Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Stroller Karma

People with enormous strollers have annoyed the rest of us for ages.   Well, the chickens have come home to roost!

The carnage was awful.  Adjectives were torn and abused.  Adverbs were bruised.  Metaphors were tortured.   Could something be done about it?   Not until Jeff Bezos sells the Washington Post!   In today's paper, this article about the "carnage" resulting from a wheel falling off a stroller:
The crashes were brutal. With no warning, the front wheel on the three-wheeled BOB jogging strollers fell off, causing the carriages to careen and even flip over. Adults shattered bones. They tore ligaments. Children smashed their teeth. They gashed their faces. One child bled from his ear canal.
In other words, people fell down, which happens all the time to people, even kids.  Nice article - not trying to influence our opinion in the first paragraph, or anything, right?  Even better, the photo accompanying the article showed the wrong stroller.   Journalistic integrity dies in the darkness, it is said.

The point of the article was another opportunity to bash Trump for gutting the Consumer Product Safety Commission.   This comes as a big surprise to most people, as we know that Republicans are all in favor of more regulations and consumer product safety.   Oh, wait.  They aren't.   So this is another one of those "Sun rises in the East" stories that the news likes to publish, with an ain't-it-awful spin, because someone's kid fell out of a stroller and they hired a personal injury attorney.

The reality is, of course - and not mentioned by the Post in the article - that the consumers were not attaching the wheels properly to these things, which you have to do, if you don't want the wheel to fall off.   Of course, the types of users of these things - brain-dead yuppie Moms - aren't the type to understand this, or much of anything else (for example, how to drive a car) so I guess the manufacturer should have anticipated that the wheels would not be attached properly.

This is not rocket science - it is how you put a wheel on a bicycle.  But then again, people are apparently fucking this up as well, which is why most consumer-grade bicycles these days don't have quick releases anymore.

You've seen the "Moms" who own these monster strollers.   They ram them into your ankles and then act like you're the problem for getting in their way.   "Mom coming through!  Make way!  Precious cargo!"   The problem is, they also use them as human shields - pushing the stroller out into traffic, daring you to run over their kid - or trying to shame you for taking the right-of-way when they are crossing against the light.

These new strollers are enormous, too - taking up all the space in the lobby of a restaurant, clogging hallways and elevators, and all for no reason.  It has gotten so bad that Disney now has size restrictions on strollers - you can no longer push your car through Disney world, loaded up with kids and supplies.

Many of these strollers are sold as "sport" models, so Mommy can go jogging with the kids.   The reality is, of course, no one is jogging with these - at least not very often.  The reality is, people want them as status symbols, as they cost a lot of money.   They are also a way of passive-aggressively asserting space in public places, again using the "Mommy" gambit to assert superiority over us mere mortals.  I have a right to park this small vehicle in any inconvenient place I want to, as I have given birth to a miracle!  Blocking fire exits - nice.

The problem is, of course, that even if Mommy is getting in shape jogging behind one of these things, her kids are not.   People routinely put children into strollers long after they become ambulatory.  Until age 5 or 6, even.  As a result, our children are getting fatter and flabbier, and getting used to being carried around more and more.   Instead of a tricycle or even a big-wheel, kids get a little electric car as soon as they can walk.  The message is clear - walking is for chumps.

Back in the 1980s, they came out with these folding "cane" strollers that folded up into almost nothing, and everyone thought they were annoying as well.  Why?  Again, because people were infantilizing their children.   When I was a kid, you were put in a "perambulator" as a baby only because you could not walk.   And even then, Mom didn't drag us everywhere, all the time.   Maybe we spent a few months in a stroller before we hit the toddler stage.  But once we were up on two feet, the stroller and baby-buggy went back up in the attic.   Today, these are accessories used well into grade school, because "the kids get tired and fussy and don't like to walk" - which becomes a foregone conclusion.

So it is a lot easier just to strap these kids into a contraption and push them around like you are moving a small appliance on a dolly.  The children are objects, not actually people.

But the worst part about it is the status thing.  Not only must you have one of these strollers today, in order to be a parent, you have to have the right one.   A decade ago, it was this particular stroller, which rocketed into fame as it supposedly survived a building collapse (without the wheel falling off, I guess).  Back then, we all thought it was scandalous that someone would spend $600 on a baby stroller.  Today, that is pretty much entry-level pricing.

There are, of course, some folks fighting this trend.  Believe it or not, I've seen people actually carrying their babies, which isn't all that hard to do, as if you don't get them so obese, they aren't all that heavy.   They even make little papoose packs to put the kids in, so Dad can walk around with a second beer-belly.   And when they get older - believe it or not - they become autonomous, like these new cars.  Just set them down and watch 'em go!   Tires out the little buggers, too - so they'll sleep better at night.

But of course, how are you going to carry all your stuff?   This is the troubling part and for the life of me, I don't know how my parents coped with me as a child, without a "baby bag" with bottled water, snacks, extra clothes, sun screen, a floppy hat, and so forth.   Oh, wait, they simply did without.

And yet, we all managed to survive.