Greeter at Walmart Calls 911 on Dad She Thought was a Kidnapper

Readers — Here’s a long blog kzenzrndkr
by a mom whose husband left Walmart with their daughter while she finished checking out. The greeter assumed the father was an abductor even after she — the greeter — followed the duo out to the car and asked the girl, “Who is this man  with you, sweetie?” and the girl replied, “He’s my dad!”

That wasn’t enough for Sherlock, who took down the car’s license plate and called it in to the cops. The cops later arrived at the family’s home.

We pick up at the point where the writer/wife, author Jen Mann, has just found out about the incident when she gets to the car a few minutes after her husband and kid:

“Did she apologize or say why she stopped you?” I asked.

“No. Not at all. She was like staring me down. I could tell she still didn’t believe Adolpha even though she told her I was her dad. The lady was basically accusing me of kidnapping Adolpha, which I wasn’t. So I laughed at her.”

“Hmm. It’s a strange story, that’s for sure,” I said. “But you know what? I appreciate her vigilance. I want to go in and thank her. I want to tell her she’s wrong, but I want to thank her, because if Adolpha was being stolen, I’d be happy that she tried to intervene.”

“I don’t think that’s right,” the Hubs said. “There was nothing good about what she was doing. She came after me because she saw a person of color leaving the store with a child that looks like she could be white. I was racially profiled. Have you ever been stopped with our bi-racial kids? Has anyone ever accused you of stealing them? This woman came after me because I’m Asian.”

After some back and forth I decided not to go in the store and talk to the woman. The Hubs was pretty upset and I knew it would bother him more if I went in to talk to her. It wasn’t worth the fight. I figured that was the end of that. –

Read the rest here! And while we’re at it, here’s a link to Jen’s book, “People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Zealots and Other Suburban Scourges.” She’s a feisty one! – L. 

Thank you for shopping at Walmart, you disgusting pervert.

“Thank you for shopping at Walmart, you disgusting pervert.”

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69 Responses to Greeter at Walmart Calls 911 on Dad She Thought was a Kidnapper

  1. Mary August 6, 2014 at 7:13 pm #

    Someone called the cops on my husband when he tried to carry our kicking and screaming 2 year old out of Walmart. The fact there wasn’t a frantic mother searching for her baby made no difference. Clearly he was a snatcher because a two year old would NEVER throw a tantrum in a store. The *only* reason security let him go was because he had 500 photos of her on his phone.

    FWIW they are both white.

  2. octavio August 6, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

    I hate how thankful the comments are over on the original post. Here’s a clue for times when you see a man and a child together in public: If the child is screaming something to the effect of “Help! This man is taking me! This man is not my father! Help me!” then chances are it might be worth intervening. Though again, assume this child is throwing what is a perfectly normal temper tantrum.

    Every other time? Leave them alone.

    Personally I find I receive the opposite attention. Someone will comment to me, “your children look so much like you!” Seriously, this is what you chose to comment to me? I don’t need anyone to point this out to me and this totally means they were staring at me and my children trying to figure out if I was allowed to be with them.

  3. octavio August 6, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    I forgot to add — sometimes when I get the “your kids look like you” comment I’ll sometimes say “Thanks, they’re adopted!” or “Don’t tell my neighbour, their his kids!”

    My wife is obviously never around when this happens.

  4. heather August 6, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

    I got the “Your daughter looks so much like you” comment once from a stranger in a restaurant. It wasn’t my daughter. It was my 4 year old step-daughter-to-be who was at an uncomfortable time in her relationship with me. She completely melted down and ended up being carried out of the restaurant over her father’s shoulder while she was kicking and screaming.

  5. pentamom August 6, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

    An incident like this happened several years ago at our local (small) airport when the cops were called on a (white) guy who was carrying his tantruming, evidently ethnically Asian kid. Well, OBVIOUSLY it wasn’t his kid if they weren’t the same race, and CLEARLY the only reason a toddler would be screaming in the arms of a man is if she were being abducted, because kids never scream for their own parents.

    Because nobody around here has ever heard of transracial adoption or interracial marriage? I assure you, we have. Even though race was involved here I don’t really call this “racism” because it wasn’t about wanting to deprive people of rights or respect because of their race; it was just ignorant stupidity.

  6. Kimberly Herbert August 6, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

    The cops had to follow up once the report was made. The greeter should be fired and the cops should have serious talk about false reports, wasting police time, and violating civil rights.

  7. Jen August 6, 2014 at 10:18 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this, Lenore!

  8. Warren August 6, 2014 at 10:25 pm #

    I would not stop until the greeter was fired. That simple.

