Oops, Lost My Kid, I’ll Just Keep Shopping

Kids get lost in stores all the time.  It’s just a fact of life.  It brings on fear and panic from wondering where your little tot has toddled off to.  Though, in my years working in retail, food service, what-have-you, I have never encountered so many parents who just don’t seem to give a shit that they lost their kid.

We once had a little girl, dirty face, no shoes, hair in knots get brought into the store.  She was found trying to cross the busy street outside the store.  Apparently her parents were shopping in the store and she had wondered off, all the way out the doors.  They either never noticed or never cared.  We reunited the three and they continued shopping.

Later, they came up because the mother wanted to make a credit card payment.  These parents looked like they were barely even 16, covered in tattoos and badly colored hair in many different rainbow hues.  As the parents were facing me while I processed the payment, the little girl wandered off again.  I pointed this out and the father turns around unmoved and goes to fetch his spawn without a care.

“Ha ha, we lost you once already, ha ha,” he says as he drags her back to where we all were.  She begins to wander off again and they don’t pay attention.  And quite frankly, I hoped a nice family would pick her up and take her home.  Poor child was dirty.

And recently, the first day back from my six-day vacation we had a child turn up wandering around on his own.  He spoke Spanish only, we thought, since that’s all he was responding in.  We asked him his mother’s name, he would only tell us the Spanish word for Monster/Ghost (I honestly cannot remember it now).  I did an overhead page and we also did a code yellow trying to find his mother.

Finally, after about ten minutes, one of our boys working in softlines finds the mother and brings her to guest service.  I watched her come up.  She looked irritated.  She did not look concerned or worried, nor did she have a single tear in her eye.  She looked pissed.  She calls out his name and he looks at all of us and then reluctantly begins to walk toward her.  She begins chiding him in Spanish and one of our Spanish-speaking team members talks to the mother.  I had guests so I could no longer listen in.

From the moment the mother touched him, he began crying and yelling.  She picked him up and put him in the shopping cart and they rolled off toward the girls’ section.  Once I could no longer see them from my perch, he starts screaming again and one of my cashiers tells me that she’s pretty sure he was yelling “no, stop.”  He cried for the last twenty or so minutes that they were in the store.

Then, miraculously, when they came to check out, the mother spoke perfect English to the cashier and to her son.

So, why the hell could she not have responded to my overhead page asking for someone to come meet their party at the service desk?

She had probably lost her child for almost 15 minutes before she came up to the service desk and I’m pretty sure it’s only because she was flagged down.

How do you just not care that your child is lost?  I’m not much of a kid person, but come on!  You don’t just shrug it off like you lost the ugly dog you inherited from your dead neighbor.  No.  This is your child.  People do terrible things to small children.

The fact enrages me so much sometimes it’s hard to see straight.

So, next time you’re out shopping, don’t worry about your children.  Just keep shopping and don’t pay attention to them.  The employees are your babysitters, too.  Which, by the way, that will be $25 per hour, thanks.