Before this blog ever began I had another blog. I had been thinking about blogging for a couple years and finally had a story to share that was worth sharing. This is not the exact post, this is what I remember from the story which makes me madder today than it did then for two reasons. . . 1) I have a kid now and 2) a year or so after this happened Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby were found 3 blocks from where this happened. . .
My wife and I were shopping for parts of a Halloween costume at a local consignment shop. We were going as parts of the Scooby-Doo gang with some friends of ours. We were looking for a purple skirt so my wife could be Daphne. And so far we were having no luck.
We left the shop at the same time as a group of people and made our way to our car. The other people went to their cars as well, but in the group was a toddler. My wife pointed to him as we were about to pull away and asked "who does that baby belong to?" The toddler was, at this point, walking alone in the parking lot right in front of the store.
I pulled up to where he was standing in the parking lot roadway. I stopped the car and got out. I said "hey buddy." He smiled. I looked around. Not only did I not see someone looking for their kid I didn't see anyone, not a single face in a car or a building, no one was around.
I offered the little guy my hand. He wouldn't take it. I thought for a moment about picking him up but quickly realized that could look really bad. So I tried to heard him back up onto the sidewalk so I could figure out what to do next. He was mostly easily herded until he got to the step on the sidewalk and then he fell on his hands and began to cry. I didn't know what to do. I'm now suddenly standing in front of a store with a crying baby that I don't know, and still (now almost 5 minutes later) there is no sign of any parent.
I opened the door to the consignment shop and yelled, "is anyone missing a kid?" Only the 16-year-old girl working behind the counter heard me. "What?" she asked. "This kid was walking around the parking lot alone, and now he fell and is crying." She followed me outside to the kid. As soon as she approached he reached up to her (I supposed a 16-year-old girl in a school uniform would be more inviting to me than a 30ish year old man with a week old beard too). She picked him up.
Now I should point out that next door to the adult consignment shop is a kids consignment shop.
"You take him inside and ask around about his mom, I'll go next door and see if he wandered off from there." I walk next door and again yell, "is anyone missing a kid?" This time it got a reaction. Paniced faces quickly did a head count and people said no. I quickly explained to the girl working there "I found a toddler wandering alone in the parking lot, he's next door if anyone is missing a kid."
I stared to go back to the first shop and as I looked in the window I saw the little guy holding an adult woman's hand walking towards the back of the store. My wife tells me she's pretty sure that was mom and we drive off.
Afterwards a couple things went through my mind. . .
First and foremost I should have called the police. That woman might not have been mom and even if she was mom needed a wake-up call. Mom didn't notice the kid was missing for almost 10 minutes and then she only noticed because someone in the store asked her if her kid was missing. If something like this happens again I will call the police.
Second, 10 minutes. Again, 10 minutes because someone told mom the kid was missing. If I had picked the kid up, put him in my car, and got on the highway that was less than a minutes drive we could have been another state before the police had even arrived at the store. The state line was 15-20 minutes away. That's also the same distance to our house. We could have had him home by the time he was noticed missing.
There are a lot of morals to this story. Watch your kid, watch for other people's kids, always call the police in a situation like this, and hope that people who are horrible enough to kidnap a random kid are also stupid enough to take that kid out in public.