So there I was, walking into a Giant grocery store and looking as innocent as I can without having kids with me. Mind you, that includes a long greatcoat in dark gray wool and a fedora hat, black, plus my jeans, but still – you know, looking slightly lost and checking my list while I pushed my cart. Innocent. The kind of guy who puts the kids to bed and sleeps the sleep of the just. At least, I think so.
As I took a few more steps into the store, I heard the loudspeakers crackle to life: “Security, aisle 6.” As I kept moving, it said, “Security, please scan all cameras in aisles 4, 5, and 6.” I looked up to see where that was in relation to me, not being too familiar with the store, and I realized I was right next to those aisles.
While I do not, as a rule, watch television, I don’t live in a bubble either, and I have a healthy enough sense of paranoia that I was perfectly happy to turn the heck around and not get involved or even be standing too close to something unpleasant. We live on the outskirts of the nation’s capitol, and sometimes “cleanup on aisle 9″ is code for “kill all the witnesses and invoke the Patriot Act if anyone asks.” (Also, I just this morning finished a book called Never Say Spy that features the protagonist getting the tar beaten out of her after being jumped in public places, and there might be some lingering paranoia there. Good book.) So, I removed myself from the area of aisles 4, 5, and 6, and went over to the produce section.
“Security, please scan all cameras in Produce.”
I looked around. I was, for reasonable definitions of the word, alone. It was me.
I turned around several times, looking up for cameras, and waved as cheerfully as I could. “Hi! Guy in a black hat here! I come in peace!” No one said anything, no one approached me, nothing. Also, the lady with the loudspeaker seemed mollified, because she shut up too. I can only assume I looked like her ex-husband, or her CIA handler. A few minutes later I was looking for spices, and overheard two of the employees talking about it:
“She’s got to quit that!”
“I know, she said ‘Produce’ and I turned around and there was, like, only one person there!”
I couldn’t resist. “I know,” I said, “it was me. I looked around getting ready to duck or something and I realized I was the only one around. Whatever it was, I didn’t do it, I swear!” They cracked up, proving that they were really Giant employees or that they were under deep cover and very, very good at it.
I walked out later, thinking next time I’m yelling, “In UR Produce, Steelin UR Beets!” There’s a huge aftermarket trade for beets, yo. Beets, bitches!