  9. Coasterfreak August 6, 2014 at 10:55 pm #

    I am so thankful that I never got questioned while out with my two step children, who are both now adults. Aside from all of us being white, they look nothing like me. One looks just like their father and the other looks just like their mother. There were many times over the years where I had to drag a kicking, screaming child out of a store and never once was a questioned. Considering the ferocity of some of the tantrums, everybody was probably just glad I was getting them out of the store!

    I did, however, get the “they look just like you” thing a LOT. I never understood it, because like I said, they looked nothing like me. The third child, who IS mine, looked just like me until he reached about age 9, and yet rarely did anyone outside the family ever comment about that.

  10. Havva August 6, 2014 at 11:31 pm #

    As a kid, I attracted more than my fair share of ‘concerned’ adults. I am really short and was good at following rules and figuring out the right thing to do, so my parents afforded me freedom normally reserved for older kids.

    Long way of saying I know concerned adults. I also know self-righteous fools.

    I’ve had happy associations with the concerned adults of the world.

    But the self-righteous ones, wear their biases loud and proud, don’t care about the evidence in front of them, and try to recruit others to interfere with a child on the basis of their bigotry. Thankfully back then the adults being recruited to interfere just sat back and smirked while I informed the busy body of their bias. I think no one then felt obligated to take deranged accusations seriously.

    So while I always give most people the benefit of the doubt as concerned people are nice. I would have told the cops, and wall-mart that the woman in question was harassing my family. I would mentioning the rude/threatening/ frighting behavior and I would insist that the cops tell her to leave my family alone. Because those people were irritation enough when they were just harping at a smirking librarian. I don’t want my daughter to feel helpless just because today they get to force the cops to check into their niggle bigoted feelings.

  11. J.T. Wenting August 7, 2014 at 12:21 am #

    No racism here, but the usual sexism involved in all such cases.
    Man+child == pedophile abducting a victim
    Woman+child == mother with her child having a good time together

    That’s the picture we’re being told is the universal truth, and that’s what the greeter instinctively reacted to.
    Fact that the man was a different skin colour from the child might have pushed her over the edge, but was probably irrelevant to the eventual outcome.

  12. marie August 7, 2014 at 1:45 am #

    In her blog post, Jenn said, Think how many times we hear about missing children whose trails have gone cold because tips were not reported or given credence.

    How many times HAVE we heard that? Not many. Few enough to warrant a headline.

  13. no rest for the weary August 7, 2014 at 2:14 am #

    My ex and I carry notarized letters with us signed by the other parent to present to “officials” when we travel with our kids.

    Number of times mom has been asked to present this notarized permission letter in the past 8 years: Twice? Three times? Maybe?

    Number of times dad has been asked to present this notarized permission letter in the past 8 years: Every. Time. He. Travels. With. The. Kids.

  14. BL August 7, 2014 at 5:18 am #

    “I would have told the cops, and wall-mart that the woman in question was harassing my family.”

    This may be the only way to put a cap on these people. Start charging them with harassment and stalking (if they follow you).

  15. hineata August 7, 2014 at 5:59 am #

    @Pentamom – so right, it’s about ignorance rather than actual racism. Still ridiculous.

    I didn’t get to read the whole blog, but I was a bit perturbed in the section here to see she ‘appreciated the greeter’s vigilance’. What was there to appreciate? Some woman stalks your husband and child, even after the child has told stalker who the ‘male abductor’ was, and you want to thank stalker for her vigilance? I find that the strangest part of what’s written here.

  16. emw1 August 7, 2014 at 5:59 am #

    and just another reason NOT to shop at Walmart.

  17. pentamom August 7, 2014 at 8:09 am #

    hineata, she goes on to say that after discussing it with her husband and thinking more about it, she decided she didn’t appreciate the greeter’s vigilance after all. I guess the idea of “I’m just so glad someone is watching out for the children” is so ingrained in some people that it takes a while to shake that off after some not appreciation-worthy instance of hyper-vigilance occurs.

  18. pentamom August 7, 2014 at 8:12 am #

    “and just another reason NOT to shop at Walmart.”

    Why? Because a Target or Whole Foods employee couldn’t possibly have done the same thing? Or do you think it’s Walmart store policy to harass multi-racial families?

    There’s no reason to think this is anything beyond a stupid individual actor, and nothing to do with where she worked.

  19. Thea August 7, 2014 at 8:52 am #

    After reading the full blog post it still doesn’t seem like the mom truly gets how wrong this situation is. Gut reaction was thankfulness in the “what if” scenario and then finally “maybe it’s not so great”.

    No. This is just wrong. Wrong from a racism perspective. Wrong from a sexist perspective. Wrong.

