Several years ago, a man smacked a screaming child in a Stone Mountain, Georgia Wal-Mart. It was featured on the news, there were opinions thrown from every side and for me I silently empathized with the man...though I guess not too silently now. That man acted on what everyone at one time or another thinks about. I admit, I'm on the road to becoming a grumpy old man. I have worked in restaurants and retail for many years and have observed ill behaved children and to be completely truthful, behind every screaming child seems to be a parent or a pair of parents that are just as whiny and spoiled.
Working a retail job sucks enough, throw in the fact that you're getting paid to be scapegoat to the world and you have best described my job description for every retail job I have had. The icing on the cake are the stupid adults that wander around a store with their children, making empty threats. I've realized the adult is actually more annoying than the child, the kid is usually motivated through boredom and feels they are being tortured. The parent is not only torturing their child by subjecting them to a situation they would rather be removed from, they are using their child as a torture device to everyone in earshot.
Brookstone was good for customers that assumed that we would watch their kids while they shopped for pointless gifts and gadgets. While I was the manager, I made sure that I did give these kids and parents a run for their money. I would approach the parent, offer help to find a gift and when they said "just looking" I would approach the kid and ask if they were looking for a gift. When the child said "that's my mom" I would let them know they have to remain with their parent to stay in the store. Just imagine dealing with a single adult spouting "Don't touch that!" "Leave that alone, that's not yours!" "You knew it would break if you banged it on your head!" "Don't touch her, you have sticky hands!" "Where's your brother?" "Where did you get that BombPop?" for fifteen minutes. We had massage chairs that we didn't allow people under 18 to use, Tempur Pedic beds that kids wanted to jump on and gadgets they would abuse. My patience was nonexistent and it was easier to adopt a stay with your parent stance than fill out incident reports.
One day, while working at Borders, a woman with a voice that can only be described as falsetto like a man trying to sound like a woman spent thirty minutes shopping in our store. The woman sounded like she was trying to sing her words but it was monotonous and she only had two notes in her high yet super breathy range. This woman's child's name was Philip and you will now know why we all knew his name was Philip and will never forget him. We won't remember him even though he introduced himself with one finger up his nose and the other holding a large order of McDonald's French Fries. We will remember Philip because of Philip's mother. "Philip, it's not nice to pick your nose in public." "Philip, I don't think that man wants to hold you." "Philip, honey, they don't like when you close your french fries in their books." "Philip, french fries do not make good bookmarks." "Philip, what did mommy say about picking your nose?" "Philip, do you need to go teetee or booboo?" And you know retail stores force their sales staff to intervene without costing them any business...FAT FUCKING CHANCE...We run for the hills and try to stay out of the booger picker's way. Thirty minutes of that woman's voice echoing through every inch of the store and we all sign from relief when we hear "Philip, mommy is done shopping."
Towards the end of my time as a store manager with Brookstone, I became a super retail bitchy queen and discovered my talent as a ventriloquist. Venting my shit from nearby objects seemed appropriate at the time. "Mommy, that clock said the baby wants to bite off your booby." "Mom, mom, mom, the chair says you have an annoying kid." "Come on, we're leaving and I'm having you tested" as the parent storms out of the store with their kid. I would also rig things around the store to make it seem haunted to little kids. I attached a piece of clear string to a remote controlled oscillating fan and the other end to the hammock in the store and would wait for a kid to look like they were about to hop on the hammock and make the fan start oscillating so it swung the hammock. "Momma, that hammock is moving by itself!"
Working in restaurants, it probably no better. Parents lie to their children, and the server, about fake allergies. If you are allergic to cooking oil, then you are also allergic to the oil in the margarine that you've slathered all over that bread. That kid doesn't want grilled chicken, they wan't fried chicken tenders. That kid doesn't want white milk to drink, he wants a Pepsi or a Mountain Dew...BTW milk is a food and NOT a beverage. I especially love walking up to a table and ask if anyone's interested in pie for dessert and the kid gets excited only to be shot down after the parent asks if it's free and when I say no the parent says "He's got a gluten allergy and can't have anything with pie crust anyway." It's funny considering that child ate a hamburger made with a full on white bread bun made with gluten.
So back to that man in Wal-Mart...Did he do the right thing? Absolutely NOT. Kids will do what they do because they are kids and their parents put them into positions they don't know how to cope in. Do I feel for Wal-Mart man? Absolutely, he should've hit the parent. Just kidding...or am I??? ;-)
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