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As a child, there were few things that were guaranteed to be quite as boredom filled as a trip to the grocery store.  From my low altitude viewpoint the store seemed massive, with a seemingly endless number of aisles.  And I knew in my heart of hearts that I was destined to go up and down every single one of them.  The endless parade of cans, bags, and bottles did very little to amuse.

It was bad enough when I was young and was forced to ride in the cart’s child seat.  This was a ride that lost its novelty approximately ten seconds after it began.  But, being the oldest of three siblings, I was soon banished from the cart.  Of course, once this happened I wanted to be in the cart, riding in the basket or hanging onto the back, but my mother refused under most circumstances citing draconian safety rules and the like.

No, rather than this I was forced to make the childhood equivalent of the Bataan Death March through row after row.  Wander too far and a quick reprimand pulled you back.  In fact, any fun at all was frowned upon.  Such frivolity was “embarrassing.”  I wasn’t sure who exactly was embarrassed.  It certainly wasn’t me, I was having fun.

I was often bribed on the way into the store by being told that “if I behave” then I could partake of one of the most magical devices in the world for a kid.  Forget the novelty vending machines of today, I haven’t seen the like of these in years.  A glass enclosure held the figure of a chicken below which wa sa veritable sea of plastic eggs.  Every egg held a magical promise.  We, as kids, coveted those eggs.  They were better than the lost city of El Dorado, the Holy Grail, and the Fountain of Youth combined.

And I had to “behave” to earn one.

Needless to say, I rarely held one of these treasures.  My mother was a supremely patient woman, I know this now.  I just was not cut out to be a kid in a grocery store.  It’s not that I didn’t want to behave.  There was, after all, a plastic novelty egg on the line.  I just didn’t have the endurance for an entire Kroger or Dominick’s.

I did revolt against the system once, and only once.  In a fit of rage that my access to the clucking dispenser of treasure laden eggs was tied to something as subjective as good behavior I snapped.  It isn’t one of my brighter moments.  It’s not something that, in retrospect, I am proud of.  But, in a child’s mind a temper tantrum is a weapon.  A tantrum in the doorway leading out of the grocery store doubly so.

At the time I didn’t realize my mother had the Herculean strength and agility to carry me by one arm (feet off the pavement mind you) with one hand while steering a shopping cart full of groceries with the other.  I wasn’t cognizant of the fact that there was a fate worse than a failure to receive an egg.  I was a child, naive. 

Children, heed my wisdom, NEVER do this.  The results are not worth it.  And you may never see another treasure in your youth.



  1. ahhhh…this story. Every time it was told by our loving mother the child changed. Now either we all laid down between the automatic doors at one time or another. Or the truth has just not been uncovered. So are you the one who did it?

    • Oh, I’m relatively sure it was me. I have vivid memories of the aftermath.

        • runswithcarrots
        • Posted May 26, 2010 at 10:03 pm
        • Permalink

        Ack! I always thought it was ME! Perhaps we are all guilty. (Those chicken eggs were, after all, tantrum-worthy.) Or perhaps I just saw Matt do it and later remembered it was me.

        In any case, we should bring back those machines. We could, perhaps, make a fortune.

  2. I heard this story many times from a wondeful woman. In telling one thing stayed the same. One of her “daring” child threw a full all out tantram for what . . a plastic chicken egg! A tantram the required the said child to lay on a grorcery store floor while automatic door open and shut. ( I would have been laughing my *$$ off!) Yet she stayed clam and didn’t kill (which ever child) right there!
    so, in the the words of Susan . . really all of that for a STUPID CHICKEN EGG!

    • Don’t underestimate the power of the plastic chicken egg distibuted by a clucking chicken figure on the mind of a child of single digit age. Whichever one of us actually threw the fit was not in full control of their actions, they were under the powerful influence of The Chicken Machine.

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