    I’d like to think that I’m lucky that my son is the spitting image of my husband. To the point that people who’ve never met my husband but see my son comment on how much he looks like…someone they’ve never met. But I know that at some point, when he’s older, someone will probably ask him if it’s his dad walking with him. Hubby won’t react well to that. I can tell you that now.

  20. Emily Guy Birken August 7, 2014 at 9:03 am #

    I remember when I was a child that my parents taught me to scream “This is not my Mommy/Daddy!” if I was ever abducted because no one would think twice about a screaming child being escorted out of a public place.

    I have since wondered two things about this:

    1. Why on EARTH did my parents believe that it was necessary to teach me this?


    2. How did they know for sure that I would never use this knowledge against them? (I never did. But it occurred to me once or twice when I was about six or seven. I was just canny enough to realize the trouble I would get into if I tried it.)

  21. Michelle August 7, 2014 at 9:14 am #

    All the thankful comments get on my nerves. The greeter wasn’t reacting to anything that actually COULD point to a child in danger. Perhaps it’s more likely that two people of different races are unrelated, but that doesn’t mean danger. I’m white, but my son’s black best friend is often hanging around with us. One of my best friends is Hispanic, and one of our old babysitters is Asian. And there’s no reason that a kidnapper needs to be a different race from the kidnapped child. This wasn’t “looking out” for each other, since there was no more reason to suspect danger than any other man walking out of the store with any other kid.

    This was making assumptions based on nothing but looks, and I sincerely wish more people would realize how terrible they are at such things. Growing up, my grandmother’s friends were constantly telling me how much I look like her. I wish I did, but I don’t, and my dad’s adopted. Same goes for my oldest two kids and me, and my brother-in-law and his oldest girl. Oh, but I look nothing like my mother’s father’s side of the family, even though we are related, because they look more Italian and I look more like the Irish side.

    My kids and are all constantly getting comments on how young we look. I’m in my 30s, and I’m routinely mistaken for a teenager. I’ve even been asked if I was babysitting my own kids, and mistaken for my own teenaged daughter. Speaking of whom, she’s had kids her own age mistakenly think she was 3 years younger, and in the very same night been mistaken for her 6 year old brother’s mother!

    My oldest two kids are 10 months apart, so part of the year they are the same age. I had a woman come up and ask me, “Are they twins?” Of course I thought she meant the oldest two, but she actually meant my 2 year old and 4 year old, despite the older being twice the size of the younger.

    Basically, people suck at guessing who is related, how old people are, and anything based on looks, so maybe they should just stop.

  22. Michelle August 7, 2014 at 9:21 am #

    Oh, I forgot. A few days ago I had a gas station attendant scrutinizing my license because she was sure I wasn’t old enough to buy cigarettes. But a couple months ago, my oldest daughter (16) was holding my youngest (3 or 4 months), and a woman in the grocery store assumed she was the mom and I was the GRANDMA! I’m 33!

  23. lollipoplover August 7, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    Sounds more like a Walmart bouncer than greeter.

    Last time I went to Wally World (years ago) the greeter said good morning and told me I had nice teeth.

  24. Michelle August 7, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    Oh, here’s another one. When my step-daughter was 14, a woman in a store thought she was the mother of her 4 year old half-sister. Not only are they only 10 years apart, they are different races!

    It also reminds me of a friend of mine from high school. When she was a baby, in the 80s, she was at the mall with her teenaged sister. They were stopped by an older woman, and treated to a lecture on the evils of teenaged motherhood.

    I think I have a million stories like this, but I’ll stop. 😛

  25. BL August 7, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    “They were stopped by an older woman, and treated to a lecture on the evils of teenaged motherhood”

    She should have said “this is my granddaughter.”


  26. Buffy August 7, 2014 at 10:13 am #

    The comment on the original post that amazed me the most was from the woman whose 4-year-old son was not released to her at dismissal time by an aide at the school, because she and her son didn’t look alike.

    This commenter thought that was perfectly wonderful, and that overzealousness is better than “having my baby taken from me”. Hmmm. Isn’t the school refusing to release your child pretty much having your baby (I WON’T start in on calling 4-year-olds babies, I won’t….) taken from you? Who else on earth would think this is a) appropriate and b) wonderful?

  27. marie August 7, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    Michelle’s comments made me chuckle. She’s right, though. Physical resemblances are a terrible way for someone to decide if an abduction is in progress. I like her other point, that often people are in the company of children not related to them at all…and that doesn’t indicate an abduction, either.

  28. hancock August 7, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    I would have been on the phone with Walmart management to demand a formal apology for their busybody greeter harassing my husband and falsely calling the police on us. This kind of behavior has to stop.

