|Image: Bing Images|
It is not all that unusual here in Tallahassee to see a bus like the one pictured above parked directly in front of the entrance to Publix (our grocery store, whose motto is "Where Shopping is a Pleasure"). The buses I see are usually delivering a group of residents who live at a local retirement home, so they can do some grocery shopping.
The bus I am blogging about was different. It was the wrong time for the retirement-home crowd - a Sunday evening (you know, that time of the night when your Monday-itis is already starting to flare and you've still got a couple of loads of laundry to do and some children's homework to check if you can just pick up something quick for dinner). And the demographics of the group pouring out of the bus (which turns out to have been a limo bus) were quite different.
The activity level was sky high as children streamed off of the bus. I heard one of the adults say, "8 year old birthday party - we're exhausted." Hmm, I thought - they must have had to pick up a few grocery items and asked the "party bus" to stop quickly so the adults could run in for bread and milk. I was not yet "getting" why all the children had gotten off the limo bus.
Then I walked into Publix and the running/screaming/banshee wails ensued.
I later learned (from a Publix employee) that the kids were on a "scavenger hunt" and Publix was one of the places where they had to procure something on their hunt list.
I thought I could get my reaction out of my system by a tweet that evening that essentially said "Hm, shopping at Publix not that much of a pleasure tonight with the scavenger hunt screamers." Interestingly enough, the follow up conversations I had centered around the limo part - not the running/screaming part.
Maybe I am turning into one of those curmudgeonly people I never wanted to be. Maybe I have lost the thrill of spontaneity as it applies to children's birthday joy. Maybe I'm jealous that someone could afford a limo for their 8 year old's birthday celebration. Maybe the part of me that always tends to ask permission first rather than forgiveness later is just aghast.
My daughter participated in a methodically well-organized mall scavenger hunt once that was adorable ... and loaded with adults to supervise the "teams." I don't really have any problem with that (and she had a blast without irritating other shoppers or retailers).
But it just bugs me that a parent would unleash that kind of nuttiness in a grocery store*. There were safety issues with the running kids who could have knocked someone down (or hurt themselves). There were ambience issues with the general shrieking. There was lack of respect.
One of my correspondents that evening asked, "if they get a limo for their 8th birthday, what'll they get for their 9th?" I'm more concerned that they won't say "thank you" for any of it.
*Caveat! I know my kid (one of them at least) has had his plentiful share of awful Publix moments. I know I am in a glass house. Throw those stones. :-)