1. I'm not a kid person. All my plants are dead. I'm not planning on parenting. I hold off on pets because I'm one of the most selfish people in existence. Children = howler monkeys.
2. There's a whole lot of kids up in the Wal-Mart. Most of them are good enough. It's the parents who ought to be shot and hanged.
3. When one wanders up to the Service Desk, disheveled, crying and face covered with a mix of candy bar and nose leakage, saying that "I lost my brother," ... I'm not unfeeling. I'm just not quite equipped to handle the situation.
4. Me to him: "OK. Where's your brother? Is he in the store? How old is he?"
5. "He's 12. We was in the toys and he went off to find our mother." What great fantastic parenting going on here.
6. Me: "What's your mother's name? We'll call her. You want to sit down right there? I'm sure she'll be here in just a minute."
7. He give me the brother's name and the mother's name.
8. Some bratty punks getting a check cashed melted at the sight of the little ragamuffin and were crowded around him, asking him for high-fives and telling him he was a good boy and asking him all sorts of questions to get the stormclouds off his face.
9. I'm just not good with children.
10. We wait. The punks sit down next to the kid and tell him he's being really brave, ask him how old he is and more questions. He's clearly upset about not finding the brother and they're doing their best to keep his chin up.
11. We wait some more.
12. I'm getting alarmed at this point. Where is the other kid? Where's the mother?
13. Just as I pick up the phone to call a manager and start the process for a CODE ADAM and to have the police called because this kid is obviously not supervised, the older brother walks by.
14. The older brother is unrepentant and pissed off at the little kid. "Where have you been? We've been waiting in the car. Mom's ready to go. C'mon."
15. Like I said. Great parenting going on here. I guess she expected the kids to walk across a parking lot by themselves and dodge traffic like some sort of Wal-Mart version of "Frogger."
16. I remain grateful to the formerly bratty punks who had been acting up for helping me out with the kid. Maternal and paternal instincts pop up in the strangest places.