Sahara’s Object Lesson

This Friday, I will be a “Security” guy for a concert that is taking place at my church.  Security is likely to be unnecessary at this event, but was decided upon on the basis that this is an “outreach” event, where members outside of the church are going to attend.  Chances are, everything is going to go smoothly.

So, I’m a security guy. I used to bounce at a bar, and I’m big and moderately scary.

In the pursuit of doing a good job, I decided that looking a little menacing wouldn’t hurt, and besides which is fun for me. In order to complete the Security Guy look, it was decided to shave my head to skin, and get a black shirt with the word “Security” ironed onto it. Originally the thought was to put “bouncer”, but considering the connotations of bouncer and its lack of propriety in a church, we went with “security”.

Problem: I had no black shirts, and no iron on letters.

Solution: Go to wal-mart and purchase said items.

So, last night my wife and I went to wal-mart. In addition to these items, my wife needed “a couple of salad items”. Once we got there, my wife discovered that apples were at a good price, and I abandoned any pretext that this was a “quick” trip where we are getting “only a few items” and settled in for the full-on shopping trip. I score 6 bags of dry pinto beans at 68 cents each, and a good price on six boxes of mini-wheats.  I also got a new belt.

$134 worth of stuff later, we are in the check-out line. I notice that there is a line with a large family (making the line look longer, but really not, since they were almost done). I pulled into that line.

My wife saw peanut butter cups, and mentioned her desire to have some. I picked up a package. My wife read the calorie content. She had me put it back down again.

During that interaction, a girl of about age seven from the family ahead of us looked on, and I saw the spark of desire for candy in her face.

She wandered over to the candy display, presumably to browse. Then she did a leaning move, which made me ask the question: “Is she doing what I think she’s doing?” And I begin to watch her.

She turns away from the display, and I see the tail end of a candy package disappearing into her pocket.

I say to her, “Are you going to put that back?”

She looks at me with the “I got caught” face, but she doesn’t make a move to put it back.

I add, “You didn’t think you were going to get caught, did you?”

At this point, she reaches into her pocket, and looks like she is about to do the right thing.

Then her mother calls, “Sahara, come over here!”

This is an understandable reaction. I am a big, moderately scary, stranger talking to someone’s child who I do not know. The mother is cautious.

But Sahara had not put the candy back. I am in the process of unloading the shopping cart. The mother and daughter turn to leave, and I am trying to come up with my next move quickly.

I blurt out (loudly), “Ma’am, are you aware that your daughter is shop-lifting?”

The people in the area heard me loudly and clearly.

The mother asks Sahara what she has. The candy is produced, and returned.

However, the mother admonishes me for talking so loudly, and (according to my wife, I did not hear this clearly) stated that she had been watching her kid the whole time.

Which I understand. Mom is embarrassed. My voice carries pretty well.

It is my guess that later last evening, Sahara was having a hard time sitting down. Dunno how much was from attempted shop-lifting, and how much was from the mother’s embarrassment.

Ultimately, it would not have mattered if she had made it away with a candy bar. Candy bars walk out of wal-mart all of the time. Hopefully, Sahara learned the lesson of “shop-lifting is bad” instead of “fat white strangers are bad”.


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