Saturday, July 3, 2010

Got Caught Stealing

I like the Jane's Addiction song as much as anyone else, but it's not like I watch the video for helpful hints.

So I went to Duane Reade to buy some eye cream. As you may be aware, Olay has 3 or 4 lines of lotions and I can never remember whether I use the Age Defying or Total Effects or whatever, so I take the empty jar with me.

I found the aisle where they keep that stuff since this is my first time buying eye cream in my new neighborhood (those little jars last a long time, which is why they cost so freaking much). I then began the eye cream purchasing process.
  1. Take out old, empty jar.
  2. Look at old jar.
  3. Look at products on shelf.
  4. Look at jar.
  5. Look at shelf.
  6. Jar.
  7. Shelf.
  8. Resolve myself to the absence of my particular eye cream on the shelf.
  9. Put old jar back in my bag.
At this point, an old blonde woman who looks like she brushes her hair only slightly more often than the average bag lady gives me a dirty look and puts herself and her shopping cart between me and the shelf, making a big show of finding the lotion that matches her coupon. Instead of fighting with the crazy lady, I start examining my eye cream options on an adjacent shelf. I compare the two Loreal eye creams and put one back. The Crazy Old Bitch, henceforth to be referred to as the COB for short, finally goes away and I settle on the ROC eye cream, which is on sale and is the only one they have that I haven't tried before.

Any suggestions on an eye cream that will actually do something about the dark circles under my eyes instead of just claiming it will? That would rock.

I wondered what this woman's problem was and assumed she thought I was shoplifting with a COB 5 inches away from me. Because dishonest people are stupid.

WTF did I care? I didn't steal anything and only had my Envirosax bag with my wallet and a few other things tossed in it, so I could prove my innocence quickly if it came to that. It's not like I never thought I'd have to explain the old jar in the years I've been doing this. White privilege probably kept things easy for me. Someone browner and younger than I am might be watched more closely and with less trust. Which sucks, but I'm the last person to say that the world doesn't suck.

I get on line and discover COB standing next to the registers since rude people don't need to stand on line. She starts talking to herself about batteries, walks over to the batteries, takes a package of AAAs, says "These look short," and asks the guy in front of me what kind you use for remote controls. The guy mumbles and I and the guy behind me both say, "It depends." COB says, "I was talking to him," as me and the guy behind me ignore her and keep explaining batteries.

COB goes back to her cart and starts unloading her stuff when the person who was at the register finishes. No one objects because who the fuck is going to bother fighting with a COB over cutting the line when there are two cashiers and things are moving quickly. Some things are just not worth it.

The other cashier frees up and COB leans over and says something to him. He starts ringing up my products and picks up the phone and asks "Did you finish that thing?" or something like that. This is clearly Duane Reade code for Code Red because another guy came up and my cashier asked him to finish ringing me up. Also, a manager (a thin, authoritative woman) was standing by the exit. I checked my receipt to make sure I got the discounts I should've gotten from the rewards card because I bought HA 2 deodorants to get the discounted price and I'm not going to smell a different brand on him for that long without a discount.

I stepped away from the counter and the manager asked me to come to the back. I said, "Sure," in an emphatic, I've got nothing to hide, you're just doing your job way. In the back room, which contains a table, a couple of chairs and small lockers for the employees (I cringe to think this is where they have to take their break--no wonder Duane Reade employees are known for being grouchy and unhelpful. Though this is the magic Duane Reade where the employees are consistently nice, so credit where credit is due.), I go to the table and start emptying my bag. When I get to the old, empty jar, I show it to the manager, tell her why I have it, explain that the COB saw me putting it in my bag and complained about COB getting in my way when I was trying to shop.

For the non-eye cream consumers in the audience, the jars come in boxes and are usually see-through enough so that it's obvious when they're full or empty. I've been bringing the old jar with me for years without trouble because it's so obviously an old jar.

