Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Did Wal-Mart try to steal a baby?

There's a MySpace rant that dropped today from a woman who says she was in a store when there a CODE ADAM called. She says that a security guard demanded she hand over her baby.

1. Read her MySpace rant here.
2. Read the back and forth at Consumerist here.

I have been away from a computer nearly all of today and not even able to knock out a post on my phone. Now that I can see the furor, this is what I think.

1. We all know what I think of the trash that shops in Wal-Mart. I seriously doubt this went down the way she describes - with a Rent-A-Cop "demanding" she hand over her baby.

2. The Consumerist is being somewhat needlessly sensationalistic. Nobody tried to "steal" a baby. Wal-Mart steals your money. Not your howlers. Believe me. NOBODY there wants your crotch spawn. [disclosure: Consumerist sends a great deal of traffic to Behind the Counter]

3. CODE ADAM is a federal program created and named in memory of 6-year-old Adam Walsh, who was was abducted from a Florida shopping mall in 1981 and later found murdered. There are SPECIFIC steps businesses must follow when a child is reported lost or missing.

4. ONE OF THOSE STEPS IS: If the child is found accompanied by someone other than a parent or legal guardian, reasonable efforts to delay their departure will be used without putting the child, staff, or visitors at risk.

5. This was a baby. For whatever reason, the security guard had cause to believe that this baby may have been the lost baby.

6. If you lost your baby in a 200,000 square foot store, would you want a woman - who by her own admission was screaming obscenities - walking right out the door with it?


7. How the hell do you lose a damn baby? Seriously. How in the hell do you lose a damn baby? Howler monkeys I understand. They crawl away. Babies? It ain't like they gonna push the crib from 0-60 in 3.5 seconds or anything.

8. Rent-a-cops are dumb. I've never met a smart one. Have you?

9. I am so, so, so sure this could have been handled with more tact and grace.

10. If you have been so wronged, why would you go home and rant on MySpace? why wouldn't you drive to the police station and start filing complaints and talking to lawyers?

Anyway. That's my punditry. No great insight. I just think that all parties involved should have shut up and calmed down. We as a society are all too ready to grab, jerk, howl and yell out that we are being mistreated. And the rent-a-cop was probably a bit too fiesty. But he thought she had snatched a baby. Put yourself in their shoes. Nobody was thinking straight.

The lesson here? The only way to win is not to shop at the House of Wal.


Michael said...

I think it is more than reasonable to make sure that they took every possible step to prevent a child from being snatched. While she was not treated well, Walmart DID give give her purchase. As a parent I think she would have been more forgiving, given the situation.

I am sure if it had been her baby missing she would have wanted every person stopped.

DolfanDad said...

as a parent, if I lost my baby or child in wal-mart I would EXPECT the exits to be monitored and better yet sealed. I would expect all security guards to not let any children out of the store until they can verify that the child indeed belongs to that person.

Of course I wouldn't be in a wal-mart, but put yourself in the mothers shoes who lost their child (any sane and rational mother that is) and I think its pretty understandable. Typical wal-mart story.

Bruce said...

I doubt the mother behaved all that rationally in such a situation but it was her child they were reaching for. If it did happen as the lady related, the store handled it as badly as they possibly could have. The manager should have sent security to the doors and then approached her and explained, CALMLY, from a distance, what the situation was and that they were requesting that she show the child was hers, emphasizing how bad the other mother must feel. In other words appealing to her motherly instincts instead of riling them up.

But a store where the employees presume someone who steals an entire human baby would stop to purchase a couple of bottles of juice isn't exactly employing the best and the brightest to begin with (unlike the store where bbcamerica works).

Anonymous said...

When you shop at House of Wal, the terrorists win.

Emy said...

The comment I see on the Consumerist story that I think is most appropriate is along the lines of "we have the obligation to not act like screaming lunatics when involved in this sort of situation." Yes, the security guard did his job poorly...he probably could have handled that a lot better. However, the mother needs to calm the hell down. You know that if her kid was the one missing, she'd expect that every single W*M employee put the beatdown on any person in the store who's within 10 feet of any kid, in an attempt to recover hers. CHILL THE HELL OUT, ya know?

Anonymous said...

How does anyone know if the child is with a parent or guardian? My niece is adopted and is not even the same ethnicity as her mom.

FARfetched said...

Hand over the baby? If that's what actually happened, that was more than mishandled. That was stupidity matching the magnitude of some of BBC's greatest hits. The smart thing to do would have been to send anyone with a kid to the McD's (or whatever eatery area they have) and wait for the cops to arrive.

But yeah, you're right: how do you LOSE a baby?

Anonymous said...

Did anyone think to call the Police at the store? My first words would have been "You'd better get the police here now because if you insist on trying to take my child I am going to kick you A$$!!!" Seriously! Anybody that has half a brain would NOT handle that situation by grabbing for anybody's child.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what has been said many times here. IF it happened the way she says, the guard was very wrong and needs to be dealt with (I think firing is a little much -- but a D Day maybe?).

She is obviously a good mother in the sense that she was protecting her child; I think she will calm down and see the other side soon. She will realise that they needed to confirm the baby was hers and her behaviour (according to her own description) was erratic and suspicious. She was nervous and scared long before the guard showed up (she went into detail about the cashier's actions so obviously she knew something was up)

Her pride was probably also hurt having everyone stare at her while she ranted; that may be harder to get past.

I really would like to know if the missing baby was found or if this lady's personal drama distracted too many employees who should have continued to look.

That being said, I cannot guarantee how I would have reacted under the same circumstances.

Anonymous said...

She posted an update to the story here: http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=48433983&blogID=309036047

She says that "I also had already shown my ID/wallet/pictures to the security guard before flipping out."