  29. nina August 7, 2014 at 11:33 am #

    I love your stories and have a few of my own to share. When I was a few weeks pregnant with my first child and didn’t know about it yet I went with a couple of girlfriends to an ice skating rink. I had a young teenager skating rings about me but I didn’t pay much attention to him. When we were about to leave, he finally worked up a nerve to come up to me and ask me about my plans afterword. When I told him I was going to meet up with my husband he didn’t believe me. Even when I took off my gloves and showed him my wedding band he thought I was playing tricks. When I told him he was too young for me, he couldn’t understand why. After all he was turning 15 next week. A few years later (when I was in my early 30s) my husband and our 2 sons took a cruise vacation. We were having breakfast and minding our own business when a middle aged? Woman came up to our table and began talking to my husband about what a good job he’s doing taking his 3 children out for breakfast. He couldn’t at first understand what she was going on about, but then I said that I wasn’t his child, I was his wife. My husband is only 2 years older than me and doesn’t look a day over his biological age. Go figure. The woman got really embarrassed and said that I must’ve had my children when I was 10. Neither one of us liked the implications.

  30. Mike August 7, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

    If I was “the Hubs,” this Walmart vigilante would be facing a defamation lawsuit right now, with the Walmart chain named as a “deep pockets” accessory. Any money received would probably be donated to charity. That would not be my point. It would be all about teaching an obnoxious busybody to mind her own business. Particularly, if there was any alleged store, or chain policy involved.

  31. Jen (P.) August 7, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    I wish the blogger would go to the store and educate the greeter and store manager about how to distinguish between a child calmly leaving the store with her dad and one who is being kidnapped.

  32. EricS August 7, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

    I don’t think this was a racial thing. But it is a form of a discrimination. To me this was more of the “strange man = predator” mentality. Him being Asian, and the child being bi-racial, but looks more white, the ignorant will automatically assume the child is not his. This is the ignorance and incompetence that media and society is breeding more and more. And it will only get worse if people don’t start smartening up.

    People use the internet to gather information, but they actually don’t have a clue about HOW to gather information. They read the first thing they see, and people’s opinions, and then take it as face value. This mentality does more harm than good. If these people were a smart as they should be, they would know how to deal with these situations. Not quick to jump the fence. There’s enough stories where family’s lives are upturned because of some busy body, nosey, sanctimonious, ignorant person reporting them without any concrete evidence. They may be using the child as a reason, but in reality, it’s their own selfish need to be praised for “doing a good job”.

    I think the author is wrong about the way she thinks about this greeter. I personally would not thank her. Is someone doing something completely unthought of, worth the potential of wrecking your family? I think not. I would have contacted the Walmart and explained to them what had happened. And made sure they train their employees in the proper way of dealing with these situations. Including training them, in how to THINK, what to LOOK out for, and remove all discriminatory views from their minds, and approach the situation with common sense, logic, and tactfulness.

    I still think busy bodies should face some sort of consequence for wasting people’s time, and potentially ruining the life of a child and her family. Not to mention valuable resources like the police, when they can actually be dealing with real crime, and real kidnappers. Not looking into some misguided, selfish, and ignorant person’s personal views.

  33. Paula August 7, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    My husband was frisked when he came into my gym to pick up the kids after work when I was working out. I had even told them that my husband would be coming!

  34. EricS August 7, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    @Thea: I agree. Most people’s “instincts/gut wrenching feeling” these days are based on fear, misinformation by media, and sanctimony. Completely unreliable. And more times than not, unwarranted. But it does leave some destruction in it’s path. Which they usually quietly sneak away from. No one EVER takes responsibility for the crap they cause because they don’t think before speaking or acting. But they will always take credit for “doing a good job”.

    I would have made a stink about it. I would have stuck around, told her to call the cops if she doesn’t believe me. In the meantime, I’ll go back in the store and demand to speak to management. And threaten Walmart with a lawsuit for discrimination, defamation of character, harassment, and causing mental and emotional anguish to my child and myself. Walmart only cares about bad press, and lawsuits. They would have reprimanded this woman. Good intentions or not, we still all have brains to use. She didn’t use it. She reacted purely on emotions. And emotions, as we all know, are very poor indicators of common sense and logic. Then perhaps, it will force people to stop and think first. Learn how to assess situations. Because 98% of the time, they will be wrong if they don’t think.

  35. Emily August 7, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    Emily Guy Berken,

    My nephew actually once did do that. He was out with his mom (my SIL) and didn’t want to leave. He started yelling she wasn’t his mom and they were stopped. SIL doesn’t just carry around adoption papers and my brother was called. He brought proof.

    The cops did turn in on nephew and told him how wrong he was and how we wasted police resources from someone how might have been hurt.

    My other brother is nothing short of a lunatic. He’s threatened to take my sons to PROVE that they can be taken any time because I let them play unattended. They know to not even approach his vehicle even if he’s only stopping to say hi. I’ve also informed my neighbors about this.

