Tonight in the grocery store I found myself with my heart racing, adrenaline beginning to free-flow, and seriously thought I was going to freak out right there in the checkout lane with a full cart of groceries.
I have issues with the things other people do; especially when they are completely out of my control. At the top of my "I’m gonna freak out on you" list in the grocery store – or any store with carts – are people who put their kids in the bottom of the basket. Do they not understand that the childseat section with seatbelts specifically designed for the little bodies of children are there for a reason? An estimated 20,000 children are injured every year in the United States due to shopping carts. According to the thekansan.com, "Falls from shopping carts are among the leading causes of head injuries in young children, with one- and two-year-olds having the highest incidents of shopping cart-related injuries in the United States".
Several years ago I worked for Wal-Mart. In my four and half year employment I watched countless numbers of carts topple over with the faces of little people meeting the concrete floor in a split second. Blood gushing everywhere; ambulances being called on a few occasions. Pardon my Betty Davis candor here, but what the hell are the parents thinking? Little kids under two years old constantly being reminded they can’t lean over the edge as they grip the sides reaching for anything and everything on the shelves and racks.
The one thing I don’t understand is how the parent(s) of said children seem to be completely oblivious to the mass panick going on around them. As the child leans over the side and the cart starts to lean with it, the unwilling audience is gasping in air, waiting to exhale when the cart finally topples. All eyes darting back and forth wondering if anyone is going to say or do anything. Other Mom’s reaching out to grab the cart and set it back down in the nick of time, while the oblivious parent happily shops.
There should be a law about this. We have laws requiring children to be properly restrained in a vehicle; why not for shopping carts? At the least it should be considered willful neglect and charges filed against the parent or grandparent. There is no way this could or should be considered an accident. You don’t accidently ignore the warnings on the cart and put a child in the basket area. You don’t even need to be able to read as the warnings are pictoral in nature. Not to mention it’s plain common sense.
So back to the scene of the incident at the grocery store this evening. I and a friend were standing in line waiting for our turn. There were at least forty other people standing in line at various checkouts. A woman, who was obviously well over the age of 30, was in the self-checkout line while her under two years old daughter, or possibly granddaughter, was happily wandering around the basket of the cart. The little girl started to lean over the side trying to reach Mommy or Grandmommy. The cart started to lean heavily with the weight of the child. You could audibly hear the gasp from the unwilling audience. We’ll assume it was Mommy, Mommy looked at the cart and pushed the child back into the basket without saying a word and went back to trying to ring up her own groceries — and bag them. While her attention was on her tasks, the little girl began to climb over the side of the cart. An audible, "Holy S*&t" was heard coming from a gentleman standing in line watching the catastrophe about to happen. Mommy once again pushed the child back into the basket of the cart and returned to the task of now paying for her groceries. While she is trying to feed her coupons into the automated checkout, the little girl leans over the front of the cart and it slowly begins to back away from the counter onto which the child is trying to climb. I finally said outloud — I guess I lost my composure, "Oh my God, she’s going to fall." The woman is in the lane next to mine. She grabs the little girl and still puts her in the basket of the cart. She says something to her, but I don’t know what it was, my heart was throbbing in my ears at this point. She finishes paying for her groceries and looks around at all the people with the disgusted looks on our faces and has the unmitigated gall to smile at us as though we were glad to see her.
I felt like a coward at the time for not saying something to the woman. I know I should have. But, at the same time, I know myself well enough to know that what I would have said wouldn’t have been appropriate for a public place. I would have freaked out on her and made a huge scene embarrassing myself in the process. I wonder how many of the forty people standing around felt the same way. We were cowards together. Next time, I’m going to say something. I can’t stand idly by and torture myself that way and it might just save a child from serious injury. I can’t have that on my conscience when I have a voice and should use it.
“In addition to head and brain injuries, children visit the emergency room with cuts, bruises, and even broken limbs from shopping carts,” said Cherie Sage, state director for Safe Kids Kansas.
What would you have done if you were me?