I suppose it could have been worse. The fuzz could have hauled me down to the pokey. They could have treated me like a guilty perp and put me away for good in the crowbar hotel.
As it was, I stood before the husband and the teenager and the boy. Their glaring and accusing eyes penetrated my vulnerable and, I swear, innocent self.
I couldn't take their disapproval. I bleated out, “Come on! This isn’t my fault!”
The prosecutor husband walked a circle around me, his hands clasped behind his back before he asked his questions. “Did you or did you not flee the Sears store with a Lands' End wool coat that had the store security device still attached to it? And did you or did you not somehow manage to evade all security officers, all cameras and all beeping door machines when you fled the scene with said coat?”
Again, I bleated out, “Yes I did. But…”
The husband continued, “You claim to have paid for this coat that still has the security device attached. How, may I ask, did you pay for the coat?”
I lowered my head in shame. “With a stolen credit card.”
The teenager and boy jury quickly drew in a breath and shook their heads at each other.
The husband was not done. “And now you want to go back into that same store and have them remove the security device so you can wear your coat out in public. And your only proof that you didn’t steal the coat in the first place or just grab one off the rack, is your receipt that shows you “purchased” the coat with a stolen credit card?”
I muttered a quiet, “Yes.”
The teenager yelled out, “You’re so screwed, mom. They're never going to believe that story.” The boy added, “Please don’t make us go back to Sears with her, dad. I don’t want to be a criminal too!”
I don’t know why the security device was never removed from my new coat. I don’t have any idea how I was able to walk out of the store with it. But I did. And I was not at all happy when I put my coat on the next day and found the security device still attached. The teenager informed me I couldn’t wear the coat out in public like that. It would embarrass her. “What if someone SEES you?”
A few days later I was checking the credit card charges online and found two that I had not charged. The credit card company said my “information had been compromised” and they would have to cancel my card. “If anyone tries to use your card information, ma’am, the vendor will be notified that this card has been stolen.” Of course, this was the card I had used to purchase my coat.
I forced the entire family to accompany me back to the Sears store. They made me enter first. If the beeping machines went off when I walked through, they assured me they were going to run back to the car and leave me there to fend for myself.
There was no beep.
I walked up to the register. The family lurked many feet away in the women’s leisurewear section. They offered no support. I handed the cashier my coat and told her my problem. She asked for my receipt. As I handed it to her, I heard the boy blurt out, “This is it. She’s going down!”
The cashier punched a bunch of buttons on her register. She paused and said, “Hmmmm. There seems to be a problem.”
I paused and consciously forced myself not to pee my pants. I eked out a nervous smile and said, “Problem…?”
Time came to a standstill as I waited for her to explain.
Finally she said, “Oh, it’s just this register. It’s taking forever for things to go through today.”
And then she removed the security device and handed me back my coat. “I’m so sorry you had to make the trip back to have that device removed. I’m sure it was an inconvenience. So, I’ve given you a 10% credit that I put back on your credit card for you. You make sure to have a nice day now!”
As I walked out of the store, the family who was now willing to be seen with me, started talking. The boy asked, “So, you’re not a criminal any more mom?” The teenager said I was now allowed to wear my coat in public. And the husband bragged, “Wow! She even gave you money back! That’s great. I told you it would all work out just fine.”
Check This Out!
I recently watched the documentary Young@Heart. I laughed, I cried and I cheered as I watched the elderly ensemble prepare for a concert in which they sing covers of rock songs. It's well worth a look. And I dare you not to tear up during the prison scene. Check out the official trailer here.