Monday, December 8, 2008

Shoplifting: Case 01 - A Small Church In The Country

   Someone tapped my shoulder.
   "New Guy, come with me."
   It was Carey, the store blonde. She walked and I trailed after her. I had been "floating," tidying the Rock bins and approaching customers to see if they wanted assistance. Earlier, a girl had asked me about New Order, a group I barely knew, yet I had successfully sold her the latest CD. I wondered if she had been a test, to see if I would actually help people or blow them off.
   Carey, I already knew, one did not blow off.
   I had gotten on her bad side the first time I worked with her.
   "I'm looking for a Manager."
   "I'm one of the Managers. There are female managers."
   "No, it's not that. Other than Dan or The Boss, I don't know who all the Managers are."
   "I'm the Video Manager," she sighed, exasperated. "What do you need?"
   I told her. She helped me. But I kept away from her for a week.
   After a month, Carey no longer regarded me as an unfastened button.
   We walked through Video and into the Back Room. An older man sat on the nasty vinyl couch. Todd, the Back Room guy, stood nearby, as did Danny and Rob.
   "You need to stay back here with Todd," Carey instructed. "Danny has an order deadline, and Rob is supposed to take me to lunch."
   "Yes, ma'am. I can do that, but what do you -- "
   "Stay here until the police show up. Make sure he doesn't leave," she nodded at the guest. One eyebrow arched, "He was caught shoplifting."
   Carey, Danny, and Rob departed. Todd looked at me, then he and the gentleman continued their discussion.
   The man was older. Gray hair, gray beard. Stocky. Wore a white shirt. I assumed he swiped Country. Wrong. LL Cool Jay, Two Live Crew, and Ice-T. Hard core rap cassettes, stuffed in his back britches.
   The guy was a preacher.
   "Got us a small church out in the country. And I wanted to investigate the temptations some of my younger parishioners face."
   "Only you didn't feel like paying?"
Todd countered.
   "Would be a sin to fund the Devil's business."
   "Stealing is a sin, man."
   "I was doing God's work. Besides, what would someone like you know about sin?"
He was polite, but sanctimonious.
   "Plenty. My father is a minister."
   Their dialogue reminded me of old church arguments about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. One of the many reasons I declined to enroll in seminary school. Back in the day, many assumed I would follow the path of The Word, but I knew my limitations better.
   The thief was full of shit, defending his transgression by pleading God's mission. What a crock. The clichéd "good intentions" excuse. I didn't participate. I stood quietly. Turned a proverb over in my mind. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Maybe he thought Todd would release him. Doubtless, he never thought a fellow minister's offspring would work in a record joint.
   Police appeared, Todd waved me off. The Boss and Trina came back to give witness statements.
   The theft was minor, but the cops took him downtown.
   That was the first shoplifter I saw. Man Of God.

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