Hello, and thank you for dropping by. As you may know, the first 22 posts of this blog are the text of my ebook, 'How To Become A Crack Addict' (Jan to April 2013). Since then, it's been the varied ramblings of yours truly, Benjamin of Turnham Green. So let's go for today's ramble...
SHOPLIFTERS OF THE WORLD
I was sitting behind the till of the charity shop I work in, when two older ladies came in, and began having a good old forage about. Trudy, a volunteer who's worked there a while, with a firebrand temperament, and heart very much in the right place, suddenly said to one of the others, 'Lock the door...'
The demonic duo had been up to no good in the boots and jewellery, one covering the other, whilst the other slipped things into her waiting, gaping ASDA bag. 'I know what you've done,' said Trudy, seeming fearless, and perhaps familiar with the scenario. 'The police have been called, and the door's locked 'til they get here.' One of the ladies, in a voice that rang familiar, said, 'We haven't done anything.' Trudy thought otherwise, though. 'The charity shops down this road are linked up. We've been told you two are doing the rounds.' The other lady said, 'Please, let us out, we haven't got anything.' But then the other one tipped out a pair of boots and some glittering things from her bag, declaring, 'Look, we haven't got anything now, have we? Please lady, let us out.'
Trudy then decided to let them go, telling them never to come back in the shop again. As she unlocked the door, the police, who must have been very close by, arrived, and wanted to know what was going on. Trudy pointed at the ex-contents of the bag, scattered on the floor - but now, because our ladies had no more stolen goods on them, the police could do nothing, and seemed more interested in appeasing Trudy's animated state, which, to my mind, seemed pretty understandable.
There was another customer in at the time, standing by the till, looking on in mild disquiet, who said, 'How low can you get, stealing from a charity shop?' I echoed her sentiment, apologising as if the incident were my own doing...I felt vacant and shaken...and this was perhaps because I half-recognised one of the women in question. I couldn't be sure, but I think she was the very first person who actually, for reasons best known to herself, introduced me to the dubious delights of crack. Because of my limited sight, I could only tell that the general shape was the same, and the hair looked about right, but the voice was distinct, like sandpaper being dragged along a blackboard, almost like having a filling, just to listen to. I don't know if she'd noticed me, and, after all, I could be wrong. But it was a strange and surreal incident, and made me feel like I was in some kind of vortex.
Half an hour later, when things were back to normal, and Ray Charles was crooning quietly from a speaker above the counter, and half a dozen non-thieves were milling about peaceably, the other shoplifter-lady came back, mouthing off, making threats, flailing around, as if happy to hit whoever happened to be within reach. I thought maybe it was time to man up, but Trudy, terrier-like, verbally discharged her in no uncertain terms, asking her not to come back into the shop, ever. The woman said, 'I'll get you,' or something, and shuffled off into the midst of seething shoppers.
They say criminals always return to the scene of a crime, but that seemed a little premature by anyone's standards. And I wish I could be sure if it was her, who, so many years ago, offered me a drug that put pay to the next ten-plus years of my life - but I've a pretty good eye for a voice. I didn't mention anything - even though Trudy and the others know that aspect of my past, I don't think it would've made any difference to anyone, anyway.
So there you go, I guess shoplifters think charity shops are fair game, less secure, laxly monitored, but it's a pretty cheap trick, all the same. And if it was her, well, seems not much has changed in her life - but then, as that well-known Renaissance lady said, you never really know another person, until you suddenly don't know them anymore.
Thanks for dropping by. Oh yeah, and here's a link to one of my tunes on youtube, if you feel inclined: Revenge Of The Sirens...