Friday, April 8, 2011

Criminal Training; How to Shoplift

Grandma Gertie came back to visit me.  I love that woman like homemade bread with butter or chocolate coke on a Sunday.  She's pure and sweet, honey straight from the hive.  But she's also as tough as a grizzly and that's why she came up because Jill's been having more trouble with that Targeter who tried breaking into her house.

While Gertie was here, she helped me cut up part of the credit cards Howie compromised.  I decided to go all O. C. D. style.  I cut the main numbers on the right, threw those pieces away at the house and then put the other half back in my wallet so I could throw it away some place else.

Gertie also gave me some advice on my yard.  The thing is that I suck at decorating.  I also suck at making the yard look pretty.  Sure I can make ball gowns and play the fiddle 'til the cows come home, but I think Cade realized years ago that I AM NOT Suzy homemaker.  I'm better at playing with the kids, or striking up conversations with strangers, than I am at decorating and gardening.  I mean heck, we can't even grow an Egg Tree even if it would buy us a ticket to Heaven.

Gertie told me she saw planter barrels on sale, that we should get one quick before they sold out.  That was a great idea, but I paled when she told me the name of the store.   
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She showed me a picture like this. 

I actually got excited, until we arrived at the store.  Gertie said she'd watch the kids in the car and then pick me up at the entrance.

"Are you sure you don't want to come in?" I pleaded.

"Just hurry up, hon.  There's no need for everyone to go in."

I trudged into the store after that--I hate that store and didn't want to tell Gertie why.  There's a bagger there, who thinks it's fun being my shadow.  The instant he saw me, he got someone to cover his bagging duties and ran over to me, "So, how you doing?"

"I'm . . . great."

"Do you wanna go skiing this spring?"

Why does he always do that to me?  It's like the guy's asking me on a date, but without actually asking!  "You know, I'm married and I have four kids."

"Then how come they aren't here right now.  But that's cool.  Marriage . . . it's a great institution."

"They're out in the car with my buddy . . . who owns a billy club!" I'd laced the comment with warning, but apparently "Bag Boy" didn't get my hint.

"How old are you anyway?" he asked.

I walked toward the third check out stand which flickered with freedom.  "Why do you wanna know so much about me?" I asked.  "You're never supposed to ask a woman her age, especially if she's married."  I wanted to tell him, he looks like he's twelve and that he's been getting on my nerves so much I drove all the way across town to get groceries last week!

"Well, you don't look that much older than me and I like cougars." 

I turned to him, completely irate.  "I AM NOT a cougar!  Why do you do this to me?  Every time I come in here, all you want to do is talk to me!  I don't want to talk to you!  I just want a stupid planter barrel."  Everyone around . . . glared at me.  I felt like the wicked witch of the store.  Didn't they understand that Bagger Boy has practically been stalking me in the produce aisle!

His eyes became pools of regret.  "I didn't mean anything by it.  It's 'cause you're one of the only customers who was actually nice to me."  His eyebrows dipped and the age drained from his face leaving him younger than he'd seemed before.  I'd been so mean to him, but who could blame me?  It was either that or talk to his manager.  He sulked away like a sad little boy and all the customers around continued glaring at me until their eyes made me sprint to the bakery section. 

I called my friend after that, slumped down and whispered between some carts of cookies and breads.  I peered around.  "He kept following me again.  Bagger Boy kept following me."  My eyes darted, as if someone would find me hiding there in pastry heaven.

"Do you think he's autistic?" she asked.  "Why would he be hitting on a married woman?  I don't want to sound rude, but maybe you're taking him wrong."

"Maybe.  I mean, he didn't ask me to go skiing with him.  He just asked if I wanted to go skiing. "  My own words made me feel even worse.  I'd probably just been rude to someone who was trying to make simple conversation. 

"Exactly."

"K.  I feel like an idiot.  I gotta go get that planter barrel."

I stood from the back of the carts, glanced at my back, then snuck to the cashier.

