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Throw Me The Idol, I’ll Throw You The Whip

Monday, 15 March 2010

Raiders Of The Lost Ark. One of those films that has been permanently etched on my psyche due to excessive levels of repeated viewing in my youth. I will always think of it with great fondness as one of those taped-off-the-telly videos I had with the adverts paused and the wee tab snapped off so I couldn’t accidentally tape over it. I’m fairly confident that every frame is inscribed indelibly in the jumble of neurons in my brain. This probably explains why Alfred Molina’s ultimatum to Indy in the opening sequence ended up repeating itself in an endless loop during a run-in I had with a shoplifter yesterday.

It was around lunchtime, I was going about my business in retail land on a relatively quiet day, the usual throngs of shoppers more than likely spending some time with their mums. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a shifty pair of eyes at the other end of the shop. My spider-sense tingled.

When it comes to spotting somebody up to no good there is no substitute for years of experience and good instincts. I can’t explain exactly what it was about the way this particular person was behaving or looking but it triggered the gut feeling that he was up to something. Closer inspection revealed he had a Farmfoods shopping bag literally stuffed with contraband and was intent on leaving without paying for it.

He left the shop with me hot on his heels and, I suspect, oblivious to my presence. He set off the security alarms as he left and as I began to ask him to return to the store he decided to make a break for it. I grabbed his arm as he ran and he dragged me several feet until we were standing more or less in the neighbouring store. He stopped and turned to me and I braced myself for the possibility the whole thing was about to degenerate into a brawl.

“Let me go and I’ll drop the bag” he said. I’m pretty sure I blinked with surprise. “Drop the bag” I said, “and I’ll let you go.” He didn’t seem to get the idea. “No let me go first, then I’ll drop the bag.” We went back and forth on this line of debate for what felt like ages but couldn’t have been more than 10 seconds. It took him a while but I think eventually the idea dawned on him that if he held onto the bag and I held onto him, I technically had the bag of stuff anyway. He slowly lowered the bag to the floor and true to my word I let him go. Somehow the thought of a brawl on the floor of the jewellers didn’t really appeal to me. Throw me the idol, I’ll throw you the whip. That phrase was circling round my brain for the duration of the confrontation and the rest of the day, which I spent pacing like a caged animal, amped up on adrenaline that I never had the chance to release.

There’s something about shoplifting that really gets my goat. As far as crimes go it’s probably, objectively, at the lower end of the scale (although in this instance the criminal in question had about £200 worth of stock in his bag) and yet it inspires a disproportionate level of rage in me. I can only put this down to taking it personally. If you ask the British Retail Consortium they will tell you that last year shoplifting cost British businesses £1.1 BILLION. They say businesses but the brunt of that cost is borne by the British consumer in higher prices, etc. That’s a ridiculous amount of money that could be put to much better use somewhere else in the economy.

Personally, I hate people who think that they have the right to take what they want and not actually work for a living to earn money and things. I take great pride in the fact I have put in years of hard graft to achieve the lifestyle I live and have the things I have. I hate (and I don’t use the word lightly) people who feel the world owes them a living. However, like all human failings, it has been around forever and will continue to be around forever to come. Some people, and this is a fact I accepted long ago, are just wankers. It’s all part of life’s great tapestry I suppose.

On balance the whole debacle did nothing to dampen my post-holiday good mood, in fact it had quite the opposite effect. It’s always nice to thwart somebody on the rob and the recovery of so much stock in one go is enough to keep me smiling for a couple of days.

Cost of a Farmfoods bag full of boxsets – £200. The look on the faces of the jeweller’s staff and their customer while the drama unfurled before them – priceless.

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