Does anyone need more baby-related blogging from me? Well, tough, it’s the only thing I got going on in this town until I go to a Conan O’Brian taping on Thursday.
Amynah and I have been slowly acquiring the considerable infrastructure seemingly required by babies – dressers, clothing, bassinets, car seats, diaper pails… the list is endless. While diaper pails, changing tables and bassinets are all very important, there are specific items I see as being relevant to Dad-specific-tasks. Strollers are one, largely because they have wheels, and therefore belong in the domain of things governed by the Y-chromosome.
In preparation for this purchase, both Amynah and I have been accosting random pram-pushing strangers on the street and asking them what they like and dislike about their wheels.
It’s been an interesting experiment in gender perceptions. Most of the women we’ve spoken to recommend strollers based on how easily they fold, whether they have a storage basket, and how heavy they are. Men, on the other hand, seem to like cup holders.
Personally, I seem to be attracted to carriages with big wheels, the better to go hiking in the local mountain parks. The other day, I stopped a woman pushing a stroller that seemed to match what I’d like – not too big, large wheels, fairly stylish. I asked the woman about it, and she said “Yeah, it’s great! Except it doesn’t fold very easily. And it isn’t car seat compatible. And my first child outgrew it very quickly. And it’s way too heavy for me.”
Needless to say, her husband had bought it for her.
I didn’t want Amynah transporting our child on a white elephant. Her choice of stroller, after polling friends and strangers, was the MacLaren Tech XT. I can’t help but laugh at the model name – whenever I hear it I can’t help imagine it in a commercial, zipping in slo-mo over the Salt Flats trailing a dramatic plume of dust.
Image from themaclarenstroller.com
Saturday we drove out to the Babies R’ Us store to pick one up: no luck – they don’t carry it. This was deeply frustrating to me – I had decided to get a stroller, so goddamnit, I wanted to come home with a stroller. So yesterday, I headed out again, walking this time to a baby matériel depot.
I walked in and told the friendly woman at the desk the model I was looking – refraining from using my Monster Truck rally voice (“Maclaren Tech XT …xt… xt… xt… Versus… The Bugaboo Brawler! This Saturday! In the Diaperdrome!”) She immediately pulled one out for me, showed me the various features (it holds a baby… and rolls. No cupholders, iPod stations, or DVD players). Apparently, the promotional material for this particular stroller boasts that it was designed by aircraft engineers.
I would have been happy to have paid and wheeled it out of there on the spot, but she told me that the store had received a recall notice on the stroller just an hour before. Being more irritated at having had walked twenty blocks* only to be thwarted again, I didn’t ask why. The saleslady took my name and number, and promised to call when the strollers had been fixed.
It wasn’t until that evening that we learned what the recall was about. Amynah’s uncle called us in a tizzy, telling us that the MacLaren strollers were being recalled in their millions because they are apparently amputating the fingers of their passengers. Somehow, the saleslady neglected to mention this.
Now, there’s a certain amount of panic about this online , with plenty of people saying they’ll never use MacLaren strollers again. For our part, we’re still going to buy ours.** The defect is only relevant if the child sticks their finger in the hinge while the stroller is being folded – in other words, if they’re doing something they’re not supposed to do, something happens that isn’t supposed to happen. It doesn’t strike me as particularly onerous to keep an eye out to make sure that infant digits are out of harms way when folding the stroller, especially as the problem is now being fixed. Other things that will hurt your fingers when you stick your fingers into them include bagel cutters (me, age 22), car doors (my younger sister, age 3), and dogs (me again, age 7, 9 and 18). Not to downplay the trauma suffered by the parents and children involved, but the world is full of risks and, quite frankly, 12 non-fatal injuries out of the millions of buggies sold over the last several years is a better safety record than pretty much any other household item I can name, including telephones and houseplants.***
Nonetheless, I can’t help but be somewhat concerned. If the MacLaren was designed by aircraft engineers, I’m not quite sure that I’ll be comfortable flying ever again. Maybe next time, they should try using baby-stroller engineers.
* It would have only been 12 blocks, were it not for having to circumvent the iron fencing defending the enormous Mormon temple complex between my apartment and the store. That is, the enormous complex for the Mormon temple – it isn’t a temple complex for enormous Mormons. I think.
** Nonetheless, in honour of its monster truck heritage, I’m going to call it “The Mangler.” Take that, Bugaboo Brawler.
*** Besides, don’t babies’ fingers grow back?