Little Karmic Rewards

October 29, 2017 at 7:40 pm (Cussed Dumbers, Drunk and disorderly)

Shoplifting is THEFT

After last week’s shit-show, I was optimistic that work could only get better. That could also be wishful thinking. I went in with the best of intentions, not gonna let the bastards win, etc… They gave it their best shot, but in the end I declared myself the winner.

The path to weekend wasn’t without a couple bumps here and there. The first couple days, at the Waterfront Store, tested my patience. Scoring a buttload of pastries from the bakery cured my low blood-sugar, and allowed me to be a pastry-Santa. (Adding special butter gives my day a patient, easygoing feel.) I took a handful of cinnamon twists home, and dispersed the scones, cupcakes and cinnamon rolls amongst my co-workers. Igor was particularly grateful. He bought me a cinnamon twist the next day, and pizza slices from the classy joint across the Avenue. (NY-style, foldable, so good…) He’s also hung around during my shift, helping to alleviate attempted shoplifts. It’s paid off, in more ways than one.

Indulge me, if you please? Take a puff, sit back with your feet up while I brag about our crime-fighting exploits…

Igor is a good-natured kid, a full time college student whose dad is about my age, and has my kind of party habits. Having a dad as a good/bad example has kept him from getting too experimental, but he’s familiar with LSD, MDMA and all the other alphabet soup. He’s dealt weed in school, and knows a lot about life for his age.

Just like me, back in the day.

I arrived at the Nightclub Store, Igor was neatening up the coffee counter, getting everything just-so for shift change. As soon as he left for the back with his till, a scruffy, homeless-looking woman comes in and offers to sell me jewelry.

“Sorry, I’m broke.” I wasn’t really. I had $2.

She pulled out a Jersey bankroll and thumbed through, to show she had cash. “I’m going to look around.”

I went about my opening accounting chores, glancing up once in a while to monitor her whereabouts. She was standing in the candy aisle, reading the label on a Twix bar. For a long time. I coughed, she looked up. I smiled and nodded, but my eyes were all business.

Igor came out of the back, saw my object of focus, and went over to help her. Of course she got moving. “Why don’t you guys have prices on anything?”

I scanned her bag of Gummy Turds and fountain soda. “$3.48.”

“WHAT? You guys are crazy. I ain’t spending that on candy.”

She went back to the pastry aisle. An inebriated fellow, buying a peach Swisher with a $20 said, “Give that lady the change. She’s so, so… poor!” He walked out the door, leaving me with a fistful of money.

“You guys don’t put prices on anything, you charge a fortune, I’ll just take the soda. You guys are such a ripoff.”

Angel on this shoulder, devil on the other.

I peeled $2 off the handful of change, and stuffed the rest into my pocket. “That guy who just left said to buy you these.” I rang up two Little Debbie’s and put the $2 into the till.

“That was nice of him. See, the world’s not COMPLETELY full of assholes.” She snatched her pseudo-Twinkies and hit the road.

I pulled the wad out of my pocket, took the ten-dollar-bill, and handed the rest to Igor. “And if he’d seen the wad of cash in her pocket, and known how long she’d dick us around just to steal candy, he’da given us twice as much!” I looked at Igor. “We earned that. Thanks for sticking around.”

“Cool! *I* can afford dinner now!”

He bought (and shared) a bag of Flaming Hot Ruffles and helped me maintain order, much like the old days when Festus would hang around. He shadowed potential shoplifters and made my night easier in general.

But eventually, he had to go home. Just me, alone with the fruits, nuts and squirrels of the Avenue.

Saturday night before Halloween, the night all the “adults” party. Some years it’s great, other years it’s like Amateur Night. (New Years, St Patrick’s, 4/20, etc…) The bar had busloads of costumed revelers coming and going. One bunch I could only describe as “Fat Deadwood” were more fun from a distance. In the meantime, I’m dealing with the crazies from the area, Saturday night drunks, and still-in-costume anime fans from a convention.

Funny thing, even with all the costumes, multicolored hair and such? It doesn’t seem like anything more than a typically weird day in Portland Fucking Oregon, AKA The norm.

We still had business to attend to, and crime to fight. People weren’t done thievin’ yet.

When you’ve cashiered as long as I have, you can look at a person and know they’re going to steal. When the effeminate little toad snatched the White Chocolate Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and looked at me, I knew. But… Until he actually does something, there’s not much I can do.

There’s not much I can do if I catch ’em. But more on that in a minute…

Toady looked about 20 years old; a privileged, white, Washington County spoiled brat. We’d make eye contact every few minutes, and he’d make another pass around the store. (Ditching something he thought I’d seen him grab, presumably.) Again with reading a candy bar label for ten minutes. This has become a pet peeve of tremendous proportions. If you want me to go Mammy-Nun on your ass, make me watch you read a fucking candy bar label for ten minutes.

After twenty minutes, he came to the counter. No white chocolate, just a regular-sized Fastbreak. He threw a $20 on the counter, like he was disgusted to be there. I snatched the bill off the counter and set the candy bar aside.

“Is that everything?” I looked him square in the eye.

“Yes. Can we hurry?” His jacket was rolled up under his left arm.

I reached toward the rolled-up jacket, into the Tootsie Pop center, grabbing a silver wrapper. I pulled out a Peppermint Pattie. “What’s this?”

“Oh, I forgot about that.” He jitterbugged around some more.

“So, is that it?” I was using my angry dad voice now.

“Yes.”

“Oooo-kay.” I reached over and pulled out the king sized White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup. “What else you got in there?” I grabbed the sleeve of his jacket, and he pulled away. At that point everything spilled out of his jacket. Another SUPER-SIZED Reese’s, two king-sized Rice Crispy Treats, a granola bar.

“Um, I will pay for that,” he stammered.

“You’re fuckin’-aye-right you will.” I had already dialed Clean & Safe, and Thrilla, my former trainee, was on dispatch. “Hey Thrilla, I need an officer at the Nightclub Store right now. Got a shoplifter in custody!”

“Give me my money back!” said Toady.

“We’ll deal with that after you talk to the cops.”

I looked up in time to see my subject of arrest walk out the door. He was gone less than 30 seconds when Officer Tommy rode up. “At ease, sir! All has been atoned!”

I told officer Tommy my tale of whoa, made a list of the stolen items just in case. If Toady came back with his dad, I might consider giving his money back. But, of all the successful, unsuccessful or otherwise thwarted thieves that day, Toady was the one who may have learned a lesson.

And I’ve got dinner money this week.

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