What A Sight

My workplace has been running video of attempted theft at our store. It’s a “watch the footage and point out all the things wrong with this picture” exercise. No sales people, calls for help and no one moving, etc. In the example being shown, management responds to my broadcast and we save the day but, ideally, they want every team member to deter theft with customer contact.

“You’ve been a superstar all week.”

I joked to my boss, “I didn’t know I ever wasn’t one.”


Last night, two people caught my eye as they looked at a Pioneer CD receiver in carfi. It was something about the way they were all alone, hovered over the box that had been difficult to reach, looking back and forth at each other that interested me.

They had two small children who appeared to be disabled. Their skin didn’t look healthy – they had dark blotches, visible veins in their face, like they were sick. I see things like that sometimes, and my heart hurts. There are just so many ways that people are given individual struggles, unfair disadvantages, that I can’t rationalize.

The shopping cart was one of those shaped like a car to interest children in remaining seated. I watched the product start in the top basket of the cart. Then it disappeared behind a bulky corner of the store so I paged my team and saw the couple emerge with the box resting in another position. After a continued stroll through dark, unoccupied areas (calling out for contact again), they strolled up to the front door and their box appeared to be gone.

They paused before attempting to exit and looked at each other in those subtle ways that I can almost hear like conversation.

Looking toward me, I could tell they were trying to pick up on whether or not I was paying attention. I caught a glimpse of the red and white box, now nestled in between the children’s car seats. I purposely looked in the opposite direction and hummed a cheerful tune like I didn’t have a care in the world.

The female positioned herself to block my view and the male slowly pushed the cart past check-out.

I stepped in front of them, so close to the doors that they automatically opened, and thanked them for coming in with a great big, oblivious smile.

“And your kids are just beaut-OH, Did You Want To Pay For That?” I asked, and pointed at the item.

Ohhhhh. We forgot that was” was really all I remember hearing, as I kept smiling and insisting everything was hunky-dory. While my mouth moved, I bent down and wrestled with the product, focused only on getting it back. I didn’t want my voice to match the assertion it took to alter a plan in motion.

We made small talk about how times were hard. The man said he didn’t have a job. Blah blah blah, this fucking box is really in here…

I was still telling the little kids how adorable they were as I jerked that thing out from between them.

Sometimes there are more things wrong with the picture than I dare say.


12 responses to “What A Sight

    • Thank you. Their item was hardly a necessity – it was the lack of personal development (and on top of that, multiplication – really, kids?!?!) that makes me hope they have other options available to them.

  1. It’s funny how you develop that sort of sixth sense about who you need to keep an eye on (it happens if you work in a classroom as well — also (andthis sounds flippant but I mean it honestly), do you ever sort of get the feeling that you could get away with more then most people just because you’ve become so attuned as to what NOT to do?)

    I always hate having to come down on people, especially people who have obvious hardships, but I think you handled it about as well as it could possibly be handled.

    • A teacher was recently telling me that he always knows when someone is about to cheat.

      “People who studied look at their paper. People about to cheat have their head up, looking around.”

  2. I think you showed a lot of tact and compassion here. You really seem to have a good sense about the appropriate nuances when handling difficult situations at work.

  3. I think that the most fucked up thing about the whole situation is that their children are there and they are stealing. What good role models some people are. I can not believe some people. Do not get me wrong, times are tough but really, why must we resort to stealing, there is no reason. Tom and I broke but then again, we can still afford the things we need. Eh… people are absolutely ridiculous.

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