  36. EricS August 7, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    @Marie: Totally right, never use physical appearances to judge. What people need to learn to do, is learn body language. Basic skills for this isn’t that hard. Even seeing fear in a child when they are with someone is easy to spot. Because they are too scared to scream, run away, or ask for help, they will usually comply with their captor. But they will never be able to hide their fear. This one indicator that would raise flags for me. But if I see a black child, with a white adult, and the child is happy, or not distraught, and the adult doesn’t look like they are hiding something (yes body language works for adults as well), my instincts (based on experience and common sense) would not be kicking in.

    Most people don’t realize where instincts comes from. Other than the natural instincts we born with. All other instincts are taught and learned. And it’s only through years of experience that we hone them. Reacting to your own fears is NOT instinct. It’s paranoia. Nothing good comes from paranoia.

  37. Cynthia812 August 7, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    I think that deep down, many people have a desire to be a hero, and have heard too many stories about someone “feeling that something just wasn’t right” and saved the day. Most of those stories are fictional. I had the same reaction to Marie when the posted said “how many times have we heard about the trail going cold when the tips weren’t followed through”. Answer: not many. How many kidnappings are actually witnessed, anyway? I doubt most kidnappers are suave enough to pull that off.

  38. Papilio August 7, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    @Michelle: Hehhehheh 🙂 When I was 21, I went to the grocery store to buy my father some luxuary beer for his birthday. You guessed it, that 15yo pizza-face asked my ID. Mind you, at the time the legal age limit to buy and drink beer and wine was SIXTEEN! It had been legal for me to buy those 6 friggin’ beers for a whole FIVE years!
    On top of that, the policy was that people up to the age of *20* had to be able to show ID when buying alcohol, so I was even too old for that. Anyway, I then showed him my driver’s licence (for the car – proving I was 18+ – but it could just have been one for a moped: proof I was 16+), he looked closely, looked at me, looked again, and finally he let me buy the beer. It was embarrassing, but he did actually apologize.
    And I don’t even like beer.

    @Paula: “My husband was frisked” And then they found his penis in his pants and decided he was suspect?

  39. anonymous mom August 7, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    I’d say there’s a big problem with the idea that a child with a man who is not their father is somehow in danger. Why? It might be a neighbor, a family friend, a babysitter, a teacher. The vast majority of the time that children are with non-parental males, they are perfectly safe.

    My best friend in grad school used to take my first out all the time when I needed a break. People would tell her how much he looked like her, and she admitted that she’d normally just thank them and pretend he was her son. 😉 But, nobody would have thought that there was anything unusual about my friend being out with my baby. If she’d been a male, though, I suppose the first response of most people would have been that my child was in grave danger.

    It’s just sad. And it’s sad because it does lead to many men making the rational choice to just not take an active role in the lives of the kids around them. Personally, while my oldest, a boy, is awesome with kids and very nurturing and would love to babysit in a few years, I’d never let him. I’d never let him babysit anybody other than his siblings, I’d never let him take a job in day care, I’d never let him volunteer in the church nursery, I’d discourage his from planning for a career with children, if that was something he was interested in. It’s just too dangerous for men now.

  40. Sarah August 7, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

    I must find this book about Suburban Scourges. I think I might agree and have a few to add to the list. Can we add competitive, judgmental lawn-care freaks? The ones who give me the stink eye because I don’t have yard gnomes in cutesy formations around gorgeous flowers?

  41. Melissa August 7, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    I’ve worried about this happening to us – or to my husband, specifically. He’s Asian/Caucasian and dark hair, medium skin; I’m french and light skinned, dark hair. Our daughter is somehow a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Malibu girl.
    But the thing is: I could see someone thinking she might be adopted. Whatever. But to assume she’s being kidnapped?? That’s outrageous.
    And I’m also extremely over being asked where her blonde hair comes from. Who knows? Who cares! I’m sick to death of explaining that someone on his side is blonde or my brother was blond as a kid. What-the-****-ever. Mind your business. What if she was adopted? People have no sense.

  42. mystic_eye August 7, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    @Emily Guy Birken

    We never taught our kids that but my husband once carried my toddler to the bathroom while the toddler screamed “You’re not my daddy” and no one stopped them. Then again maybe I’m the only one who understood what he was screaming. And yes, sometimes bathroom trips are mandatory

  43. anonymous mom August 7, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

    My kids have pulled the “You are NOT my mother!” thing on me, but thankfully thus far only at home.

  44. Maggie August 7, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    “No. This is just wrong. Wrong from a racism perspective. Wrong from a sexist perspective. Wrong.”

    THIS, exactly.

