I’m not going to beat around the bush on this one. I absolutely hate strollers. This hatred is a consuming, engulfing, fire of a thousand suns hot rage that burns up your logic like quick burning paper. It leaves you with a vacuous hole where a rational woman once lived. Strollers are truly one of the most deplorable contraptions known to society. They are known in the zoo/aquarium world as the “Mobile Home of the Toddler World” or Mobilican idontwannawalka giganticus from the family Monstrositae. Be wary of this man-made organism, it multiplies in seconds and feed on shins, toes, and sloth.
Now, I have nothing against the old school “OG” stroller; the small collapsible. It can be a long day at your local zoo or park and little ones tire out. Unless you want to carry a small, seemingly dead body when they pass out that collapsible will be a life saver.
No, the typical stroller of yore is not the pest of which I speak. I am referring to the subspecies that has evolved; the super-sized, double wide, rolling condo on wheels that requires a license plate and its own subdivision in your car and home. It strikes fear and terror into the heart of every educator, docent, floor volunteer and intern, zookeeper, trainer, and aquarist on the planet. When we see them coming we freeze like deer in oncoming headlights. Stand in our shoes for a moment and picture this. You curl your toes under within the safety of your sneakers and unconsciously snarl at the idea of another bruise. You eyeball the tiny human that rides in the belly of the beast with wariness and a touch of pity. You pray, you break a small sweat, and your body becomes rigid. You struggle to put a leash on your panic. Thankfully, they pass by uneventfully and you can breathe a sigh of relief and unclench… only to see four more coming right towards you. You beseech the universe and cry, “WHY have you forsaken me?”, and you know it’s just a matter of time before your foot becomes road kill or you catch a lever on the back of your heel.
Folding, packing, unpacking, unfolding, and the loading up of this behemoth cannot be easy. It must require a Herculean effort and the back of a mule. That’s why, for the life of me, I cannot figure out why once all this effort has been invested that the very first question when they approach you at the park is….wait for it…
“Where can I park this?”
Number One: Considering one of these suckers has actually cracked one of my toenails in the past, a more loaded question has never been uttered.
Number Two: Nowhere. You brought it, you own it, and you keep it with you.
To be honest, Number Two is just a day dream. We don’t have that snarky option and most of the larger zoos and aquariums now provide stroller parking at different exhibits to keep them out. The squirrels love it and pillage your stroller the moment you leave. They have even figured out snaps and zippers and I have personally spied other squirrels watching and learning. Observed behaviors, you gotta love ‘em!
Other than providing access to processed food for our bloodthirsty squirrels, stroller parking is completely necessary if you have the real estate to provide it (many small or older facilities don’t). One of my biggest pet peeves at a small aquarium I worked for was the tendency these giant strollers had to take “extended breaks” in front of the exhibits. This stationary behavior is the Graco® mating call and before you could blink there was a pile of them; it starts to resemble a Babies-R-Us® graveyard. The exhibit that you worked on tirelessly and you could not wait to open is now completely blocked off by a hoard of wheeled recliners. It’s a wall, comprised of nylon roadblocks, that smells like candy-coated vomit and is the latest in ergonomic design. I used to have fantasies of taking a blowtorch to them but people tend to take destruction of their property seriously. Eventually they leave, one by one, and there is the inevitable litter blanket of crushed Cheerios®, chips, candy, and crackers on the ground.
Do I hate people that own and use strollers? No, but I do sometimes question the logic of feeding a child enough sugar to fill a mason jar and then strapping them down. Back to the point, I just hate giant strollers. They are the Decepticons® of the neonate gear world, the antagonist to the Baby Bjorn®. If a double-wide stroller was a Star Wars® character it would be Jabba the Hutt, the fat bastard.
So, the next time you see a zoological employee looking a little twitchy at your approach please don’t judge them too harshly. Watching you close in with a colossal stroller is like watching your notorious alcoholic uncle show up to Christmas dinner with a full bottle of Knob Creek and a 2 liter of soda, knowing he polished off another set at home. You aren’t quite sure what is going to transpire but it will definitely be messy, possibly painful. So, don’t take it personally because it’s not you. It’s that hell spawn beast on wheels that barely fits through the door. However, in the spirit of full disclosure, it was hilarious to watch you try to push it through a turnstile.
Hugs and Fishes, ya’ll!