Nothing much happened for a couple of weeks then I became the worlds’ worst shoplifter

What the title says. I’ve not blogged for a while. Partly because I am trying to finish a couple of short stories (I am 40% of the way through this) and partly because I am also working on a bigger project (which is most definitely progressing at less than a snails’ pace). I am hoping that this effort propels me to the next stage of writing, which will be to finish the first short story. Fingers crossed eh?

The good news is that I am not writing this from prison and nor do I need to make the one phone call I am entitled to.

I am sure that a lot of us have engaged in the odd “misdemeanour” during our lives. Particularly as kids. I clearly recall that in the mid ’80’s I regularly took my bulging bag of pick and mix penny sweets to the counter of the local corner shop and announced that there was only thirty pence worth of sugary goods therein. The shopkeeper always used to give me a sideways glance that could only mean something along the lines of ‘Yes, 30p’s worth if each sweet was the size of a tennis ball”.

But I think he got us. We weren’t really trying to rob him. Not maliciously anyway. If he’d wanted to count them out, he could have done and half of them would have had to go back. I often think that if he’d been Caucasian rather than Asian, we would have been barred from the shop. It was a game and my guess is that he probably still made a small profit. We weren’t trying to rip the backside out of it, we were just being kids I suppose. I often used to feel a bit guilty about it (between leaving the store and stuffing my face at least) and rapidly decided that a life of crime was something I wouldn’t be cut out for.

Many crime free years (and only one arrest) later, my rap sheet remains clean as a whistle. But perhaps I should have ordered my new batteries online…..

You see, I own one of these tablet PC things. This comes with a battery powered stylus and it takes AAAA batteries (the really small ones that annoy you if you think they are AAA batteries and went and bought the wrong pack last week). I decided that some spare batteries would be a good thing to have because I use the tablet quite often for work purposes.

You can’t get these in PC World. Nor in the Office Depot store. So these two stores both advise that you go to Maplins. Maplins is a pretty cool grown up gadet shop that sell useful gizmos. They’re well known in England at least.

So, there I am, wandering around Maplins and I stumble accross the AAAA batteries. I gladly pluck a pack of four from the shelf and continue meandering around the store, wondering if I should make a completely unnecessary (but possibly fun) purchase of some sort.

I have a tendency to walk around with my hands in my jeans pockets so you can probably guess what happened next…..there is no need to re-live the moment.

Upon realising my indiscretion, I immediately took the batteries out of my pocket and made a conscious effort not to look like a hardened criminal. Almost immediately, a door appeared from nowhere and a friendly faced chap appeared, asking if he could help me with anything.

Having worked in the security industry (including operating CCTV as well as being a store detective) I instantly know this is shop speak that translates to “We saw you trying to steal stuff, either put it back or pay for it unless you want to get nicked, ok chuckles?”

Now feeling somewhat uncomfortable; What if I have subconsciously slipped the entire contents of the rest of the store into my other pocket? being one of the many ridiculous thoughts racing through my head, I must have looked as guilty as they come.

On the outside, I remained calm. Afterall, I wasn’t stealing anything and they can’t arrest me unless I leave the shop. Perhaps I’ll just move in and never leave? I decided against this rather drastic course of action and instead deployed a somewhat flimsy psychological deflection tactic. I engaged the enemy head on and asked about computer stylus pens which the chappie was happy to show me to. He had also, behind my back, given the nod to the people on the till. I clearly wasn’t fooling this guy that easily!

After some small (cleverly but not quite cleverly enough to fool me) made up delay (almost certainly whilst they rewound and double checked the CCTV) at the counter, I was allowed to proceed with my purchase. Apparently I hadn’t surreptitiously attempted to blag the rest of the contents of the store afterall.

I hope most of you will be pleased to know that I still have a clean record and although there is only a tenuous moral to this story (I am not exactly sure what that might be), I really do hope I didn’t put that little corner shop out of business.

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