I was involved in a little incident this past week. Each time I embark on a day trip to Atlanta, it seems as though trouble seeks me out, sort of like my nemesis, Mr. Double Chin, turns up uninvited in all of my photos.
A misunderstanding with the law occurred the last time I ventured across the Perimeter, an area inside I-285 that offers endless retail joy. That episode of miscommunication between the grumpy police officer and me resulted in a fine that still makes my pocket book visibly quiver and dysrythmic palpitations to my husband’s heart.
While the occurrence in which I was involved didnt entail intimidating law enforcement, it did include the closest thing to it.
Target Security Guards.
They are tougher than you think. Their logo – a red bulls eye – is not as friendly as the red shirt and jolly name tag would suggest. After my experience, I am fairly certain that the Target Security Team boasts military backgrounds with supplemental training on handling pricing guns with accuracy.
It was a two-story Target, complete with escalators, elevators and an attached parking garage. The enormity of the store was a little overwhelming, which led to a scattered approach in shopping that quickly wasted the remaining minutes available before my rushed return to carpool duties.
Hurrying through the checkout line with the pitiful two items purchased, I headed to the store cafe for a diet coke. As I filled my cup with much needed caffeine, I calculated the time it would take me to return home, worrying if I would make it in time to retrieve my three children from school.
I hastily turned to a side glass door that led to the parking garage. In my distractedness, I failed to notice the red lettering that identified the exit as one for emergencies. As I opened the door, screeching alarms and flashing lights momentarily stunned all shoppers and employees in the store. Every eye turned in my direction, the lone figure with one hand still on the door, the obvious source of all disorder and disruption.
Standing somewhat off-balanced in sassy wedge shoes, I confronted the swarm of security guards moving steadily in my direction. In an attempt to lighten the moment, and disarm the serious scowls from the faces of the Target Team, I said, “Should I get down on the ground?”
No one laughed.
“Please step away from the door,” said Target Security Guard #1, holding a walkie-talkie in one hand and the other precariously close to his pricing gun.
“We’ll need to see your shopping bag and receipt for proof of purchase,” continued Target Security Guard #2.
Somewhat shocked to find myself in a situation that labeled me as a potential criminal, I shakily handed over my purchases, all the while explaining how a normal, law abiding citizen might wander through a door clearly labeled for emergencies.
“Here’s the thing,” I began, watching the T-Team rummage through my plastic bag, “I’m in Atlanta to shop because there isn’t a Target where I live and I wasn’t paying attention when leaving because I was concerned that I would be late picking up my children and that would result in the headmaster giving me the evil eye while possibly causing my children to have to attend therapy for child abandonment issues so I walked through that door because I was in a huge hurry and not because I would ever steal anything or want to cause a public commotion because that is just plain embarrassing and who would purposefully do something like that?’’
The run-on sentence didn’t register with the guards because they were too busy smirking at one another over the contents of my bag, mercifully validated by the receipt found inside.
“You drove all the way to Atlanta for these two things?” asked Target Security Guard #1. He laid the offending items on the table beside him.
Baseball cards and one pack of Reese’s Cups.
“Really?” asked Target Security Guard #2.
I didn’t say anything in return as I had already used all available words in the previous exchange. As I stared at them blankly, Guard #1 told me I was free to go and to enjoy the rest of my afternoon.
I picked up my items and turned to leave, only taking a few steps towards the exit when I felt a meaty paw on my left shoulder.
“Ma’am, I don’t think that you want to go in that direction. Remember? That door is for emergencies only”.
A cackling from their walkie-talkies diverted their attention from my continued ignorance and summoned the guards to their next mission.
Twirling their pricing gun on two fingers with more confidence than store management should allow, the Target Security Guards smoothly reholstered their retail weapons and sauntered off towards the aisles in the wild blue yonder.