grocery shopping can be hazardous to one's health.
I'm not referring to the threat of a heavy laundry detergent jug
falling from a top shelf and landing on your foot - although that
would be hurtful.
Slipping on a floor saturated with soda water streaming from a broken
bottle wouldn't be much fun either.
But laundry soap in free fall and sodas gone wild are not what I
have in mind in regard to hazardous grocery shopping.
The worst danger, and you can quote me on this, are little kids.
Because we're bigger than they are, we should not be intimidated,
but keep in mind that hazards come in little packages.
This is what they do:
While Mommy is busy looking at labels and loading her basket with
various items, including the obligatory month's supply of sugarcoated
cereal, the little ones escape. They run amok, zooming up and down
the aisles, bumping into shoppers and merchandise right and left.
Special displays, artfully arranged, soon lose their shape as one
can is knocked over, and then another.
The kiddies scream a lot, too, but that is a good thing. It's like
hearing a wailing siren warning of the approaching brat-zillas,
and this gives us time to flee.
As for customers on their hit list, the little terminators do not
discriminate. They'd just as soon slam into a lame senior citizen
on a walker as they would a healthy young jogger in sweats. Doesn't
matter. Just get out their way.
In an effort to work the problem, my favorite grocery store started
providing mobile units for parents to maneuver around the store,
hauling groceries and kids. First time I saw one of those things,
I couldn't decide whether it was an over-sized golf cart or a farm
A bit frightened, I sought refuge in another aisle, along with that
senior citizen on a walker and the healthy jogger in sweats. We're
all scared. We're pedestrians, for heaven's sake.
Please, store manager. Think of something else, because this isn't
I may have the solution, inspired by the building on West Defee
at the corner of Gaillard in Baytown.
Now home to the Baytown Historical Museum, it originally housed
a post office.
When the building opened in the 1930s, it had a feature similar
to no other post office in the nation. Only a woman postmaster would
have thought of this -- a special place where rambunctious children
could be corralled.
In other post offices, Postmaster Flo McElhanny had watched mothers
trying to buy stamps and transact various items of postal business
while struggling to keep up with their over-zealous offspring.
The safety zone that she created looked like a big playpen. It contained
small chairs and had a fence to keep children from wandering around
That's the ticket: Fence 'em in.
The innovation proved to be so popular that McElhany suggested that
all post offices should provide these special zones for the young
ones. She even put it in writing, sending it a formal recommendation
to then- Postmaster General James "Big Jim" Farley, but there is
no record that he ever responded.
Too bad. It was a good idea.
Think it would work in grocery stores?
© Wanda Orton
Baytown Sun Columnist
2, 2019 column