November 17, 2011

i spy

I have this hidden talent I don't really share with many. It's a little gem I keep to myself mostly. I don't mean to brag, but I can find retail store security officers anytime, anyplace. And, not the uniformed security because that's just too easy my friends. It's the, quote/unquote, undercover security officers I've got an eye for. I've mastered the skill so well that if one should pass by me in aisle per chance, I'm almost always 86.7 percent sure they are on the payroll. No, really. I am that good.

My mad skillz all started way back when I took on a little retail associates job when I was in college. We always had someone in the store, wearing street clothes, bobbing around the floor looking for shoplifters. We would have secret names, like Mrs. Jones, we could call over the P.A. system when we suspected culprits. It would always go a little something like this: "Mrs. Jones, please come to sportswear. Mrs. Jones to sportswear." About two minutes later you would see your undercover agent looming behind a rack of Koret pants and in return, you would pretend to put things away as you told "Mrs. Jones" about the possible thievery. For a 19 year old, I always felt pretty cool about calling the ole Jonester. Oh, and just to keep those hooligans on their toes, sometimes the security office would switch up the code name to things like "Miss Morgan" or "Mrs. Clark". Pure genius I tell you.

To make things even cooler, the store I worked at had an employee program for thieves and no-good-doers. Well, not for the thieves themselves but for the "star" employees that ratted them out when they did something wrong. Wrong meaning stealing or short-changing the store. Now, I don't mean to toot my own horn but I actually took part in that very reward program. Yup, I did.

You see, this is how it went down. I had been working just shy of about a year and I was moved into a new department. In all the shuffling of employees, they had also hired a few newbies. One of which started in in the department I was just assigned to. It was nice having a gal about my age to chat and work with so I was happy for the company. About two or three months into her employment, she started retagging clothes at cheaper prices before she bought them. Paired with her employee discount, she was getting clothes dirt cheap. She might have gotten away with it, but the big dummy told me what she was doing. And, not only did she tell me, but she also showed me her tricks. As she walked me through her new found skill, step by step, I played along and pretended she was the most brilliant person on the planet. We had a little giggle about it and she made me swear I wouldn't tell anybody.

The problem is, what she was doing didn't sit well with me. It gnawed at the pit of my stomach and I felt terrible. Truth is, she probably felt pretty terrible about it too otherwise she wouldn't have had fessed up to me.

What did I do about it? Well, during my next shift, I took one of the store managers aside and told them what she was doing. And, of course, they informed the store security. They put a sting operation into place and only kept me in the loop on a "need to know" basis. I was to keep my cool, not tell her what was up, and encourage her to go on with her plans as usual. And, she did without any encouragement from me I might add. She took her retagged items up to the office one afternoon to purchase them and they got her. I don't know how it all went down for sure, but I do know that was her last day as an employee, she got to ride in the backseat of an actual police car, and I was rewarded a percentage of the recovered money she was stealing plus a reward. I'll be the first to admit, the extra moola in my check that month was neat, but I always felt a little sad about the whole situation. She put me in a tight spot and I hated being the one to call her out.

Long story, short. After four years of working side by side with uncover agents (I like to call them), I have honed my ability and carry it around with me in my back pocket. Which brings me to today while I was shopping in Target.

As I was browsing the men's jeans, I noticed a younger guy out of the corner of my eye examining a plaid shirt a little too close and for a little too long. Not appreciating the price of said jeans, I turned my cart around and moved on to the dvds and books section of the store browsing for my copy of the new Harry Potter movie. Once again, I spied that same plaid shirt examining guy. This time he was pretending to read the back of The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants book and missing that most important shirt he couldn't stop looking at just two minutes before. Instantly, I knew I was under watch and for the life of me I had no idea why. This made my blood start to heat up. What was it about me that looked suspicious? I'm a thirty-something woman doing some Christmas shopping. I wasn't carrying a large backpack or wearing a big baggy jacket or ducking in between racks or shifting my eyes. All classic signs of a shoplifter I might add. No, I was going about my business and only talking to myself minimally when I couldn't remember what I was looking for. Was it that I kept taking my phone out of my pocket to check the time and keep tabs on my Facebook status? "Important things this mother has to keep track of, Mr. Store Security! Important!"

I grabbed Harry and shuffled off to the land of Petshops, Webkinz and Zhu Zhu pets to once again be greeted by my shopping partner without his plaid shirt or his copy of Sisterhood of Traveling Pants. It was too much. Once, twice, I could ignore. But three times?! Now I'm P to the O'd!! This idiot isn't very good at his job if he can't tell I'm just a mom enjoying some free time without children. And, yeah, so what if I talked to myself once or twice. This new found brain space I've recently acquired when I'm not being talked at by the younger set is brand new to me. It doesn't prove I'm crazy or up to no good.

So what I did do to lose this sucker? Well, I sighed a great, big, audible sigh. Threw my head back in disbelief. And, stared the son-of-a-nutcracker down. HARD!

He tried to dodge my line of site and avoided making eye contact once he realized he had been found out. Rookie! I kept staring, shifting my weight from one hip to the other. And, it's very possible I might have eked out a tsk as if I was oh so very ashamed of him.

This game of chicken wasn't one he wanted to take on, so he did a little quick step and high tailed it out of the toy section as fast as his legs would go. Victory was mine.

"This is one mother you don't want to mess with Target security. I've got your number!"


Katie said...

Good for you for keeping your co-worker honest. I would have done the same.

But I would have HAD to ask the undercover dude why on earth he was following me!

little irish said...

That was my next thought...asking what the heck he was doing. But he took off too fast when he realized I was on to him. I think it was my red face and that crazed look in my eye that said, "You lookin' at me?!?!"