Conspicuous Honesty

On an evening in recent memory, and on other evenings in not so recent memory, I would have killed someone for a Diet Coke. However, since I am not too fond of crushing quarry rocks with a sledgehammer or other sundry rock-smashing implement (scroll down to the bottom of this for ease of reference), I put murder on the back burner and ducked into one of the city’s many Duane Reades to buy one of the fun 1.5 liter bottles that for some reason amuse me. I like that they cost only $.89 with my “club card” (yes! I belong to a club! even though I am not a joiner!). I do not like, however, that with tax it comes to $1.01, because I usually don’t carry change with me, preferring to put it all in some sort of container so I can eventually take it to Penny Arcade at Commerce Bank. (That is a story for another day, kiddles.) On the occasion that is the subject of this already long-winded story, however, I did have the correct change, so I was able to do this without event.
The Duane Reade I chose apparently was not anticipating my visit, because it did not have cans of cold soda. I decided to go to my usual store, a “bodega” a hop, skip, and perfect pirouette away. But because I had told the cashier at Duane Reade that I did not need a bag and I did not take my receipt, I just knew that if I walked into the little store with my new amusing-sized bottle in hand, I would have to announce immediately upon entering, “Hello, friends! Please note that I am bringing a bottle into the store that was purchased elsewhere! Also, I plan to gulp this entire funny bottle of soda pop while standing in front of my refrigerator in a half-asleep stupor at 2:30 a.m. LOL!” I knew that if I jammed the bottle in my purse before entering the bodega, when I reached for my wallet to pay for the cold can, the cashier would see the bottle there, assume I stole it moments ago, and, when I protested that no no no, I bought this at Duane Reade!, would demand the receipt, which I would be unable to produce. So rather than risk certain embarrassment and possible jail time, I jammed it into my purse, but removed my wallet first so I wouldn’t have to reach in and thus the bottle and I could remain safe.
For some reason, I feel it is my duty to conspicuously dissuade shop personnel from thinking I intend to shoplift. Indeed, I am so hellbent on letting them know I am a good girl that I don’t want them even thinking I am thinking about it. So, I make sure that if I need to unzip/unclasp/untie/regurgitate my purse while in the store, I step into the center of the store, under a bright light, in plain view of as many surveillance cameras as possible and the watchful eye of security, to do so. If I am holding an item being considered for purchase, I make sure to keep it at least 18 inches from my purse, the better to inform everyone that I do not intend to cram it inside. So what if I’m only reaching for a Tic Tac? I make sure to open my mouth very wide and toss it in, sometimes cheering as if I just won a game of skeeball at the county fair, so anyone suspicious of my intent sees that I am merely enjoying a little burst of flavor and not stuffing a black jersey wrap dress down my throat.
A while ago, I went into M&J Trimming to buy a single tiny rhinestone (for a purpose you will just have to imagine on your own). I did not need anything else (see, I needed the rhinestone, cowboy), even though I was tempted to create a need because M&J Trimming is chockful of all manner of fabulous frivolity. The rhinestone was, I think, five cents (was I ripped off?), and when the salesperson handed it to me in a tiny zip-loc-type bag, I thought, “What’s to stop me from just dumping (as much as you can dump something that weighs as much as a hummingbird’s eyelash) the rhinestone out of the bag and putting it in the little pocket on my jeans’ hipbone?” After all, isn’t that what that pocket is made for, anyway? Not only did I not do that, but I held the tiny bag in the palm of my hand, hand open, palm up, for the duration of my browsing in the store, as if providing a little platform for Tinkerbell to enjoy the ride, just to show everyone at M&J Trimming that I am an honest person.
I am not really being honest here, though. See, it is not really a matter of morality or ethics or values that dissuades me from shoplifting. It’s just that I am not too keen on being on the receiving end of a ruddy-faced warden’s ham-fisted wrath. If I knew there was absolutely no chance of being caught, I would be secreting rhinestones left and right, here and there (and especially there), knowing I wouldn’t be subjected to a cavity search under her watch.
I would, however, look smashing in the halter dress depicted on that poster, which I know for a fact can be found at Banana Republic on a rack in the corner …