July 26, 2010

Diaper Drama at General Mills

After the events of this past weekend, I think it's safe to say that I have THE WORST LUCK with public diaper changes of anyone that I know. Regardless of the level of subtlety employed or the speed with which the change is executed, the instant I pull a diaper from my bag when we are away from home, I seem to have a target planted squarely on my back... and people are taking notice.

Several of you were present a couple months ago when I quietly changed Nathaniel's diaper in a busy restaurant and was subsequently chastised by a waiter for doing so. As a mama, I took offense to his comments, but held my tongue, which in and of itself is no small feat. When I encountered a similar situation this past weekend, I can't say that I held my tongue. But as a mother, I also cannot say that I regret my words or my actions, since both protected my child and kept him safe.

My family and I were driving across the Twin Cities to go to a friend's party when the inevitable happened- Nathaniel pooped. Like any conscientious parents, we pulled off the highway into the first parking lot we could find, which just so happened to be the parking lot of the General Mills corporation.

I would like to take this opportunity to interject that we were not vandalizing their property. We were not dropping a tailgate to grill some burgers, nor were we camping out for the night. I simply got out of the car, stood outside the back passenger door and was in the process of changing a dirty diaper.

We had been in the parking lot for LESS THAN TWO MINUTES when we saw a go cart headed across the lot toward us. Naturally, the hubs and I both assumed it was security personnel. I continued cleaning up the babe, naively assuming that the guard would understand what we were doing and would sympathize with needing a quick rest stop for the babe. After all, it's not as though we could change his diaper in the middle of the highway.

The Rent A Cop pulled up and parked his cart all of two inches away from our car. After seeing that we were changing a diaper and determining that we were not General Mills employees, he informed us that we were on private property and that we needed to leave.

Fine. No big deal, right? And it wouldn't have been... if the guard had left it at that.

But the guard continued to insist that we leave RIGHT AWAY. At that point, I was in the middle of wiping my baby's bottom. A baby who was not wearing a diaper. A baby who was not strapped into his car seat.

How the Rent A Cop expected us to up and leave at that point I have no idea.

I had no intentions of leaving without diapering my son. Likewise, I would rather face trespassing charges than to drive away, putting my son's life in danger by holding him in a moving vehicle rather than first securing him into his car seat. So I continued to clean my child up as quickly as I could. And the security guard continued to insist that we vacate the General Mills property immediately.

That was when the mommy in me had had enough. I usually don't lose my temper in public. I usually have some extent of self-control when it comes to dealing with frustrating people. But the Rent A Cop pushed me too far.

I stopped what I was doing, turned around and looked him in the eye. And with a tone that left no mistaking just how angry I was at that point, I flat-out told the guard that I was changing my son AS FAST AS I COULD.

Apparently, the security guard realized how close he was to having a face full of digested sweet potatoes. He shut his mouth, rolled up his window and sat in his go cart, babysitting us to make sure we left quickly, all the while muttering into his walkie-talkie about how "completely illegal" it was that we were on their property.

We left as quickly as we could.

Over the years, General Mills has worked very hard to create a family-friendly public image, even discussing community involvement and ethics on their website, but the lesson my family and I learned this weekend was not one of empathy or concern for a child's well-being, as their public image would lead many to believe. Rather, we learned just how quickly General Mills is willing to tarnish that shining reputation if a family in need so much as sets a toe on their property. Apparently, the security of those Lucky Charms is greater than we all realized.

Update: After publishing this post, I received an apology letter from both the head of security at General Mills as well as their consumer services department. They informed me that the actions taken by the security guard were an "overzealous response" and that the security team would be receiving additional training on how to properly respond to a situation like the one that occurred upon our visit to their property. My thanks to General Mills for responding to this situation and doing their utmost to make amends.

4 comments:

  1. Was this at the General Mills at 169 and 394? Because I hate that place. They have a beautiful garden area, pond and a very nice "bike/walking" path. I never seen anyone using the path, so one day I decided to bike on it, and then lay in the grass by the little pond. The security guard then came by and told us to get off. I was so upset because we weren't doing anything, except for enjoying their pond, and all I could think was they're spending hundreds of dollars on this beautiful lawn that they don't let people enjoy, because I have never once seen one of their employees use that space.

    Well, that's my story about strongly disliking General Mills' properties. I don't know if this is the one you were at, but either way, it's just stupid.

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  2. Unfortunately, yes. It was the General Mills just off of 169.

    And if they are so stringent about keeping it a private property, there should be signs! As it was, I didn't see ANYTHING that indicated that we couldn't be there.

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  3. This would have made me so mad too, I probably wouldn't have been able to stay as calm as you. I would have whipped out the boob and starting nursing my daughter and really piss him off!

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