Sunday, January 02, 2005

Plus, Babysitters Get Paid More

This article in the Washington Post touches on just one of the many reasons that I call the Kid's Section at Big Bookstore the Vortex of Evil. The article discusses children's story hours at Big Bookstore and Rival Bookstore, and how they provide a valuable service to parents who can shop in peace while their kids are entertained by booksellers. Here's a choice quote: "If you think about how clever Barnes & Noble and Borders are: While they are effectively baby-sitting your children, you have two hours of uninterrupted book shopping," said Paula Quint, president of the Children's Book Council, based in New York."

Someday, I plan to write at length about all the many reasons that booksellers hate to get sucked down into that maelstrom of malevolence known simply as "Kids", but at the top of any such list of reasons would be parents who leave their children to be babysat by booksellers while they shop. If these parents had any clue about the kind of people who hang out in bookstores (not to mention the kind of people who work in bookstores), they would chain their children to their sides as they browse the store. But no, they feel it is perfectly safe to let their spawn, some so young they can barely locomote let alone speak, run amok unattended in the children's section as if it were some sort of Safe Zone. At least once a week I find one of these grubby little urchins playing alone with no adult in sight.

Frankly, I could give a shit about their welfare* - I mean, if their parents don't then why should I? But being a dutiful employee of Big Bookstore (and keenly aware of potential legal liabilities) I take said urchin by the hand, attempt to elicit a name, and page the parents. The reaction of the parents ranges from embarrassment at being exposed as neglectful, to outrage that I have dared to disturb their shopping experience by worrying about the welfare of their disgusting progeny.

So it was with some gratitude that I saw this Letter to the Editor in yesterday's Post. I'm going to beg the author's forgiveness and quote it in it's entirety:

Paula Quint, president of the Children's Book Council, gave a nod of approval to parents who make a habit of dropping off their young ones in the children's section of a bookstore. She said that Borders and Barnes & Noble "are effectively baby-sitting your children, [while] you have two hours of uninterrupted book shopping" ["Bookstores' Story Time Not Just for Kids; Parents Use Occasion to Browse and Buy," Metro, Dec. 25]. As a former Borders employee, I wish to disabuse parents of this notion.

People who work in retail suffer from low pay ($6.25 an hour to start), chronic understaffing, a heavy workload and constant customer service requests. They are not nannies.

Booksellers are not trained or necessarily inclined to make sure the toddler being dragged out the front door -- a daily occurrence -- is really with his or her parent.

Drink your latte, buy your CD, but don't let your child out of your sight.



Right on.

*I like kids. I really do. But only if they are related to me in some way by either blood or friendship. I feel no special obligation to look out for the welfare of the children of strangers absent some immediate and obvious threat. If you disagree with this attitude, bite me.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

'(not to mention the kind of people who work in bookstores)' that long-haired, bearded, borderline sociopath who shelves in Kids overnight.

9:22 PM  
Blogger meateater said...

Hey has anyone seen what kinds of things go on in the kids section. I'll just mention a few, #1 the Twins, #2 the opened porn magazines, #3 the stuffed animals that have been drooled on and probably urinated on. Need I say more, well maybe I should. The kids section is total ASS!

1:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:27 AM  
Blogger ereshkigal said...

Man, that long-haired guy creeps me RIGHT THE FUCK OUT. It's a good thing he works overnight. He'd probably scare the kids and make them cry.

3:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Children's Book Council
Paula Quint
12 W 37th St
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10018

: )

10:21 AM  
Blogger bushmeister0 said...

Hey, thanks for posting my letter on your blog. I had actually lost the link so I was pleased to find that it had found a good home.

I really hate those lazy bastards who think we're their babysitters, while single mom goes off to the cafe to make time with doctor guy from the hospital next door who trolls around the store in his greens talking about his latest brain surgery patient. Why did you have the kid in the first place?

And I really love the parents that come in just before the school year and expect us to know what their bratty kid's summer reading list was.

"What do you mean you're sold out? That's okay, I'll just go to Barnes & Noble!" Snap!

See my Blog at

4:46 PM  
Blogger ereshkigal said...

No, thank you for writing the letter and saying what needed to be said. Tonight, as we were closing at 11 p.m., a man came running into the store looking for his son. He had been at the restaurant next door having coffee and had left the kid (who was maybe 8? 9?) to wander around Big Bookstore. He had lost track of the time and forgot we were getting ready to close. Nice dad.

4:13 AM  

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