Like most people, I have not gotten out much lately (and by lately, I mean the past 8-10 months). But my province has lifted restrictions slightly which meant a much appreciated grocery trip with a friend this past week…You would think that this would be an uneventful outing…but you’d be wrong.
The shopping trip itself was great, no crowds, everything was fully stocked (which hasn’t been the case most of the time around here) and we even found a fabulous sale rack where I snagged a baking dish set at a steal and my friend scored a lovely wooden baguette tray…Her husband thought this was useless of course, but she is determined that it will be perfect for displaying nuts, cheeses and a whole assortment of things if and when people are ever able to entertain guests again (and in her defense, it was only 5 bucks). We also picked up Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop White Cheddar Puffs and since these are not sold at the grocery store closest to me, I can’t tell you how excited I was to throw a bag in my cart…if you know, you know (and if you don’t, you should find out). But the real excitement occurred in the parking lot afterwards.
We were approached by a rather jovial man who broke the ice with a weird joke about turning around to unexpectedly find two girls, this was followed by asking for the change from our cart (the store requires a dollar deposit to unlock its shopping carts). More than happy to help, my friend told him that as long as he didn’t mind waiting for us to unload the groceries, the dollar was all his. He thanked us and told us he would stand back and be respectful of an appropriate pandemic distance…. this did not last long.
Not only did he begin to hover closer and closer to the cart, peeking inside to gauge what we had, he also began talking…a lot. Now, while conversation is great, his conversation topic of choice left much to be desired. As it turned out, he needed the change because he had hurt his arm. An injury he sustained from slipping on the ice…while running away from someone he stole 20 bucks from. It’s ok though, because the slip was actually a blessing in disguise since he was caught after he slipped and thus had to give the money back…a good thing, according to him, because he did not realize that he was on camera at the time and; “The cops don’t mess around with COVID” (I would like to think the police would take robbery seriously regardless of a pandemic, but what do I know?) and he could not afford to go back to jail…key word…back. Yes, he went on to elaborate that he has been arrested before for stealing money from a cash register or two. All the while maintaining his sunny disposition.
I was cautious to keep an eye on him once this information came to light, but it was my friend’s reaction that really confused him (and her confidence and fearlessness probably contributed to our safety). She was much happier about the conversation than I was, commenting on how she was so sorry to hear about his slip and hurting his arm and how that was a terrible thing to have happened to him. Cool as a cucumber the whole time, not phased in the slightest and all smiles.
English is not her first language and he was speaking pretty quickly. She admitted later that she didn’t understand most of what he was saying, but it made sense because she heard the individual words such as “camera” and falling on the ice…but completely missed how he had made a habit of robbing people. She just said “but he was so friendly… he wasn’t any kind of threat”… maybe, maybe not.
Another reason she was un-phased is because of previously living in an area with a heavy crime rate where theft is extremely common. She very plainly stated that, had he tried to take anything from us, she would have not hesitated to chase him with the baguette tray …. you see … not such a useless purchase as her husband would have thought after all!
Moral of the story… Always be kind and smile…it confuses the heck out of people (and it certainly doesn’t hurt to have friends who are able to handle any manner of uncomfortable situations with composure, grace and confidence).