I tramped around the downtown Ross after work, searching for new bedding ideas. I had not anticipated the outing, and was still wearing my office clothes and heels. My feet were starting to ache, and I decided to give up the quest for cotton linen and thread counts, and started to make the descent to the first floor and the exit. As I stepped down the cheap plastic staircase, a baby's cry ripped through the store. The crying got louder and louder as I neared the lower floor. At the bottom, the crying was loud, and it was relentless. It was obvious that the child, once started, would not be easily quieted.
I walked in the general direction of the exit, noting the position of the mother and wailing child (near the center of the store). The On Sale! blouses caught my eye. The baby screamed. I strode in the direction of the blouses, acting oblivious to the noise. I began to peruse, and the noise became blood-curdling. At this point, I could almost hear the thoughts of the other customers:
"Why won't the mother stop that kid from crying!" (A lady headed in the direction of the shoes, her head turned towards the noise, her mouth snarled in annoyance)
"If it won't stop crying, she should at least take him out of the store." (A middle-aged hispanic woman)
"For heavens sake, at least pick the child up." (An older woman)
I had reached the end of the blouses and was prepared to turn up the middle aisle, when the mother of the distressed baby spotted me. She was middle-eastern, wore a burka, and didn't speak very much English. Her eyes beseeched me, and she voiced one accented word, twice: "Help. Help." I was taken aback, but I didn't really think twice about it. I marched right over to where the crying baby was, and I squatted down next to his stroller. His big brown eyes engaged mine, and the crying was interrupted briefly with a curious hiccup. It began again as quickly as it had ceased. I murmured to him while my eyes searched for a possible problem, "Baby, baby, you're okay. You're fine." The mother was pointing to his stomach, and I located a buckle, too tight, just below his stomach. I clicked the buckle's plastic parts together, and the lock released. The mother gathered the baby in her arms, and the crying died down to a whimper. I stood, and we walked away in separate directions.