This is a true story:
This past Sunday, I was at an undisclosed large book store in Fairfield County, which happened to house a well known coffee shop, minding my own business, nursing a latte and happily immersed in a fascinating book on effectively parenting your teenager without running off to Fiji, when a funny thing happened.
In walked a guy lugging two tiny baby carriers, in which were housed two tiny infants, each about the size of a large roast chicken. This pleasant looking man sat down at the table next to me, placed the infants in their carriers on the floor by his table and proceeded to pull a bottle to feed the awake little roast chicken out of his mammoth designer diaper bag. As he was feeding the well behaved little thing I couldn’t help but ask if her was alone — he was…. and how well he seemed to manage the two of them, who, as he revealed, were a mere six weeks old.
He smiled and we chatted for a couple of minutes, and then I returned to my book trying to squeeze as much into my brain as possible in the next 30 minutes before returning it to the shelves and taking off. I sucked it up and bought it, if you’re wondering… was too good not to buy even though I know I could have gotten it on Amazon for at least half the price. (I’m a slave to book store guilt — something about my duty to do my part to not let a ship sink.) But this is where the world started to stray from its axis:
Just as I was starting to really get into the section titled "How to Get Your Teen Out of Bed in the Mornings Without Losing All of Your Hair," the father of the roasters gets up and, skipping over me, approaches a pleasant couple at the table on the other side of me and asks them a question. I couldn’t hear the question but within seconds was able to figure it out, as roaster dad gets up from the table carting roaster #1 over to this young girl (22? 23?), plants the carrier down, returns to his table, grabs roaster #2, still fast asleep, and plants her down in front of the poor unsuspecting male companion/boyfriend/husband. Within seconds he had both babies bottles planted down on the table in front of each of the wide eyed recipients, fished into one carrier, pulled out roaster #1, plops her down in the lap of now wild eyed girl, returns to carrier #2, grabs still sleeping roaster #2, plants her in the arms of male companion/boyfriend, etc., then picks up both bottles, one in each hand and immediately plugs these roasters with a bottle, which in turn forced girl and boy recipient to really get into the game, and proceeds to take off to the other end of the very large bookstore.
At least, I thought, he hadn’t bounded for the door.
The three of us sat in stunned silence for about 30 seconds to try and absorb what had just happened, until finally I leaned over, again not minding my own business, and quietly said, “ I hope you’re not the church steps!” Both girl and boy nodded their heads slightly wildly and, captured underneath each individual infant, sat there numbly feeding someone else’s newborns with a look of shock across their faces.
I kept waiting for the sound of wheels burning rubber out of the parking lot, but after about 5 minutes of not hearing anything, and not seeing any slinking along the floor of the store towards the exit doors, I returned once again to my book, with one eye open on the scenario in front of me.
By minute 8 (who’s counting? well, me…) we had another development. I looked up from my chapter on "How to Get Your Teenager to Stop Looking At Themselves in the Mirror Every 10 Seconds" to see the once bewildered and traumatized couple making goo goo eyes at their new charges, taking photos of each of them holding each baby, and eventually, asking me to take a photo of the whole happy family. This was getting too weird. Now, not only was I worried that the dad had just easily skipped town, but here we have the other side of the coin. These kids were getting a little too comfortable! What if they turned out to be baby stealers! What to do? What to do?
Thankfully, seconds later, just as I was digging a loose Xanax out of the bottom of my bag, Bad Dad dad rebounds into the scene, fetches his brood, thanks the stranger babysitters and exits the store, carting a baby carrier in each hand.
Really this could go in so many directions, and I welcome your take on this story as I am still trying to make sense of it (should I have run to security and reported him? Should I have called 9-1-1? Should I have chased him down, warning him of what trouble he was going to be in when he got home? Thank God he showed up just as I was having to make a decision about whether to aid and abet the potential baby stealers by taking a picture of the newly formed insta-family!). But instead I’m going to spin this into a lesson in smart marketing. Watch this:
Let people sample your services, your products, and your wares. It’s the best form of marketing out there, besides a recommendation from a prior customer. Just as Baskin Robbins offers their “little pink spoons” to sample a flavor, and Costco invites you to eat your way through the store sampling new items, a free seminar, webinar, report or chapter of a book to give potential customers a “taste” of what they could have with the whole package is a smart way to market a product, and if done well and generously, will peak peoples interest in what else you have to offer.
Maybe this dad was doing some radical marketing research. I’ve decided to settle this in my mind with the take away that actually nothing bad did occur, this time (unless of course, he reported it to his wife afterwards. I wouldn’t want to be in that room), but in fact was a bit of a testament to the “good old days” when we didn’t have to constantly be on the lookout for baby abandoners and kidnappers, be programmed to assume the worst in people, and could instead believe in the goodness of our fellow bookstore buddies. I guess...
Suzen Pettit, a longtime Brookfield resident and marketer extraordinaire, is principal at Omaginarium and Omagine Health, a marketing firm specializing in growing small businesses and medical practices by creating search engine optimized websites, internet marketing, affordable SEO, blogging, vlogging and email marketing. Suzen coaches as well. She’ll teach you the ropes to grow your business online. Contact Suzen at 203-733-8578 or email her at Suzen@omaginarium.com.