said...

Kristy -- Yep. At the same time though it was weird not seeing that child's mother. And she'd be boo-hooing a blue streak if that child was taken.

MG -- Yep, and these weren't small cans either. I'm still trying to figure out how those stubby little fingers managed it!

KayO -- Yeah, I'm a geek, what can I say? It certainly was quite the adventure. I'll give the little darling that.

Jennifer -- I guess I should take it as a good thing that I don't see more absentee moms then.

kspin -- You have nothing to worry about. I rather doubt you would ever wander too far from your young'ns in a store. Much less if the one you're wandering from is under 2.

Renovation Therapy said...

OMG. Hysterical!

NV said...

JeanMartha -- 'Twas indeed in some ways. Horrifying in others.

Vicki said...

Woah! I want to chastise this mom, but I think I feel some compassion for her...I have, however, learned not to park my little mischief maker next to objects that could become weapons. And I never leave her out of sight. Still, I can't blame Mom too much for wanting to get away... ;)

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Aside from letting her child create so much chaos (you know - these things happen - to me - often)...What on earth was she doing leaving her child unsupervised?! Has she never heard of kidnappers? I have panick attacks about my children leaving my sight for more than a second when we're out in public. I can't imaging wandering off to another aisle in a grocery store!

Oh2122 said...

Oh. My. Cupcakes.

As a mom who spends half of the grocery run trying to keep my 19 month old from doing the same thing, I am sympathetic.

But as a mom who spends half of the grocery run trying to keep my 19 month old from doing the same thing, I am annoyed.

Parents like this make me crazy. This is how we end up with so many entitled teenagers. And hello, walking away from your kid in a public place?! Woah. I think a nerve has been struck.

I'll stop ranting all over your comments now.

Braja said...

There's a name for women like that. It ain't pretty and I ain't gonna say it... :)

NV said...

V -- I know how lightnin' fast Ashlyn is but I also know that you would never leave her out of visual range. :-)

Karen -- I know! I won't even leave my dog alone in the car! I can't imagine how I'd be with a fur-free kid.

Oh -- You hit the same note I did when I observed this once. But when it was obvious that it KEPT happening ... Yeah.

Braja -- Agreed! Thanks for your restraint. :-)

Anonymous said...