Terrors in the Grocery Store

I was almost run down by a grocery cart in the grocery store today.  It was being steered by a 7-year-old girl who was running up and down the aisles with it, followed by her brother who appeared to be about 5 years old.  Their father was following them, making no attempt to get them under control as they careened from side to side, laughing wildly.  I guess he was shopping because he’d throw items into the cart as it would whiz past.  Maybe it was a new form of speed shopping that I wasn’t yet familiar with.   These kiddos were spreading mayhem from one end of the store to the other.  You could follow their progress by listening for the shrieks and watching to see where the crowds were parting – quickly.

I caught up with them again as I was checking out in the “magic check-out section.”  It’s not really called that except by me but it’s where you go if you’ve used the little scanners to scan your items and bag your own groceries as you’ve gone through the store.  When you finish up, you just scan a final barcode at the register, then all your items magically appear on the screen, the total shows up and you pay.  Your groceries are already in bags in your cart so the whole process is quick.  As I pulled up to my register, the two children were “collecting” all the scanners that had been left by previous shoppers from all the other registers and running around playing with them.  Of course the father was paying no attention to this.  Finally, the grocery clerk in charge of that section came over to them and took the scanners away.

After they left the area, the clerk came over to me and said, “Oh my but those children were wild.”

“You can say that again,” I agreed.

“I find myself wondering about their mother,” she said.

“Well, I can certainly see why their mother might not want to go grocery shopping with them, ” I replied.  “She’s probably at home in bed with the covers pulled over her head hoping that they’ll forget their home address.”

OK, maybe I shouldn’t have said that.  It probably wasn’t very nice.  And lest you think that I don’t like children, let me put a disclaimer here.  I DO like children as long as they are cute, cuddly, and quiet.  If they’re loud and misbehaving, I still like them if they’re related.  But I really have to struggle to come up with any warm feelings for kids that are brats or bullies and have no family ties to myself.  That’s why God, in His infinite wisdom, occasionally puts kids like that into my path when I’m not behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.  He forces me to confront my prejudices.

I saw the man and his children one last time as I headed out to my car.  I could hear them coming before they came into view and then there they were, struggling for possession of the loaded cart while the father tried to grab their hands in the busy parking lot.   I wondered what their situation was.  Why was the father doing the shopping?  Was he a single father?  A widower?  Was he even the father or was he a boyfriend trying to help out while the mother worked?  Did he have anyone at all to give him tips on managing two rambunctious kids?

It’s hard to be judgmental and empathetic, too.  When you start to try to understand another person’s situation, you begin the journey of seeing that person through God’s eyes.  I prayed for that man as I pulled out of the parking lot and started for home.  I prayed that God would give him an extra measure of grace today and wisdom as he dealt with the children in his care and I prayed that those kids would find someone who could gently bring some balance and structure into their lives while still nurturing their creativity.  And since I’m no saint, I’ll admit that I also hoped that I wouldn’t run into them again anytime soon.

© copyright 2012 – All rights reserved

Hot Flashed Funk

  • Oh my! I once had a lady who let her kid run wildly around the store by himself because she knows well end up taking care of him. When we called on the intercom to find his mother she never responded until she was done and said thanks for taking care of her kid… I write stories of working in a grocery store and boy it’s not about going shopping for food anymore =\



  • YIKES! That’s bad. Every once in awhile you run into the kid that screams for 30 minutes straight while his mom ignores him or the kids that fight and argue or…run up and down the aisles. It is one of the hazards of shopping – anywhwere.

    Good for you to be willing for the Holy Spirit to show you that the dad might just need some grace and help…..and for actually praying for him! I don’t think I’d have been so gracious. 🙂

    I’ve never heard of scanning and bagging your groceries as you shop! That would make using the ‘eco friendly’ shopping bags so much more convenient! I like that idea!

  • That was real nice of you Dee, pray you don’t run into them again. Hum, you should have marched across the parking lot, scolded them for what they did wrong and then asked what the situation was and did he need any help. That way we would have all known if he was a single parent, perhaps a widow, or what the situation would have been then I’d not been wondering the rest of the night.
    I loved the story, reminded me of the man I heard on the next isle in the grocery store making zooming noises and the kid laughing at the top of her lungs. When I rounded the corner it was my grand-daughter and son in law, he claims Anna was bored with shopping.


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