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The Voice

Customer Etiquette 101: We are not a playground

     While many people argue that children should be banned from a wide array of public places, the reality is that parents really can’t afford to leave their little and not-so-little ones behind when they have to run daily errands. Those errands almost always include a trip to some sort of retailer, and in today’s world, that usually means some chain retailer like Target or Wal-Mart. This often exposes those poor souls who are trapped in the retail industry and reliant upon it to put food into their own children’s mouths to the worst examples of parenting that this world has to offer. It turns young people rather quickly into ornery retail veterans way too quickly, and feeds into the stereotype that the younger generation doesn’t like or want children, and that they don’t want to work.

     Should one be allowed to tell someone else how to parent? Not really, but there really are a few things that might make the public question the sanity or possibly even morals. So, what are some of these offenses that might get you a few questionable looks? These are some from my experience:

1) “That” Mom/Dad/Parent: This is one I’ve heard and seen personally. A kid sees something they want and don’t really think about societal pressures. Pink folder? Unicorn water bottle? Kid wants it, they want it. However, I’ve seen several parents become outright enraged at their little kids for wanting to break from the gender norms that they have no concept of yet. One parent even let her child know that she didn’t care what he wanted, she wasn’t going to be “that mom.” Because it’s so horribly embarrassing to spend 17 cents so your kid has a folder for school that they actually like. Solid pink is a terrible color.

2) Nowhere to be found: This is one of the biggest issues we run into with tweens, especially for those big retailers that are also in rural areas. Kids who are just old enough to get on the bus themselves during the school year need to go somewhere during summer vacation, and unfortunately, that somewhere is usually the local Wal-Mart. This becomes a problem when these kids have clearly not been given guidelines for behavior. It’s unacceptable to do any of the following in a store: ride the motorized carts around when you clearly don’t need them, knock products off of the shelves, leave food garbage on the shelves/floor, or sexually harass the employees. This isn’t just for tweens either. It goes for all of those students who think retail employees have countless hours to waste by cleaning up the lotion you dumbed on the floor or repairing the display shelves you snapped in half. News flash: we don’t get paid enough for that.

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3) The Excusers: This is almost worse than those parents who don’t show up to the store with their kids, and again, it’s a huge issue with tweens and slightly younger. These parents have a habit of getting angry with employees who try to correct their kid’s bad behavior, and they don’t seem to care that a store is not a playground. A kid is throwing a ball around the store and told not to do it? No, they have to be allowed to do that to figure out if they want it. Riding around on the carts with no reason to use them? They’re customers though, and it keeps them busy. Knocking toys off the shelves and kicking them under things? Nope, they’re allowed to do that, and now a complain will be filed against you, Mr. Employee, for asking me not to allow my children to destroy products in the store.

4) The Screamers: This is one of the most common complaints about kids in public places—they scream. They throw tantrums, demanding they get the goldfish crackers that they didn’t want five minutes ago, or else their parents might as well kill them. Yes, we hear this all the time. It’s normal to us. In fact, retail workers tend to become numb to this screaming, and we aren’t exactly blaming the kids or the parents here. But in some cases, especially those children who are a little older, tantrums aren’t nearly as understandable. If a kid is having a massive screaming fit, please, do everyone a favor: take them outside and have them calm down. We’ll even hold your cart for you at Customer Service. Otherwise, you’ll be having to explain to everyone around that, no, you’re not kidnapping that child. She’s yours; she’s just really cranky today.

     Parents and future parents, don’t fret. Your kids aren’t going to be thrown out of a store just because they’re having a tantrum. However, do understand that employees are allowed to ask your older children to leave the store if they’re being destructive. As for those older children and even teens? We are absolutely allowed to call the cops to come take you out for vandalism or harassment. They’re crimes, not games. So, next time you’re in the store, remember that acting a little mature can really save you and your parents a lot more than a headache.

Arianna is a senior Russian and History major. She is Editor in Chief for The Voice

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