Ah, these kids today. I thought to myself as I watched a teen aged boy bolt for the nearest turbo lift, the entire marketplace security force hot on his tail. A moment later he was eating floor as one of the guards landed a strong tackle around the youth’s legs, bringing him down quite forcibly. He hadn’t quite thought it through. Even if he were to have made it to the lift, there was no guarantee it would be ready and waiting, and in those type of pursuits, every millisecond counted. It was far too spontaneous, too reactive, too risky. There were much better ways to accomplish such a goal.
Ordinarily, I’m quite the upstanding citizen. I would never act on any of the dark thoughts that all of us have at times if we are honest with ourselves. The problem was this particular store on the esplanade. They were in a state of liquidation, closing their doors for good. There were signs plastered everywhere stating as much. While standing in the extensive checkout lines earlier that day I read all the signage that talked about final sale only, no refunds, no exchanges, state of liquidation, no coupons honoured, etc, etc. It was quite obvious that if you bought something, it wasn’t coming back.
Then I had to listen to the checkout clerk reiterate everything I had just read in a lengthy speech, with confirmation at the end that I understood. She then instructed me to check with the security personnel on my way out, as they had to check my bag and mark my receipt. I just grunted and moved along.
Receipt in hand, I read the back of it. Once again it detailed everything about liquidation and the no exchange/refund policies. I was starting to wonder what type of morons shopped here that it had to be repeated so many times, then I realized I shopped here.
I turned the corner to exit and ran straight into a massive egress line, waiting for the single security to take their receipt in hand, mark it with a highlighter, then repeat this process for the next in line. What a bunch of crap. How was that a helpful process in any way? They weren’t even looking at the receipts, or checking the contents of the bags against what the receipt said. They were literally just highlighting the receipt. Screw that.
I pushed my way through the line, bypassing security and exiting the store. “Sir!” I heard a guard say. I ignored it and kept walking. “Excuse me, sir! You need to have your receipt marked!” A guard caught up to my casual walk and placed his hand on my shoulder. I turned to him, a sour look on my face, and said “What?”
“Sir, we need to mark your receipt so other stores know it’s liquidation.”
I lost it. “Really? You don’t think the signage everywhere, or the fact that it’s written all over your receipt is enough? Now you have to further waste my day by stopping me publicly, embarrassing me in front of this crowd, all so you can run your highlighter across this piece of paper because somehow that magically informs the universe greater than everything else I just mentioned? Get out of my way, son.”
“Sir, I’m just doing my job. If you don’t like the policy, please speak to the manager.”
“It’s a stupid policy. Take my damn receipt.”
He did, marked it with a highlighter, then handed it back to me. He didn’t even check my bags. I was fuming and decided that I would indeed speak to the manager.
I found the soft, doughy man a few minutes later and tore into him with all of the above. He didn’t care. He had mentally checked out long ago, knowing he wouldn’t have a job once this store shut down. I was wasting my time.
“You need better processes.” I said as I turn and left, like somehow that was a meaningful, impactful statement that would shine truth and understanding to this dimwitted man. Sigh.
That was all earlier in the day and there I was back at that same store watching this youth get arrested for his attempted thievery. I saw the same doughy manager, quite content with his security staff, smiling with glee at the incident and decided then and there that just this once I would indulge my more devious side.
I studied security’s reactions to different events. There was no individual thought, no overall strategy to their training. They reacted as one to everything. They saw it as a strength when it was clearly a weakness.
I ended up waiting for about an hour before I saw a young group of hoodlums, their intentions at some free Christmas shopping clear on their faces. Don’t ask me to explain how I knew, I just did. It was something you came to recognize when exposed to it often enough.
I motioned one of them over to me. Casually I offered him 500 ISK to go into that store with his friends, make it obvious they were shoplifting, then bolt in different directions as fast as they could. He walked back to his gang and discussed before returning and accepting my offer. I handed him the ISK up front as a good will gesture.
How did I know I could trust them? For starters, 500 ISK was a decent amount of money for these young men. Secondly, if they didn’t do what I asked, I could just as easily inform security of their intention to steal and completely ruin their day of shopping, though to be fair that was weak as they already had my 500 ISK. They could do a bit of shopping with that. Damn. My brain was definitely not on top of its game that day.
Fortunately, they stuck to their word and begin sticking things in their pockets. It didn’t take long for the security force to notice and try to subtly maneuver themselves into position for the kill.
To their credit, these kids obviously knew their trade and the process of this security team. Moments before the predator was to strike, they bolted. Quickly, the guards picked one target and as a group pursued him.
I took a breath, then walked into the store.
The key to life is confidence. It doesn’t really matter what you’re trying to accomplish. If you walk around with an air of confidence, a stature that says “I belong here, I own this, you’re an idiot if you question that” then you can accomplish almost anything.
That being said, I picked up that top of the line holo projector I had been eyeing a few weeks before, you know, the one that was nearly 3 million ISK, and walked out with it in my hands, my gait confident, my breathing casual.
Not a single person questioned it.
I had walked nearly halfway the distance between the shops and my personal quarters when the guilt of morality finally caught up with me. I couldn’t do it. I simply couldn’t steal, no matter how much of a putz the manager was, no matter how great a lesson learned this would’ve been.
I took a deep breath, turned around, and walked back to the shop.
When I arrived, it was business as usual. Not a single soul had noticed a thing. I walked into the store and found the manager. I handed him the holo-unit. “Here’s your holo-unit. I walked out of your store with it about an hour ago. You need better processes.” It still sounded weak, but I was trying to be witty.
His face turned red with anger, embarrassment, I’m not sure which. “Arrest this man!” I’m sorry, what? I thought to myself. How was he going to arrest me? I was still in his store. There was no proof I had left with any unpaid merchandise.
“Look,” I began, really tired of this crap. “I’m just saying your system sucks and you need to wake up and pay attention. You can’t arrest for me anything as I have no stolen property on me. Let it go. Get over it.”
He turned even more red. A guard put his hand on my shoulder. I’d had enough.
I turned to the guard and spoke. “Face or balls?” I asked him.
“What?” he replied, momentarily distracted. Now you have to admit, I did give him a choice and he didn’t choose. What happened next was only fair in my books.
I kicked him in his junk as hard as I could, and as he doubled over in pain and surprise, I drove a right handed haymaker across his face dropping him ungracefully to the ground.
I glared at the store manager. “Let it go.” I repeated. This time there was no more red in his face, only white. He nodded profusely and I took my leave of the situation.
This is why I don’t do nice things for people. They’re always ungrateful.