The cops are around all the time downtown, sometimes when you least expect it. I’ve had better luck sticking my head out of the store and yelling than playing phone-tag with an automated non-emergency system. Most things I need the police for do not warrant a 911 call, and the perps are long gone by the time I get official attention.
But not always…
Grinder was busy nosing around the Waterfront Store, peeking at my paperwork, issuing commands that would fall upon deaf ears the minute he left, etc… I enjoy chatting with the manager of the Mothership, my old friend from the uber-religious teen years of the ’70s. He is technically my boss, but I answer mostly to Dr T these days. And Master P, of course. Dr T and I have a more tolerant view of the customer base than Grinder, who polices the world for indignities on a moment-by-moment basis.
One of our customers was about to have a Grinder moment.
We were discussing making cookies or getting laid or some otherwise unimportant subject when Grinder went ‘on point’. His lips purse, his ears point up and out, and he’s off with the intensity of a bomb-sniffing dog. When he yelled “HEY!” and took off like a shot, I knew the fun was about to commence.
He ran out the door, then I heard him say, “Yes, officer, right this way!”
While I’d been writing numbers from lottery sales, Grinder had been watching shoppers. His object of excitement? A teenage black male. (No, not THAT kind of excited. Grinder likes his black males fully ripe.) When the youngster made a break for the train, he’d grabbed a little somethin’-somethin’ to go.
And ran right into the arms of five uniformed police officers (and a dog) conducting bomb sweeps on the MAX.
“Man, your timing SUCKS!” I laughed out loud and thanked the officers. Grinder was having a ball, telling the cops, “I figured I’d maybe get the can back and exclude him. THIS is priceless!”
The youngster appeared to be about fourteen. At first he said he was twelve, then sixteen. “Are you gonna call my mother?”
“We’re going to arrest you, then call your mother, if you’re not forthcoming with the right name and date of birth.”
The kid’s lower lip quivered, but he didn’t quite cry. He was dressed expensively, but didn’t have the hardened demeanor of the typical downtown shoplifter. My guess? His mother is a well-off upstanding church-going woman, and the hell-on-Earth she unleashes will be way worse than any the cops with dogs and guns would do.
We teased him somewhat mercilessly, calling it the crime of the century, his criminal catchphrase is “D’oh!” etc… We had to say at least once, “Bragging about being in jail only means you are a less-than-successful criminal!”
While searching him, they found two giant-sized Hershey bars. “Oh, I guess you were dying of hunger too?” The officer handed me the candy. “These belong to you?”
“Yes, sir!” We hadn’t seen that. I took them and put them on the shelf. If he hadn’t stolen them from us, too bad! How does it feel to be ripped off, asshole?
About that time Master P walked in. He saw the small army of law enforcement. “Is everyone okay?”
“Yup, just caught a shoplifter.”
He looked at the kid. “This one? Pay attention. You are hereby 86ed from all my stores. Make sure he knows which stores are ours. I need to use the restroom.” With a smirk of distaste, he left us to finish up.
The police officer made it simple. “Just stay out of ALL stores downtown.”
Grinder will get the subpoena to the arraignment, and any court appearances that follow. I can’t wait to hear the kid’s lawyer. “He read the label on the can, and was just following instructions…”