  45. Dhewco August 7, 2014 at 3:09 pm #


    I only partially agree with you. Fear is not the end all and be all of indicators. Kids can look afraid for other reasons. Fear of being punished for misbehaving in a store, maybe your kid just told you about some wrong they did, or …well, you get the point.

  46. Becky August 7, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

    I worry about this happening to my husband as well. Particularly because as a lawyer, and an administrative law judge, and someone who is passionately invested in the protection of Constitutional freedoms, he would be encouraged to pick a (verbal) fight with any store employee that tried to detain him without cause. I am certain the cops would end up being called. It doesn’t matter if you’re morally and legally right when your daughter gets taken from you against your will and questioned by scary police-officer types for her own “safety”.

  47. Matthew August 7, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

    In my 20s I regularly borrowed an insanely cute 2-3 year old biracial girl to play with partly because it was unlikely people would think she was mine.

    She attracted many women to talk to me, while I also gave her parents a break. Win/Win!

    I’d like to think we’ve become less sensitive to race over time (or maybe people in the early 90s just wouldn’t care about a little black girl?), so I’m inclined to go with anti-male, with race as a signal as opposed to a problem.

    Interestingly, in SC when that woman in the 90s drowned her kids, people jumped on her quick because of racial profiling. A black guy taking kids? Statistically rare.

  48. Susan August 7, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    I have a biracial white/asian son. No one has ever commented to either my husband or I about his looks (or who he belongs to). My husband took my son to Home Depot & a bunch of other stores as a toddler. No one ever said of thing or cared that an asian man was walking around with a mixed race toddler. He’s now a teenager & half his friends are mixed race. We live in LA. Maybe it’s the norm here.

  49. Emily August 7, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    This is insane. The thing that stands out the most to me is, what kind of kidnapper thinks, “I’ve successfully abducted a child. Wait, I need to stop at Wal-Mart, where there are tons of witnesses, who’ll probably ask questions and blow my whole scheme?” That just doesn’t make sense. It’s equally illogical for someone to try to kidnap a child FROM a place like Wal-Mart, for the same reason–too many witnesses. So, if I ever saw a child at Wal-Mart or similar with a grown man, I’d assume that man to be the child’s father, stepfather, grandfather, uncle, much older brother, babysitter, family friend, or whatever. My point is, I’d assume that nothing untoward was happening, unless the child looked obviously distressed, and was screaming, “This is not my [whatever].” I mean, it could happen, and some kids might be shocked into silence, or threatened/bribed to act natural, so MAYBE the greeter at Wal-Mart thought she was doing the right thing. However, it should have ended after she followed the man and the little girl out to the car, and saw the telltale signs that they were father and daughter, i.e., the car seat and the stuffed animals.

  50. Emily August 7, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    P.S., I meant to say that kidnappings at places like Wal-Mart could happen, BUT it’s not something that’s in the news on a regular basis, and it doesn’t seem like a common occurrence, probably because it’d be so hard to pull off. I suppose big-box stores and malls could instate a hand-stamp system for adults and children entering together, like at Chuck E. Cheese, but that’d cause such a backlog at the doors going in and out, it’d be a massive P.I.T.A., and possibly also a fire hazard, so I hope it doesn’t happen.

  51. Havva August 7, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    Mixed race people were much more common in California than on the east coast. When I was a kid in CA in the 80’s/90’s there were loads of mixed race kids. It is getting more common in the east but they aren’t CA levels of mixed yet, and CA probably has gotten more mixed since the 90’s.

  52. Reziac August 7, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    You don’t accomplish anything by firing the greeter — she doesn’t learn a damn thing that way. But I do think management should sit her down with the affected family and in no uncertain terms inform her that unless she sees an actual crime in progress (not just something that looks like a crime if you automatically suspect everyone) then it’s NONE OF HER DAMN BUSINESS, because what she’s doing ruins lives. Pictures of miserable innocent kids in juvenile hall (where they may wind up if no foster home is instantly available) and such, rubbed in her face til she gets it.

    I’d say also make her pay for wasted police time, but chances are she barely makes enough to eat as it is.

  53. Warren August 7, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

    Yes she should be fired. She acted as a representative of WalMart when she did this, and as such will probably be fired.
    There was an incident like this with a WalMart employee and a dog in a vehicle. The company fired her for not following protocol, by getting a manager, and for acting on personal beliefs, while in uniform, therefore a representative of WalMart.
    All valid reasons to terminate.

  54. JJ August 7, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

    I read Jen’s blog often because she’s a good writer, very funny and often on the money. But it’s on pups from this post and others that she buys into the myth that children are at significant risk of being abducted by strangers. She seems to take that as a given.