High-Maintenance & Hostile Heidi said...

Wow. This is very interesting.

I'm not quite sure what to think. The guard at Wal-Mart could have probably handled things a little better but really how many times has he probably been involved in a Code Adam?

If someone was accusing her of having someone else's baby, how do you really prove it without resorting to blood tests, etc.? I'm not sure if I would be so quick to be litigious as she threatened, but I do think she has a right to be upset.

I don't have children so I can't say I know how she feels, but I imagine I would probably flip out, too, if someone said the child was someone else's and then reached for him or her.

Anonymous said...

My first words to the rent a cop would be to ask for his badge number, and ask what accredited police agency he belonged to. When he (inevitably) says that he isn't an actual police officer, I would then tell ask him to leave.

If that request is not honored, I would then call (and inform the rent-a-cop) that I am calling 911, to request that police be sent to the store on grounds that I am being falsely detained.

Wal-Mart does not have the authority to detain anyone (thank God), and it sounds to me that the Rent-A-Cop was just trying to exert his faux authority even after the woman was cooperative. That said, my first phone call would have been to the police to complain and request a police report be filed. It was nice that Wal-Mart comped her bill, but the Rent-A-Cop clearly abused his position (if she hasn't embelished what happened).

afurrica said...

I'm not saying she should have handed her baby to the security guard (hell, no), but...what did she think was going to happen? That Wal*Mart would snatch her baby and permanently reassign its custody to the mother who had misplaced hers?

Why not just calmly say "No, this is MY daughter. I have pictures of the two of us in my wallet, see? Where is the mother who can't find her child? Let me grab my stuff and we'll go see her. She'll tell you that this isn't her daughter. No problem."

I mean, sure, that wouldn't make a very good story, but it probably would have taken the same amount of time and made everybody's day a lot easier.

Glen said...

I've noticed a lot of comments (and BBC's) kind of ragging on the woman for flipping out. Obviously, you are not parents. As a father of two, I can guarantee that I would have flipped right the hell out if some guy told me to hand over my child. Anyone know what happens when you get between a mother bear and her cub? She will try to kill you. That same instinct is in a human mother, just somewhat tempered by our greater intelligence and societal training, but try to take a woman's baby from her, and she will go into full-on defense mode. I think this woman was totally right. If there was a code Adam, the store should have been locked down and police should have been called.

Thiz Bad Princezz... said...

I personally think that she inflated the story a little. Would a security gaurd just demand to hand over the baby without first asking for proof of purchase? Yes, it was at Wal-Mart, but I think that there was probably some dialoge along the lines of "is this your baby?" or maybe "Yo, did you pop this thing out?" before demanding to take the child.

Also, yelling and cursing at someone is not a real convincing way to show that this child is indeed yours. You'll just look like a crazy and they'll think that you probably stole the baby.

I'm not trying to say that Wal-Mart is absolutely perfect, but the lady could have taken a couple more steps to insure that something like this never happened.

yoyo said...

I'm not a parent, but I can imagine that if I were, I'd be pretty protective of the sodding thing. So yeah, if some mindless goon of a store security guard randomly started demanding I give him my child, I'd get quite obscene, too..

Anonymous said...

Glen-- TY, I was about to say the same thing. Most of you saying this woman over-reacted are obviously not parents. You are expecting her to act calm and rational and have perfect hindsight while she's in a situation where a stragner rent-a-cop is demanding she hand over her daughter (allegedly). I can so see this happening at China-Mart. I would have gone far more ape shit on his ass, that I can guarantee. I would demand that the police be called and I would be calling an attorney before I left the store. You can bet that if for no other reason than to set an example, I'd report China-Mart to every news agency I could and haul their asses to court. Rent-a-cop wouldn't be worth filing a civil suit against for obvious reasons but I would demand he be fired. To say maybe he never dealt with a Code Adam is not an acceptable excuse. He should have been trained how to behave/react in these situations and that training should never have included asking a MOTHER to hand over her CHILD (and I'm sure his training did not).

Anonymous said...

How the fuck do you let someone 'roll away' with your BABY? WTH? You don't deserve to be a parent! When I have to take my baby to the store with me, I do not move more than half an arm's length from the cart and my hands never leave the cart, one is on it all times.

afurrica said...

Ah, the old "You don't understand, you don't have kids" argument. Thanks, I have a child. I just don't believe that the best way to safeguard that child's best interests and personal security are always to freak out and/or assault somebody (and yes, I realize that she didn't assault anybody, but with so many comments saying she'd be justified in doing that, I'll address it). Sometimes staying calm is the best way to get through a given situation.

Yes, if she was fending off a kidnapping, she'd be justified in a freak out, both emotional and physical, but what happened was a case of mistaken identity and (massive) stupidity on the part of the security guard. In the face of that, keeping your head puts you ahead of the game.

Anonymous said...

wow consumerist sensationalizing a story... that never happens.

Anonymous said...

affurica---how nice that in any situation, you are able to maintain composure. How lovely that you can stand back and judge this person's actions ad know precisely how you would have behaved in the situation.

READ--many posters stated they didn't have children.

We bow before your perfection.

Nina - Not A Llama, but rather The Empress! said...

Makes me glad I don't shop at the House of Wal. I can honestly say, though, that ANYONE who trys to reach for my children without my express permission would be drawing back a bloody nub. I don't concealed carry (even though I could), but if I *did*, they'd be doing a massive cleanup on register whatever. I don't use obscenities as a general rule because I don't want my children to use them, BUT if someone did what the HoW R-A-C allegedly tried, I'd be giving him explicit directions on how to do unnatural acts to himself.