Today, at my day-job as a professional bookslut (read: bookseller), I spent roughly two hours helping to tail a young gentleman who was, apparently, bound and determined to shoplift himself some clearance shrimp.
Yes, you read that right.
No, I am not making this up. (Dear god, how could I?)
And so begins The Epic Saga of the Would-Be Shoplifting of the Clearance Shrimp.
Once again, I remind you: You can’t make this shit up.
Nothing ever stays normal in my bookstore for long. Ever. At all.
I call it The Vortex, and for damn good reason — it’s like its very own alternate reality of WTF, and once you are sucked into it, you will never be free.
So, when my manager alerted me to a young man lurking suspiciously in my department (Educational Toys & Games, because I am a pixie bookslut, after all) and asked me to keep an eye on him, I really should have known.
But then again, no one expects the Shrimp-Shoplifting Fiasco, not even in my store.
Not yet thinking much of it, I approached the young man, who was indeed suspicious — staring at me shiftily as I did so — and asked him if he needed help; and, when he said no, pointedly hovered near him cheerfully rearranging toys.
He did not take the hint, and continued to poke at them (quite literally; at one point spending several minutes playing with a Simon game and producing a series of bleeps and bloops of which even RD-D2 would have been dubiously proud) until my coworker showed up to relieve me and send me on break.
I alerted her to his presence, and left her to keep an eye on him instead.
And, sure enough, when I came back half an hour later, there they still were, her straightening toys in my stead as he continued to poke at them.
He was clearly a persistant one, having poked at toys for well over half an hour by that point, and I was starting to get amused.
I swapped places with my coworker again; and, eventually, with aforementioned manager, who purportedly spent forty minutes staring at him after he moved up to the front of the store to poke at our e-readers instead.
Still he would not be dissuaded. Clearly, he wanted something, and he wanted it badly.
And, when I ended up tailing him in again, in my manager’s stead, following him back to my toy department and then back up to the e-readers and finally back to the toys again… I figured out just what that something was:
A grow-your-own shrimp kit, currently on clearance for half-off.
This is what the young man spent his afternoon quite stubbornly attempting to steal.
I had seen him with it opened around the time I first approached him, and, though he put it down shortly after, he eventually did go back for the thing, and proceeded to carry it with him up and down the store. And then set the shrimp beside him as he poked at the e-readers, despite my having offered to hold them at the cashiers’ for him.
And he clung to his coveted little box of shrimp, despite being blatantly stared at by myself, at least two of my coworkers, two of my managers, and our security guard, and watching us (still quite shiftily!) watch him.
And by this point, going on two hours of his pacing back and forth throughout the store in an attempt to lose us all as he quite literally poked aimlessly at anything shiny, it was more than obvious that he was not going to buy these coveted clearance shrimp to which he clung.
Here, too, I should make a few other things clear:
1. These shrimp were not terribly expensive, even at their full retail price. ($34.95, which, while arguably expensive for pet shrimp, is not the sort of high-ticket item you would expect someone to go to this kind of trouble to steal.)
2. This was not an attempt at impulse stealing — something that he just tried to take, because it was there, and the opporunity was there, and he figured why the hell not. No, he put considerable effort in his attempt to steal these shrimp, and these shrimp specifically.
3. Bloody clearance shrimp, dude.
There is no even pretending to make any sort of sense out of this one, I’m sorry to say.
Eventually, his shrimp-stealing aspirations were thwarted, however. Finally the second of my managers grew bored with staring at a boy clinging to a box of clearance shrimp while poking aimlessly at an e-reader, and simply took the shrimp away from him under the pretext of offering to put them away if he didn’t want to purchase them after all.
And so finally he apparently wandered away, shrimp-less and alone.
But wait! There’s more!
(My life may as well be an infomercial; there is always more.)
Once he was gone and I filled another coworker in on the whole fiasco, she saw my shrimp-stealing story and raised me a story from the other day!
When a much older gentleman, presumably in his fifties or so, with very frizzy hair, actually succeeded in shoplifting from us!
And what did this older man with frizzy hair steal from the bookstore, in lieu of clearance shrimp?
Hello Kitty headphones.
WELCOME TO ‘HOW NOT TO HAVE STREET CRED 101’, INTERNET:
STEAL (OR ATTEMPT TO) A BOX OF CLEARANCE SHRIMP AND/OR HELLO KITTY HEADPHONES FROM YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE.
The more you know.