Beware: baby strollers
Beware! Curmudgeon reporting. My topic and irritation of the day is baby strollers. In particular, those modern-day humongous contraptions on wheels containing small children, those gigantic rickshaws pushed around in supermarkets and shopping malls by adoring parents or nannies shoving and edging their way through narrow aisles, hapless customers fleeing in all directions in an effort to avoid them. Some of these devices are the size of a Cadillac and just as luxurious, with every option known to mankind. I'm told some of them sell for upwards of $600, or more. Having paid just $75 for my first car, a slick '48 Chevy convertible, I am befuddled by some extravagance.
Just the other day I was in one of Lake Oswego's finest supermarkets shopping in the produce department when a young woman, pushing a double-wide with huge rubber tires came, charging up the aisle, the stroller containing deep within its recesses two tots, both boys I think, one I would guess to be about nine months, the other perhaps two years of age, each strapped in and screaming loudly. I swear this massive machine was equipped with no less than three cup holders (one, of course, holding the ubiquitous latte from Starbucks, Chuck's, Peet's or Blue Moon), a small refrigerator hidden beneath the frame and a Weber charcoal grill hanging from the backend. It was large enough to house a small family. I've seen RVs less well equipped and smaller.
I exaggerate, of course, but as I raced to get out of the way I could see behind her the figure of an elderly woman sprawled across what remained of a pyramid of beefsteak tomatoes, her feet shod in fashionable New Balance running shoes, her legs sticking straight up in the air. It was not a pretty sight. The pathway of strewn bodies extended behind this young woman almost as far as the checkout stand. I leaped to one side just in time as she swished past me, her hands steady on the handle bars, the huge rubber-tired, spoke wheels wheezing across the linoleum floor, the youngsters still bellowing in unison, her determined eagle eye fixed on a bargain in the dairy case. I barely made it to safety. Or at least, I thought I had made it to safety. Suddenly the devil-mom turned sharply, as a new destination took precedence, and back she came, straight at me. It was too late. I quickly joined the poor lady still stretched out across the beefsteak tomatoes.
As we helped each other out of the produce wbin I watched the young mother speeding off, totally oblivious to the carnage she had caused, or perhaps simply uncaring that she had laid waste to the better part of the patronage of the store. My bin companion and I brushed ourselves off, stared sadly at the new juice stains we now wore, and checked ourselves for broken bones. Fortunately, there were none. A little embarrassment, perhaps, but nothing more. A young employee of the store was already busy cleaning up the floor and trying to restack what was left of the pyramid of tomatoes as I gathered up my produce purchases, re-bagged them and headed for the checkout stand.
And there she was again, now mowing down the folks in the express line, the toddlers still in an uproar, customers bouncing off her bumper guards like bowling pins, flying every which way. I hide behind a stack of Weight-Watcher pizzas by the frozen food case until it appeared she and the children were safely out of the store and then quietly took my goods to the farthest checkout counter, fearing she might return at any moment.
A short time later, however, as I walked to my car, I saw her again, now loading her groceries into a huge Mercedes SUV and struggling to collapse the stroller so it would fit into the rear compartment of the mammoth vehicle, the children both now firmly encased in car seats equally as luxurious and well equipped as the stroller had been, and still hollering at the top of their lungs. For a brief moment I almost felt a twinge of pity for the young woman. It couldn't be easy having all the right stuff to take care of and two young children as well.
However, as she stepped around the car to climb into the driver's seat, no longer hidden behind the massive stroller, I could see, to my dismay, she was clearly pregnant. I'm not sure if they manufacture a triple-wide stroller that will accommodate three children but I'll bet they do.
I am now seriously considering a home delivery service. Or better yet, Meals on Wheels.
Ronald Talney writes a monthly column for The Review.
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