She told me I could pay for the barrel and grab one sitting at the entrance to the store.  "Is everything all right?" she asked suddenly.

"Yeah.  It's just--"  I nearly screamed as Bagger Boy popped up at my side then. 

"Hello," he waved, "fancy seeing you here."

What the Hell?  I hadn't been sly enough.  I'd even hidden in the baking section and he still found me!  And man, did he bounce back quick.  He either had some plan to make me pay, or was a little slow like my friend had said.

"Are you sure every thing's okay?"  The lady looked from me to Bagger Boy.  "Do you two need a moment?"

"A moment?  No . . . No!" I shook my head frantically and saw the line of people behind me. "It'll be fine.  I just need that barrel."

"It'll be thirty dollars and seventy five cents, then."

I pulled out the first card I found and handed it to her.  I didn't want to look her in those Medusa eyes.  The whole thing felt like I was in a dank interrogation room and a spot light would turn on at any moment.  I looked at the salt sacks just outside of the store.  I studied every detail about them, their blue plastic, the fact that they looked dirty.

"Ma'am?"

"Yes."  I wouldn't let her drag my eyes from that salt!

"Ummm . . . Ma'am.  You can't pay with half a card."

"Excuse me?"  I looked over.  I'd handed her the half cut up visa.  "Oh my gosh.  I'm so sorry."  I fumbled in my wallet, dropped some mascara and A PAD on the floor, then handed her my real card.  "Someone stole my credit information.  I had to cut up my card."

She raised a brow as I talked and picked up the pad by my foot.

"It's been horrible.  But at least I'm not pregnant." I motioned to the pad as I stuffed it into my purse and Bag Boy caught my eyes.

"Nice."  He laughed.  "Do you need any help out?"

"Absolutely not.  No . . . thank . . . you!"

All that being said, even though I already felt like a criminal, when I walked from the store things got worse; I'll never forget what happened next and neither will Grandma Gertie.

Before I go on, in this old man's defense, I must have looked suspicious as I grabbed that barrel.  I know I looked around, worried Bag Boy would show up at any moment.  I clutched the barrel close and glanced at the automatic doors warily. 

Now, as I took one step away from the store, an old man saw me.  "She's stealing a barrel!" he screamed.  "That girl with the ugly orange coat is stealing the barrel!"

Ugly coat?  Why do people always have to be so rude--I like that coat!  Wasn't it enough he'd just accused me of stealing! 

But you know what, I was so frazzled I didn't care, and I did not stop to plead my case.  Instead, I started running WITH THE PLANTER BARREL!

The man hobbled after me.  "She's stealing that barrel!"

I ran, hoping Gertie was somewhere close.  "Gertie!  Gertie!  I'm having a bad day!"

She saw me running and  drove closer.  That man yelled and pointed.  A group of people in the parking lot saw him and looked over at me.  They started coming closer.  Gertie drove faster, but I knew the mob was about to attack.  I ran, looking back and forth. 

Would I survive the mob at the store?  Then Gertie was there.  I opened the van's door, threw the barrel in and jumped into the van.  "Drive, Gertie!  Drive!"

"What in the heck, girl?"  She sped so fast I rolled to the back of the van and the barrel smashed into my left boob!  "Did you really steal that barrel?" she scoffed.  I realized she could be in Nascar!  She'd turned from Gertie to Ger-tay!

"No.  I didn't steal this stupid thing.  I do feel like a criminal though . . ."  I sat up and watched as Bag Boy waved to us from the back entrance!  He had a grin to beat all and I suddenly wondered if he'd put the old man up to it!

It was a bad day, but at least I know Grandma Ger-tay can drive if I ever need a get-away driver.  By the time I got home, I felt like I'd graduated from Criminal Training.  I'd been rude to a bagger, hid by some pastries, shown a P-A-D in public, tried paying with a stolen credit card and run with a planter barrel! 

Maybe it wasn't such a bad day after all.  Thinking of Ger-tay's panicked face, makes me giggle now.  We'd been through quite an adverture and we'd lived to tell the tale!