I'd suspected that it would come to this, but I was still shaking in anger and embarrassment. I'm 39 for fuck's sake. Plus, the last time I shopped in that Duane Reade, my credit card didn't go through because someone had stolen the number and tried to spend $996 in India, which the credit card company flagged as suspect. So I'd had enough issues in this one location for one week.

The manager apologized and explained that they have to act when someone makes an accusation (even when they're COBs) and I left.

I kept my eye out for COB because I'm from Brooklyn and do not take it lightly when someone fucks with me.

She was hanging out outside the store, waiting for the cops to haul me away, I guess. I'm assuming her line jumping was also so she could rat me out.

I walked up to her, staying out of hitting distance, because COBs are not necessarily beyond violence. I said (and I admit that this isn't my classiest moment), "I didn't steal shit." You know, because I'm from Brooklyn and that's how we talk when we're pissed off.

She accused me of getting scared and putting it back and I told her to go fuck herself. Again, not my best moment, but I suffer fools less gladly than most people. Of course, I didn't expect her to apologize. I was mad and I was letting it out. On the street. With people turning around to look. To my credit, I didn't take out the empty jar and throw it at her.

I don't lose my temper with HA because of his patented mellowness, so it made a nice change to yell.

She told me I should go fuck myself because I would know about that because no one would fuck me. Because astoundingly stupid criminals never get laid, I assume.

I walked away because I had gotten what I wanted out of the interaction and should've been at the laundromat helping HA fold the laundry. She shouted that she used to work for the cops. Not that she was a cop, but that she worked for them. Perhaps as an informant when her crack dealer boyfriend pissed her off enough for her to turn him in. Or maybe she was a file clerk who picked up super undercover skills while putting papers into folders.

As I walked across the street, she shouted, "What's in your underwear?" which I assumed convinced the onlookers which one of us was the COB. Also? I was wearing a maxi dress with a t-shirt underneath. Neither of my undergarments is exactly accessible in that ensemble for the purposes of stashing ill gotten booty, or for any other purposes, really.

Fortunately, I have a blog because after I ranted the whole story to HA, I had more ranting to do and the man can only be expected to put up with so much.

He says I should've offered the COB my sympathies for her being such an asshole. I wish I'd refused to go to the back and had the manager look in my bag in front of everyone, COB included.

So now what? Everyone who works in the magic Duane Reade will recognize me as the lady who may be shoplifter? Then again, both cashiers made sure to scan my rewards card and even gave me the $5 off I'd earned with my rewards points. You know, right before they escorted me to the back to see if they needed to call the cops.

Any more I shoulda saids?

Now, excuse me while I do something about these dark circles under my eyes.


  1. Obviously girlfriend had some problems. I guess what I would do is keep hanging around the neighborhood trying to run into her again. Really mess with her mind.

  2. photoballads.blogspot.comJuly 6, 2010 at 6:11 PM

    UGH, that COB is horrible! I wish you DID throw the empty bottle at her. I do the same thing with my empty foundation bottles so I can remember the correct shade. What a lunatic. Made for one hell of a story though!

  3. Ugh. So sorry you had to go through that. But hey, it makes for a great story!

  4. I am sorry that you had to go through that. People can be such assholes at times.

  5. I probably would have yelled at her, too. Not that that makes it any better, but I am unable to control my temper in those kinds of situations.

  6. Dude-that is hilarious! Only now, after the fact of course. I'm always terrified something like that will happen to me.
    I think you handled it with aplomb. Although not from Brooklyn-I am proud.

  7. What an indescribable nightmare! I felt nauseous just reading it.

    I offer you this story only in the hopes that it might make you smile. Many years ago, I went to a clothing store in New York and and my umbrella snagged a shirt. When I left the store, the alarm didn't go off, so I had was clueless, but then, half-way down the block, I noticed I was dragging something behind me. So I turned around and went back into the store to return the shirt and THAT'S when the alarm went off. The security guard glared at me but didn't do anything about it because I think he wasn't quite sure what to do about someone who was bringing stolen merchandise IN to the store...


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