And Unrelated, But I Have Often Wondered How Hungry A Person Has To Be To Eat at Their Cafe
I went to Target the other day and bought approximately one million things, distributed among seven separate store-provided Target bags. After carefully examining my receipt for errors, because I am your grandma now, I attempted to take the things to my car. As I wheeled the cart through the theft detectors, they started dinging and I instinctively backed up into the store. I know that when you know you’re innocent you’re supposed to just sail through the door on the theory that store employees will respect that, but I am a person of many anxieties and I know that there is no tyranny like the tyranny of a person wearing khakis and a name badge.
Before I finish this fascinating story, I need to back up and tell you that when I was in high school I worked at Sears, Where America Shops, or at least Where America Used To Shop Before There Were Target Stores. For the first few months that I worked there, I would often look up from whatever I was doing (typically, what I was doing was standing around pretending not to notice customers) to see that one of the three security guards was staring at me with narrowed eyes. Sometimes, two of the three security guards would be staring at me with narrowed eyes and talking to each other out of the corners of their mouths so as not to take their narrowed eyes off me. After I’d been there maybe four or five months, I was transferred to the Boys Wear department, where I stayed for the next year and a half, selling many many pairs of Toughskin jeans, Superman Underoos, and t-shirts that said either, “Who Shot J.R.?” or “Hey HEY Hey, What’s Happening!”
As an aside, before I worked in Boys Wear, I was a floater, working in whichever department needed an extra person. However, Sears did not call us floaters; instead they called us The Flying Squad. The Flying Squad. Because going home smelling like a corn dog isn’t humiliating enough, I guess.
At any rate, after I began working in Boys Wear, the three security guards stopped staring at me with deep suspicion. In fact, because they had to walk through Boys Wear when going to and from the security office, which was located in the back of our department, they often would stop and chat with me, all friendly-like. Come to think of it, they did that pretty much every day! Friendship! One day, after having one of my three daily friendly conversations with them, I noticed there was a $20 bill folded up on the floor near the register. Being alone in the department, I called Mary in Personnel and told her I wasn’t sure if a customer dropped it or if I had dropped it out of the till when making change.
“Could it be … your money?” Mary asked.
“Nope! Not mine.”
“Are you sure?”
“Because if it’s yours, you should just keep it.”
“Okay, well, it isn’t mine.”
Mary sighed mightily and said, “all right. Give it to the auditor when you cash out your register tonight and they’ll check to see if it came from the till.” Hmmm. Mary seems disappointed in me. Maybe she thinks I should be more careful. That’s probably it.
The next day, I stopped in at Personnel to find out if the mistake was mine and I had dropped the $20 on the floor. Mary, still grievously disappointed, wouldn’t look me in the eye.
“No,” she informed me rather tersely. “It didn’t come from the cash register.”
“Oh, good!” I was pleased not to be at fault. “Oh, but that means a customer dropped it.”
“So what happens now?”
Again with the mighty sighing. I think Mary needs a chest x-ray. “We’ll hold it here for 30 days in case someone claims it.”
“What happens if no one claims it?”
“WELL THEN YOU CAN HAVE IT!”
Thirty days later, I was $20 richer. Two years later, after I no longer worked there, I ran into Marcus from Personnel (formerly Marcus from Housewares and formerly formerly Marcus from The Flying Squad) who told me that everyone in Personnel knew the $20 story and the crazy surprise ending where I didn’t pocket the $20 that security dropped on the floor to prove that I was a thief.
I am a person who, historically, has inspired suspicion in others, is my point.
Back in the present day, I am in Target, setting off alarms. I look over at the cashiers and the people staffing the customer service counter but they’re ignoring me so I think that perhaps the dinging is unrelated to my trying to leave the store with a cart containing seven bags of things, a giant purse, and a coat slung over my arm. I again go through the theft detectors, again they start dinging, and again I back up into the store, assuming that certainly this time, someone will yell out, “SWARM! SWARM!” and I will be tackled to the ground and placed in those plastic zip-tie handcuffs should I make any attempt to take the things I’d just paid for off the premises.
Huh. Again, no one associated with the Target Corporation is paying me any mind. Clearly, I am being set-up. It’s the twenty dollar bill all over again. I go to the nearest cashier and say, “the alarm keeps going off when I try to leave.” She asks if I have my receipt, and I hand it over saying, “but I didn’t buy anything that would set off the alarms, I don’t think.” She barely glances at the receipt, hands it back and says, “probably your keys triggered it. My keys always do that. You can go ahead.”
For the third time, I leave the store, beeping all the way, and after I clear the exit doors, I hear the alarm go off again. I turn back and see two Target employees running toward the door and demanding that the black woman who exited the store behind me carrying one bag of merchandise hand over her receipt. As I loaded up my trunk, I watch as they meticulously compare the three items in her bag with her receipt before narrowing their eyes and telling her she can go.
You disappoint me, Target. You really do.