Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Breast-feeding, book-browsing, and nacho-scarfing

I'm sympathetic to the needs of mothers and infants, and I think that Americans are ridiculously prudish about these things, but one detail nagged me about this story by Jessica Van Sack in the Boston Herald:

A Hingham mom says the manager of a South Weymouth iParty store brought her to tears by scolding her for breast-feeding her infant in the shop where children might see. “He stood over me and said you can’t do that here,” Dr. Melissa Tracy recalled of the party-pooper manager. “I’ve never felt that badly before.” Tracy, 40, a cardiologist practicing in Brockton, was shopping on Friday for her daughter Isabella’s 4th birthday party when she said 2-month-old Tristan got hungry and began to cry. “Rather than let him become hysterical, I sat down on the floor and breast-fed him,” Tracy said.

The floor? Maybe there were no chairs or benches anywhere nearby, but I hope she looked for one. There are already far too many people claiming floor space in stores these days. Bookstores are the worst, and I'm losing any guilt I had about ordering from Amazon.com. (They don't need a hyperlink from me.) It used to be just college kids, but now I see people as old as me (!) sitting in the aisles -- usually reading but occasionally talking on the phone. They take great offense if your foot gets too close, or if you try to read the titles behind their heads. Pervert! Whatever happened to personal space? Once I was at the Harvard Bookstore (they do merit a link), and there was an unusually tall guy with a ridiculously wide coffee-table book sitting on the narrow steps to the basement. He didn't move an inch but just let out an exasperated sigh as I tried to get by him; the sigh was even louder when I didn't see anything I wanted and had the nerve to go back upstairs. Look, I know that there are books all over the place in a bookstore, but sometimes I want a particular one. I'm not the one who stocked it where you want to rest your backside. Why don't you go to the manager and complain that another customer is harrassing you? While you're gone, I'll just grab my book, thank you. In a related sitting-vs.-standing rant, last night on the Orange Line I was forced to stand next to a big guy who leaned against the doors and polished off a huge paper plate of nachos and melted cheese. I like comfort food as much as anyone, but isn't it best enjoyed when you're comfortable? I'll eat or drink just about anything if I'm relaxing with friends and they're jeopardizing their health as much as I am, but nothing tastes good on the T. Maybe he was part of a Clockwork Orange-type experiment, causing his brain to associate cheese with a hot, crowded train that keeps making sudden stops between stations.

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