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Sunday, December 12th, 2010

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You Might Not Know What Code Adam Means, But Don't Assume The Cashier Does, Either
We found Gareth just fine, eventually. He's at that age when he thinks it's hilarious to run away from us in crowded places, and Dan let his guard down in the kids' clothing section at TJ Maxx. (I was with the baby in another section entirely. I'd like to think I wouldn't have let down my guard, but three-year-olds make up for their total lack of judgment with a superabundance of wiliness.)

Dan didn't know what a Code Adam was, so he didn't know to ask the store employees to call one. Which turned out to be just as well, because TJ Maxx is not a participating establishment, so instead of locking down the store until the lost child was found, which should be standard practice everywhere, the cashier just stared at me blankly and said she didn't have the authority to close the doors. If I could just wait five more minutes, she said, the manager would wrap up what he was in the middle of and come to hear me out.

So it was my responsibility to stand at the front doors to make sure no one left with my kid, while I pleaded with the cashiers to at least send someone to watch the back doors, if she didn't have the authority to lock those down. Dan ran up and down the aisles, enlisting the aid of his fellow customers. Nobody on staff could be bothered to help us. It was the Christmas season, after all, and a big year for the discount chains, so they were busy with important economic activity.

To the manager's credit, he gave the cashiers what for, once Gareth was found, but it was clear that nobody there had been trained, drilled, or even advised about what to do in the event of a missing child.

Parents, you're on your own. You can hope to encounter good will and good intentions, but if you want any skills or knowledge brought to bear in case the worst happens, you'd better provide them yourself.

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