    Yes I do think this particular case study involves racism, sexism, and most of all n individual greeter who had an over active imagination. The bigger issue it illustrates however is that society–the greeter, the blogger, some of her commenters–have been tricked into thinking there is a risk where there really isn’t one.

  55. JJ August 7, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

    And by “it’s on pups” I mean “it’s obvious”. 🙂

  56. Donna August 7, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

    How many inter-racial kidnappings have there been? Any? The only solved kidnappings that I can recall involve people of the same race not different races. It seems as though a man with a child of a different race should confirm that it is not a kidnapping based on statistics.

    The thing that got me about this situation (outside of that it happened at all) was all the commenters praising the greeter for acting on her gut. Why? Her gut was WRONG!! Why are we praising people for acting on a wrong gut instinct? A person who acts on a gut instinct and saves the life of a child should be praised. A person who acts on a gut instinct that causes the police to harass an innocent family is just wrong. Possibly not someone who should be condemned – everyone makes mistakes = but certainly not someone who deserves praise.

  57. CrazyCatLady August 7, 2014 at 9:45 pm #

    Wow, what an opposite of the experience I had at Walmart, in Gilroy, CA. My experience was that we paid for our stuff, then my friend and I and our 4 kids, went to the McDonalds right near the exit, and ate some food before our 45 minute drive back to the coast.

    We ate, and then wanted to leave. With two women and 4 kids. One who is a wanderer, who would gladly hold hands with anyone who wanted, to. So, the “greeter” asks for my receipt. Why? I thought only Sam’s Club did that. But I couldn’t find it because we had eaten and I put change in my purse and then the 3 year old wanderer was gone. My friend was with the other 3. The greeter would NOT let me leave to find him. My friend was trying to herd the other kids, but with a toddler and 2 6 year olds…I had to leave EVERYTHING (including my purse) to go outside and find my oblivious child who could have wandered into traffic to try to find our car, but fortunately was near by.

    I have only been that mad one other time, and that was when a teacher with my group that was camping took kids to the lake without me (the lifeguard) and a dad who couldn’t swim but was too cool to wear a life jacket almost drowned in front of his kids. That woman was fired. I doubt the Walmart employee was though I did complain about her after we got home.

    Overall, at the very least, gender profiling, at worst, racial for the original post. And now her kid is afraid that the cops will take daddy away because he doesn’t look like her. And my kid, who could have easily been kidnapped had anyone wanted to, wouldn’t even have looked sullen. He would have been thrilled to death that an adult wanted to pay attention to him and hold his hand. (Though he was MUCH more likely to get hit by a car backing up than to be kidnapped.)

  58. fjord August 8, 2014 at 7:28 am #

    Are you freaking kidding me?

    Not only do we have to worry about leaving our kids in the car for 12 seconds (even if they are old enough to regulate their body temperature, open the windows or remove themselves from the car) but we can’t walk in public with our own children or even neighbor’s children or friend’s children without being accosted by total strangers who can’t mind their own freaking business or have anything better to do than see abductions, sex and crime everywhere?


    The woman was “thankful” that someone cared enough and showed concern about the possible abduction of the child. OMG. A child that was acting totally calm and normal. (which happens so rarely). I don’t know what annoys me more… the woman who felt she had to stop the guy .. or the mother who thinks it’s hunky dory that we look at everyone with suspicion. HOly crap.

    I get bent out of shape when the pharmacist “must talk to me” about my prescription that I’ve taken for 15yrs, leaving me standing there for 5 minutes while he b.s.’s with his coworker, because I wouldn’t possibly think to speak up and ASK a question on my own unless I’m prodded to ask a “professional”. What is it with people and having to be power nazi’s and in everybody’s face about everything?

    part of FREEDOM is giving people the chance to make bad choices and do stupid crap and LIVE WITH THE CONSEQUENCES. But when it starts invading my personal space because 90% of the populace is too stupid to function without assistance, it’s probably time for me to remove myself from “society”.

    Oh. and this is how you close an open society. Everyone lives in fear. Fear of the government. Fear of your neighbor. Broken families and division of the populace.

  59. SteveS August 8, 2014 at 9:07 am #

    A Walmart in my state fired an employee that intervened to help a woman that was being assaulted in the parking lot. They said it was a violation of company policy.

  60. Thea August 8, 2014 at 9:13 am #


    Regarding the Susan Smith/SC drowning case, they didn’t jump on her quick because of racial profiling. They jumped on her because the man she described was working at the county fair that week. He ran the gravatron ride. They circulated the image in the schools. He alibied out very quickly. They also jumped on her because her story didn’t match up and she exhibited all the wrong signs. I would know. I was there and lived through that.

    Most people knew within a few days that something was up.

