I’m a shoplifter

HL and I were down town shopping yesterday and we walked past an upmarket homewares store. HL nudged me and said, “Try not to steal anything this time, huh?” I blushed, having completely forgotten my shameful connection with this store.

About a year ago HL and I were window-shopping amongst the ridiculously over-priced, but drool-worthy, stock in this Upmarket Homewares Store (UHS) when my cheap side won out and I wandered over to the ‘CLEARANCE’ section to check out some (Embarrassing Confession: I adore Christmas and all the paraphernalia that goes along with) marked-down Christmas ornaments.

I hummed and hahed for about 15 minutes, but ultimately decided not to add to my already overwhelming collection of what I like to call ‘Christmas Crap’ (and HL enthusiastically agrees with this name) and we left the UHS to go in search of a gift for my dad. The lady at the counter gave me a searching glance as we walked out and I thought she was a bit rude, but, whatever, this was a snooty store.

We were actually on the look-out for a cocktail shaker for my dad and they were proving incredibly difficult to locate in our small city, so, when I thought of a Gifts and Engraving store on the other side of the CBD we decided to walk all the way there on the off chance that they might have one.

On arrival, the G&E store was terribly crowded, so we sidled in and, using our ‘shopper-on-a-mission’, highly-focused eyeballs, tracked down a small selection of cocktail shakers. We started to examine our options and, wanting to pick them up and see how they felt and how much they cost, etc., I set down my over-the-shoulder wallet on the shelf so I didn’t have to worry about knocking something over with the wallet if I turned around suddenly (yep, I’m awfully clumsy, and I was just trying to preclude a disaster).

For just a moment I experienced a strange disconnection and surreality as I noticed that this store was selling the EXACT SAME CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT I’d been examining at the UHS. And it didn’t seem like the kind of thing that would be likely to be found here. Weird, huh? Waaiiittt a minute (it was literally that slow – like in a cartoon)… I think, no, I KNOW, I brought this with me, attached to my purse.

Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap… I’m a thief, a shoplifter, a criminal…What if the lady has sent the police after me, and, right this second, they could be closing in on me? (yeah, over-reaction, I know) I have to return it, but, what if, when I try to return it, the lady just thinks I stole it, but had an attack of conscience? Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap…

I turned around, and with a grimace, showed HL. He laughed, loud and hard, and said he’d walk back with me to return it. Which he did. Laughing at me. The whole way. Joking that his wife was a thief.

I got quite nervous when we got close to the UHS, wondering if the lady would detain me until the police arrived and took me in for questioning (too much tv in my life, not enough actual criminal behaviour). HL said he would return it and explain that his wife had accidentally taken it, but I thought that that might sound a bit like he was covering-up for his klepto wife, so I went in by myself.

As I walked up to the counter the lady had her mouth pursed very tightly and was glaring down her nose in my direction so my words didn’t really come out right. “Umm…I was in earlier…and I was looking at things on the clearance rack (gestured in approximate direction)…and I think…when I turned around…this thing (gestured at offending ornament)…seems to have gotten caught on my…ummm…purse-strappy thing here…see? I’m so sorry…It was an accident.” I stammered, and ended with a weak grin.

I was hugely relieved to watch a smile grow on the lady’s face as she took ‘the item’ and giggled understandingly. Even though I was still embarrassed, I almost skipped out with the feeling of a burden having been lifted. It didn’t even matter that HL was almost doubled over with laughing at me.

I haven’t gone back in since, though.

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2 Comments

  1. Rodney Olsen said,

    July 16, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    I once stole a pen at the airport in San Francisco. I was very tired after the long flights from Australia and I wandered in to a store to grab some postcards. I thought I would need something to write with on them so I grabbed a pen as well.

    I went to the counter and bought the cards, completely forgetting that I had the pen I my hand. By the time I realised it was too late, I was already on the next plane. 🙂

  2. notperfection said,

    July 16, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    At least you can blame yours on jet-lag *grin*

    Maybe that’s why things are so terribly expensive at airports…they need to cover all the jet-lagged-based accidental swiping that goes on.


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