You and your baby arrive at the grocery store ready for business. You have just a few items to purchase — paper towels, dental floss, milk, and cold cuts. It should be a relatively simple procedure… but you have little time to spare. Already your little one is yawning, and you know a full-blown meltdown — your child’s automatic response to nap deprivation — is less than twenty minutes away. Your mission is fraught with danger; each item on your list presents unforeseen perils. How will you handle this challenge? And are you willing to do what it takes, run over other customers if necessary, to meet your objectives? Take this quiz to see how you stack up when it comes to ethics in the aisles.
20 Minutes to Meltdown . . .
1. You reach the paper towel aisle and grab an economy-size package (enough to last your family for about three days). Unfortunately, your baby has stealthily grabbed a roll of toilet paper from a display and, in one Jenga-esque move, has caused the demolition of an entire toilet-paper tower. Do you:
(a) Walk away quickly and hope that the mess will be blamed on the family of six at the other end of the aisle.
(b) Attempt to rebuild the tower, despite your suspicions that whoever put this thing together had a degree in engineering and a team of Freemasons at his disposal.
15 Minutes to Meltdown . . .
2. You arrive at the dental-care aisle and grab some floss. Your daughter is fascinated by the packaging — an irresistible combination of cardboard and plastic. It’s the perfect distraction. However, after a few minutes you discover that she’s turned said package into a chew toy. Do you:
(a) Put it back in the aisle for some other sucker to purchase.
(b) Show the cashier the one non-drenched spot on the package where she can safely place her fingers. And then think of new places to grocery shop.
10 Minutes to Meltdown . . .
3. You arrive at the deli line at the same time as an elderly couple. The wife, who is standing with the help of a walker, begins cooing at your baby, while her husband analyzes the ham and grumbles. Do you:
(a) Wait for the wife to say to her husband, “Oh, let her go first, she has a baby.” (And, just in case the offer isn’t forthcoming, tickle your baby to elicit a giggle. Resist that, grandma!)
(b) Let the couple go first, even though you know they will question every sale item, complain about the thickness of the slices, and order about fifty pounds of meat. Face it, they’re old and trump you in the obligatory kindness hierarchy.
5 Minutes to Meltdown . . .
4. You’ve paid for your items and go to unload your groceries into your car. You suddenly realize that your baby is holding a pack of Altoids that you never picked up and certainly never paid for. Do you:
(a) Dash into the car and speed away. Not only do you have all your groceries, but now your breath smells like peppermint. It’s a win/win!
(b) Go back inside and wait to speak to someone at the courtesy desk. As your baby begins to wail and attract the attention of everyone in sight, you abashedly admit that your child is a kleptomaniac. (Luckily, with all the chaos, the customer service rep is eager to usher you out of the store.)
If you answered mostly A: Congratulations! You beat the baby meltdown clock with your ruthless efficiency and total disregard for others. You are teaching your child important life lessons, and preparing her for a bright career on Wall Street or in politics. Good job!
If you answered mostly B: Sure, you’re teaching your kid all about courtesy and respect. But let’s face it: It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. Dig through all the milk cartons, leave your shopping cart in the middle of the aisle, cut in front of someone on the deli line. If anyone complains, do the adult thing: blame it on your kid. Or, better yet, do the American thing: blame it on someone else’s kid.
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