Over the past eight years, I’ve taken hundreds of work trips to dozens of different cities. Without fail, my first priority in a new city is to locate the nearest Target. In part because I’m prone to forgetting basic necessities: toothpaste, underwear, clothes. But also in part because bouncing around the country like that, you start to feel a little lost, figuratively and literally; it took 20 minutes after waking up this morning to remember where I was. Maybe it’s because I worked at Target for four years in high school, or maybe because browsing the greeting card section reminds me of my sister, who single-handedly keeps those companies in business, but for some reason, meandering around Target feels familiar, gives me a weird sense of home.
So I’m walking down an aisle in Tucson, Arizona when I come across two dudes acting kinda sketchy. As a general rule, I try to avoid sketchiness, but when I saw one dude put a DVD down his pants, I felt a little uncomfortable. As in, crap, I totally just saw that. I really wish I hadn’t. Do I have to say something?
I didn’t. But only because they disappeared during my internal dialogue. And then I saw them two aisles over, putting a huge yellow bottle of French’s mustard in their pocket. At that point I just got annoyed. First of all, mustard and a DVD? That’s just weird, not to mention two things everyone can do without. Second of all, QUIT STEALING FROM MY HOME!
I word vomited.
“Dude, it’s just so obvious. I mean, if I see what you’re doing and I’m actively trying not to, someone who actually cares has definitely noticed.”
They mumbled something about being sorry and that I was right and pointed to the huge bottle of mustard they had placed back on the shelf next to the kitty litter.
“I know, I have to pay for my shit too, it sucks. But that’s kind of how it works.”
They mumbled more and shuffled off. My mind instantly exploded into hypotheticals.
Ah crap. Why did I have to open my mouth? Why couldn’t I have just let it go? They are probably waiting for me outside. They’re probably going to beat the crap out of me. Yep. They are definitely hiding out…waiting. Ugh. What’s wrong with me?
“Can I help you find something?”
I blinked at the banana bunches I had been staring at. “I just need one.”
“Banana. I just need one. Annnd, actually…could someone maybe walk me to my car? I don’t want to get beat up.”
“Oh, I just called two dudes out for shoplifting and I’ve convinced myself they are going to jump me as soon as I walk outside.”
They walkie-talkied Bethany, the security guard no older or bigger than me, I paid for my banana, and she escorted me to my car. And let me tell you, I didn’t question that decision. Who knows what sets people off these days.
Did I just tattle on two grown men? Does this make me an adult now? Why did I say something?
Because that’s what I do. I have no filter, no check in my brain that flashes the consequences of my behavior (that comes after I’ve already acted/spoken, and most potential consequences just run around in circles in my imagination). And when I see something, I say something.
I guess ad campaigns really do work.