The Oblivious Factor

What is it these days with the Oblivious Factor? Whether we're driving, shopping or walking down the street, we are so wrapped up in something else other than looking to see if we're blocking someone's way or slowing down traffic, that we pretty much become a nuisance not only to others, but a hazard to ourselves.
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By Beth Feldman, Co-Founder, Role Mommy

What is it these days with the Oblivious Factor? Whether we're driving, shopping or walking down the street, we are so wrapped up in something else other than looking to see if we're blocking someone's way or slowing down traffic, that we pretty much become a nuisance not only to others, but a hazard to ourselves.

Just last week I was at our favorite supermarket - Stew Leonard's - for those of you on the east coast, you've probably been to Stew's - the Disneyworld of supermarkets - for others - you're missing a great shopping experience for yourself and the kids...but I digress. So there I was, maneuvering my cart through the circuitous fruit aisle when I wound up in gridlock - or cart-lock to be more precise. Some careless shopper - a man who had abandoned his cart to sample some muffin crumbs, had left me no room to get around him. And so, I had to wait while he savored a scone, until I could move to the next section.

On the deli line, the back-up got even worse because tons of people were lined up to place orders and carts were literally strewn willy nilly down the aisle. I narrowly avoided knocking over someone's toddler who had gone AWOL while her mom was ordering some boiled ham and thankfully, moved on without a scratch to meat and dairy.

Food, glorious food. Once again, people were off in different directions, sampling chicken apple sausages, Italian meatballs and bratwurst. And their carts? Well, there were two jacknifed by the potato chip rack, three camped out in front of of the dancing cows (my husband was one of those offenders) and four crowded around the dancing Chiquita Banana lady. Thoroughly frustrated, I slipped my hand into the fracas, wrenched out a few low-hanging bananas, called out to my husband to grab the kids - who had now joined a conga line near the Polly-o string cheese and wove my way to the register.

Luckily, there are about 40 cashiers at Stew's so checking out is never a problem - they have that part down to a science. But, we did have to make our way to the parking lot where there was a bottleneck by the propane tanks. End of season refills, I guess. Plus, some lady was standing smack in the middle of the lot yapping away on her cell phone, while another guy was typing some incredibly important message on his Treo that he had to send on a Saturday morning, just as we attempted to guide our overfilled cart to our car.

We finally crammed the groceries into the minivan, strapped the kids into their booster seats and were on our way - well not exactly. We had to contend with some woman fixing her lipstick in her rearview mirror, a teenager attempting to parallel park and that guy with the Treo who was still deep in the throws of some major emergency...or maybe he was just finalizing plans with his buddy to watch football.

And then there was me.

Yes, I admit it, I am oblivious too. While my husband was asking me a question about our next destination, I was busy scanning email messages on my BlackBerry, handing the kids two juice boxes, while reaching to make a call on my cell phone. He quickly gave me that, you better pay attention to me look or else, and I promptly placed all my technical gadgetry away in my purse and told him to head to the dry cleaners.

I've come to the conclusion that these days, for better or worse, we're all completely oblivious. But before you smack into the car in front of you, or hold up a line of shopping carts, or send a text message while crossing a busy street, or piss off your spouse, take a look around - the undercover mom may be right behind you and she's taking copious notes!

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