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The Hunger Games At Wegmans Food Markets

by Chris Chichester on 09/30/17

When did it become acceptable for a mother to bring her screaming infant into a supermarket?  When did it become normalized for a father to allow his children not old enough for first grade to rampage up-and-down an aisle?   When did a place to buy everything for your household suddenly devolve into a cacophonous nursery? Why is a major place of commerce the destination for ignorant mothers and fathers dedicated to incivility?

I buy groceries at Wegmans Food Markets in Penfield. I've shopped at this store for five years.  In this dystopia at any time between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. there is the hysterical presence of infants and children.  It is a disgraceful ear-drum splitting new reality.

Yesterday as I stood in front of the ATM machine a baby approximately ten feet away unleashed a scream.  This particular scream was unusually ferocious.  I am relieved the ATM didn't have a pane of glass affixed to it as it could have shattered in my face much to the delight of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association.

I was prepared.  As in my ears are Mack's industrial-strength ear plugs designed for a jack-hammer operator.  If these ear plugs are not in my ears I would have been forced to walk across the street to University of Rochester Urgent Care for treatment.  I can still hear the intensity of the scream, however, in this unavoidable inferno.

I was disgusted at the fact that it took thirty seconds for a newborn to scream in my ear like I am Dr. Chris Chichester, Pediatrician.  These new mothers and fathers are a generation of simpletons placed in a time-out every day at elementary school for a lack of self-control.   Isn't that right William Strannix?

No, no, Francois, not you, not you. Now listen, I'm gonna put my accountant on the line, you understand, I'm gonna give you the account numbers. Okay? Here, talk to that frog.

Thank you, William Strannix.  You can return to hijacking an aircraft carrier now with Commander Krill.

I am Under Siege in Wegmans Food Markets.  When I turned around from the ATM and looked at Nurse Mildred Ratched with her screaming baby I exercised self-control. It is a posture I always adopt as I believe in civility.  I don't know how long it can last. Because if you allow your baby to assault me with such screaming than I reserve the right to retaliate with an equal measure of violence.

When I walked away from the ATM/Maternity Ward I decided to count the number of babies in the store.  This is approximately 2:00 p.m.  I walked to the first aisle.  When I completed walking only eight aisles I counted fourteen babies. I define a baby as a child incapable of walking on his own.

I called customer service at 1-800-OREGON-STATE-HOSPITAL — Excuse Me! — 1-800-WEGMANS. The conversation:  

Chris Chichester:  Hello, my name is Chris Chichester. I am a Wegmans customer for five years.  Every time I shop in your store on Penfield Road there are multiple screaming infants and children.   In fact, it is impossible to stand in any part of Wegmans and avoid these screaming infants and children.  Today I counted fourteen babies in your store.  This is a deafening actuality.  I can no longer shop in the Wegmans between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.  Wegmans must act to ban these screaming infants and children from its stores to protect the health of its customers.  A major shopping center is for adults to buy the products that sustain life.  It is not a daycare service.  

Wegmans Customer Service Employee:  Are there additional complaints about Wegmans, sir?

Chris Chichester: Do you comprehend what I am explaining as the reality in your store?

Wegmans Customer Service Employee:  Are there additional complaints about Wegmans, sir?

Chris Chichester:  Why do you provide me the standard talking point and refuse to respond to the specifics of my complaint?

Wegmans Customer Service Employee: Are there additional . . .

Wegmans has Lily Tomlin from Saturday Night Live answering its 1-800 number: We don't care. We don't have to.  We're the phone company. I hung up. I was disgusted by this employee's insulting determination to deliver the manufactured language.

President and Chief Executive Officer Colleen Wegman encourages Aileen Wuornos to bring a screaming infant into her stores.  At the front of my Wegmans is a day care center.  A mother — and it's always a mother — can deposit her Poltergeist in this center and proceed to shop. 

From the official Wegmans site:

"Because our stores are private property, we reserve the right to limit photography/videography.  However, if you're an out-of-town visitor, or your child is doing something amazingly cute, . . . "

If your child is doing something amazingly cute in front of the Planters Peanuts such as a scene from Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? than we encourage such displays and want you to record it for posterity.  I inform you, Colleen, that not every child is amazingly cute. Just ask Jerry Seinfeld.

Ms. Wegman supplies her customers with the conventional shopping cart.  She also presents a large black cart specially designed to look like a race car with flames painted on the side.  This cart is for your child to ride in.  It encourages the discovery of his inner-Jimmie Johnson.  And to go berserk in pretending it's the Daytona 500 at 2157 Penfield Road.

Last week as I walked through the parking lot I am behind a mother carrying her infant over her shoulder.  I could see this child's face. I thought: Did you give birth earlier today at Strong Memorial Hospital and decide to stop at the Wegmans for his first Gerber Baby Food?  What a joke.

I am not Warren in There's Something About Mary wherein if you touch my ears I'm going to pick you up, spin you around and throw you across the room.  I have normal ears and normal hearing.  I am a normal human being with the predictable reaction to incandescent screaming.

When I was one year old in 1966 in Queens and my mother decided to go to the A & P SHE LEFT ME AT HOME WITH MY FATHER. My mother understood the supermarket is inappropriate and unsuitable for a baby. Because the supermarket offers nothing to a human being incapable of speech, thought and control of bodily functions.  The supermarket is for those human beings with a nightstand that does not feature Huggies Little Snugglers, WubbaNub Elephant Pacifier, Boppy Bare Naked Pillow, Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F. Convertible Diaper Bag, Halo SleepSack Swaddle, 4moms mamaRoo, Snuza Go! and Johnson's Baby Oil.

You, Colleen Wegman, must confront this crisis. You can't sustain and augment a business when its foundation is assaulted from within.  There exists a fate for such businesses.  It's called Chapter 11.

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Freedom Lies In Being Bold — Robert Frost
www.eff.org