Retail Life Episode #16

                Some people have a lot of nerve. They think they can get away with anything. They have probably gotten away with a lot of stuff when no one was paying attention. They get gutsy. They get brave. They get stupid. They get caught.

                Example number one; Older man walks into the store. I’m near the front, stocking a food cart. I greet the man and he says hello in return. He rounds the corner and asks if we have any of the bud ice beer in the back. So, see how we’ve interacted with each other? I know he’s there, he knows I’m there, he knows I know he’s there.

                A minute or two goes by. I’m still working the food and he’s still over by the cooler wall. I know this because now he’s talking to another customer about how hot it is outside. Another minute passes and then I see him walk up the chip aisle and beelines right for the door, carrying a gallon of sweet tea. My moment of shock passes quickly and I shout, “You gonna pay for that tea?”

                He stops and I can see the shock all over his face that he’s been caught. Like, how dare I be standing there seeing him do this. Shame on me for being exactly where he knew I was because we’d already exchanged a few words.

                His answer? “Well, no one’s ever at the counter to check me out!”

                “You didn’t even go to the counter. And if you did, you’d see the bell sitting there to get someone to come up there. But my cashier is standing over there right now.”

                “He’s finally over there!” He makes his way over to the counter, pulling a wad of cash out of his pocket.

                “What do you mean finally? He’s been there this entire time, ringing people up.”

                “He’s never over here.”

                “Someone not standing at the counter doesn’t mean you can just steal things.”

                “You know what, you can keep this tea.” Sets the gallon down in someone else’s shopping cart.

                “And you can get out of my store and not come back.”

                “I’ll do whatever I want.”

                “And I’ll call the cops.”

                He slams his way out the door.

                Now. I know he wouldn’t go to jail over a gallon of tea, so maybe I wouldn’t waste my time calling the cops for that. However, he was clearly drunk. I could smell it and it was obvious in the way he was acting. And he was attempting to buy more beer. So, the cops would have been interested to know about someone drunk in public. Someone who, I found out later, had just barely gotten out of jail in the first place.

                Example number two; a regular customer walks into the store. I’m standing behind the checkout doing paperwork. I say hello. She doesn’t acknowledge me and walks straight to the shampoo aisle. Not a rare occurrence, so I just go back to what I’m doing. A moment later, she comes up to the counter with three different bottles of conditioner and a stick of deodorant. I start to ring them up when she says, “I’d like to return these.”

                All I can do is stare at her blankly.

                She says, “If that’s okay.”

                I say, “You just now walked in here with nothing in your hands.”

                “No, I had these.”

                “No, you didn’t. I saw you walk in, you walked right by me. You weren’t carrying anything.”

                “I had them right here.” She pats the front of her pants.

                “You had them in your pants?”

                “No, I was carrying them.”

                “No, you weren’t.”

                “Ugh, girl!” She looks like she’s about to cry right now. But no, I don’t feel sorry for her. I have overheard this woman tell other customers all kinds of crazy stories to get money or free things from them. I know she’s got some addiction issues, the way she looks, acts, and handles money. So, no, I don’t feel sorry for her not getting her way with me.

                So, I say it right back. “Ugh, girl.” Followed by, “And I bet you don’t even have a receipt, do you?” Because she frequently brings random items back without a receipt. Those other items may or may not have been stolen and then returned later. But this time it was so clear that she’d walked in to grab random things to try and get money for them. I know this is something people do at Walmart. But at Walmart, the greeter isn’t the same person as the cashier; whether you walked in with an item can’t be determined by the person processing your refund.

                Anyway, she sighs and walks out. Without even trying to take the conditioner and deodorant with her. Which, in my opinion, was the ultimate admission of guilt. Because, if she’d actually bought those items and wanted to return them, she would have insisted on taking them with her when she left. But she didn’t. Because she knew she’d been caught.

                I just can’t believe the things that people do sometimes. I know that crazy stuff goes one when I’m not at the front end. I’m sure people have gotten away with walking out without paying before because we were working. And I’m sure people have returned things that they picked up while in the store. But the fact that I was right there, right there, when they tried to do it and they were shocked that they were caught? It just blows my mind.