  61. BL August 8, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    “A Walmart in my state fired an employee that intervened to help a woman that was being assaulted in the parking lot. They said it was a violation of company policy.”

    This sort of nonsense is started in the schools. I guess unprovoked assault is now a human right, defense of the innocent is a criminal act:

  62. Tiny Tim August 8, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    While genuine, if completely misguided, fear motivates most of this paranoia about stranger danger, I do think some of it comes from a different place, the genuine belief that other people covet your precious children. Some parents have a weird sense that their children are so special that of course other people want them for their own. It’s a strange fantasy.

  63. Jen (P.) August 8, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    @fjord – re the pharmacy and our apparent collective determination to avoid the natural consequences of our actions – I’m with ya. This is technically off-topic, I suppose, but I really see these things as related to the motivation for over-protecting our kids – and it’s all to our detriment. I see a neurologist for migraines. This week I had a checkup with the nurse practitioner and she informed me the hospital that insisted on buying their practice a few years ago is dumping it and terminating everyone because they’re not profitable enough. Of course, they can’t really control their revenue – reimbursement rates are set by Medicare and insurance companies. And the poor nurse practitioner spent most of our visit scrolling through computer screens to make sure she checked off all the right boxes and reconfirmed things we’ve gone over a million times before. What a waste of time and, therefore, money. THE WORLD HAS GONE INSANE I TELL YOU!

  64. Shari August 8, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    At this point I am less concerned about the reporter’s thought process than the police’s reaction. In this case, they followed up the report, as they must, and quickly left the family alone.

    There is no way to stop busybodies without making a law that false accusations carry consequences.

    What is most important is that “guidelines” from State Child Welfare organizations are not treated as law, and well-meaning parenting decisions are not treated as criminal acts.

    Police must be trained how to do damage control for families that are plagued by supposed do-gooders and help prevent decent people from ending up in the hands of a court.


  65. Warren August 8, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

    We also need to put a great deal of the blame on cellular phones………..yes our cherished tech.

    In the past busybodies would have to find a phone. Which gave them a moment to think, or had to explain themselves to someone to use the phone, all while giving the family time to leave.
    Now, grab your cell and 911.

  66. SteveS August 8, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

    BL, the good news is that Walmart received a ton of negative press and offered the guy his job back. I don’t know if he took it.

    I agree that the proliferation of cell phones has made it easier for nosy do-gooders to butt in, but it has also made it easier for people to record the harassment by a do-gooder.

  67. Mandy August 8, 2014 at 10:39 pm #

    My black-haired mom often got funny looks and stupid comments when toting around my tow-headed brother, but nobody ever suggested she was stealing him.

    Though I don’t think she worried about it. She always told us that if someone stole us, they’d bring us back pretty quickly because we were such brats. I think she was kidding. Maybe.

  68. Emily August 10, 2014 at 8:43 am #

    >>We also need to put a great deal of the blame on cellular phones………..yes our cherished tech.

    In the past busybodies would have to find a phone. Which gave them a moment to think, or had to explain themselves to someone to use the phone, all while giving the family time to leave.
    Now, grab your cell and 911.<<

    @Warren–That's a really good point. I mean, a cell phone won't turn anyone into a busybody, but a cell phone in the hands of a busybody can do some serious damage. Kid left in a car? Call the police. School-aged kid playing unsupervised in a park, or even a backyard for that matter? Call the police. Mother smoking within view of her kids in a car? Police. And so on, and so forth. Maybe you're right; maybe the physical act of walking to a pay phone, or a phone inside a store, or waiting until you get home, or wherever the nearest land line is, provides an opportunity for reflection and perspective that doesn't happen when the phone's right there in your pocket. It'd be silly to say that cell phones caused all this paranoia, because they didn't–that's the 24-hour news cycle spouting horror stories about kids getting abducted in order to boost ratings–but it seems rather unfortunate that they appeared on the market for the general public right around the late 80's/early 90's, when the O.J. Simpson trial happened, and the bubble-wrap parenting started.

  69. Amanda Matthews August 14, 2014 at 11:51 pm #

    ALL the walmart greeters need to be fired – none of them are doing anything useful to society, and most of them are racist, ageist, sexist idiots on a power trip. They have no legal right to stop you from leaving, force you to show your receipt, question you, etc. They are not security guards, not police officers.

    If they ask me for my receipt, I smile, say no thanks, and keep going. If they are blocking the door, or if they are forcing a line to form by taking a long time checking someone’s receipt, I go around them, going out the entrance door if necessary.

    I have never been challenged (aside from a few greeters being surprised/confused by my “no thanks”, stunned silent for a moment, and saying “what??” Or “Hey!” When I’m already out the door. But if any of them do try to detain or follow me I plan on starting to yell “I need an adult!!”