Halifax — On Friday a woman gave birth in a bathroom stall in a Halifax Superstore, where an assistant manager was obliged to help in the delivery.
The woman had no idea she was pregnant, according to the father of the now-famous “Superstore baby”; the whole ordeal was completely unexpected for the infant’s parents as well as employees.
“But clearly, this is something that could happen in any Superstore at any time,” said regional manager Brent Hamilton. “We need to be prepared for any eventuality. That’s why we’ll be adding a maternity aisle in each location, placed directly in the centre of cereals and dry goods such as pasta and rice. We want it to be easily accessible to shoppers who are about to give birth.”
Hamilton said in addition to these maternity aisles, Superstores will be training part- and full-time staff in all things birthing.
“We don’t have the time or resources to recruit actual doctors and nurses, but at Superstore, our current training program is already highly efficient and effective, so we’ll simply bolster it with basic medical education. If someone can learn to use a cash register, what’s to say they can’t learn to cut an umbilical cord? These skills aren’t that different, when you think about it.
“That apathetic teenager with the septum piercing bagging your groceries will also be a trained doula,” he went on. “The old crank taking your mail at the post office will become a skilled midwife. The butcher will have a firm grasp of C-section deliveries. It’s the least we can do to show our valued customers how much we care.”
Cashier Jenn Dorchester was working at the time of the birth.
“There was screaming coming from the bathroom, and the customers in my checkout line heard it and looked really freaked out,” she recounted. “It was pretty unsettling for everyone. The sight of blood makes me queasy and I hate that hospital smell… I better be getting a steep raise if I have to deal with this regularly.”
Hamilton said that, indeed, staff will be paid above minimum wage given their new responsibilities. “At least 50 cents more per hour, I would think.”
The Manatee asked customers what they thought of the change, and got mixed reactions.
“I think it’ll be good for Atlantic Canada,” said shopper Darlene Anderson. “If giving birth in a grocery store becomes the norm, hospital space will be freed up, and honestly, our healthcare system needs all the help it can get. Besides, I actually like grocery shopping — I wish I’d had the option to give birth to my kids here at Superstore where I’m comfortable.”
“It doesn’t sound too sanitary,” said Harry Gregson. “Imagine it — you ask the stockboy to reach the chicken soup on the top shelf and he passes it to you with hands that have just delivered a baby. That’s nasty. I’m sure they’ll have to wash, but still.”
Hamilton said Superstore is aware that not all customers wish to overhear or witness a birth while buying their food for the week. “We realize some people are uncomfortable with the miracle of life, so we will be giving those shoppers 1,000 bonus PC Points for each birth they’re privy to.
“That way everyone’s happy.”