I going to talk about the cute luggage I just got yesterday, and my mother’s insistence on my using something other than the heavy luggage I already had.
But an incident at a Dollar General Store changed that plan.
See, last night I was detained for possibly shoplifting at the store.
Yes, sweet Candy was a suspect. First. Time. Ever.
Well, I don’t count that incident in my pre-toddler years when my mother sat a bunch of bananas near me and I proceeded to eat them all by the time we got to the checkout lane, without her noticing somehow. (She paid for them.)
And I can’t count that time as a little girl when I picked up a pack of Juicy Fruit while we were at the grocery store. (When my mother realized what I did, she explained to me that it was stealing; we went back to the store and paid for it.)
So this is what happened:
I’d just been at a grocery store to purchase items for the mission trip. I had a pretty good list that included foods, sanitation stuff and whatnot. I went to Dollar General to finish my shopping.
My list was on my cell phone, and it was running out of juice, but I thought it would last until I finished shopping. In the middle of looking for things on the list, my phone flashed that I had a 10 percent charge left. Now anyone who has an iPhone knows that if you have 10 percent left, that phone is going to cut off soon. And it will take about five minutes of being plugged into a charger to get it to come back. I didn’t want that to happen. So I left my basket, which only had a bottle of sunscreen lotion in it, and went to my car to plug off my phone and copy my list into a notebook.
As soon as I got in my car, one of the store workers was at the window. She asked me if I could come back inside. Now, I live in a small city. And I work for the newspaper. Not to sound vain or anything, but a lot of people recognize me because I work at the paper. And it’s not unusual for someone to want to share a story idea with me. I was thinking that what this was. So I plugged up my phone, sat it in a drink holder and went back into the store.
The worker then asked me to go back to the office with her. I’m thinking, “Oh boy, this is going to be a story idea that’s sensitive in nature - like someone being done wrong by an official or something.” I went with her.
When we got into the office and she shut the door, she told me, “I’m sorry to have to do this, but another customer said that he saw you put something in your pocket. So could you please empty your pockets?”
OK, I was shocked. I looked at her for a second, to see if she was serious. She was.
I could’ve handled this in a number of ways, the most common way probably being going off and getting mad. Because I know I hadn’t stolen anything.
But I didn’t. I said, “Oh sure, no problem.” And I emptied my pockets, showing her that I only had money and my keys in them. I even flipped them inside out, showed her that there was nothing in my back pockets or in my jacket pockets.
All the while I kept a smile on my face, trying not to laugh. I mean, if I want or needed anything, I know dozens of people who would give it to me. So me shoplifting was hilarious to me.
She was already apologizing profusely by the time I got to my jacket pockets. “I am so sorry to bother you with this,” she kept saying over and over.
“Oh, that’s OK. You’re just doing your job,” I told her. “If someone told you that I stole something, you had to check it out.” She thanked me for being so understanding, adding that many people would be so mad about being stopped.
I know that I could have gotten indignant. But I chose not to, for several reasons:
1. It would not very Christian of me to behave that way. I mean, many people accused Jesus of a lot of stuff and treated him dirty, but he didn’t go postal on them when they did. He was understanding, asking God to “forgive them for they know not what they do.” Granted this situation was at a much lower scale than that, but still I need to try and follow Christ’s example, you know?
2. She was very polite to me and seemed to truly be sorry for having me to do it. That helped a lot. Had she been rude or something, I would not have cooperated so easily. Instead, I would have told her to call the police and then waited until they got there to empty my pockets.
3. What if I did go off? What would that have accomplished, besides throwing a longer wrench into what had been a pleasant evening? It likely would have put her on the defense, and thus extended my time in that awkward situation.
And then what if, later on, someone that heard my tirade found out that I was going on a CHURCH mission trip and that I was a dedicated CHURCH member. I think people use any excuse - like Chrisitans’ misbehavior - to not come to Christ. My going off would have been such a negative testimony.
I chose to be cooperative. The situation ended in a few minutes and I went back to my shopping - and got some pretty good deals, BTW.
You know what’s weird? While I was emptying my pockets, I was thanking God that I never had to work in retail or fast food, and thus never had to do something she had to do. I’m sure she’s been screamed at and cussed out in those situations.
I was also thanking God that my situation is not so dire that I would have to resort to shoplifting. I know times are tough, and there are folks that are struggling. It’s a blessing that I’m not in that situation. And it’s my job to help where I can - even if it’s just being pleasant to someone who has to do this nasty part of their job.
I also thought, “Now did I stick anything in my pocket by mistake?” I can be absent-minded at times. LOL
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” - Ephesians 4:32