There’s really not much else to say. I couldn’t leave it unshared.
We needed to pay a visit to Walmart this evening, but we’d already done plenty of shopping, so my wife went in while I stayed with the kids in the car. Like many other men, I decided to circle the Walmart parking lot. You know, drive circles around the building, dodge other cars, that kind of thing.
I was doing slow, monotonous round trips around the side of the building when something caught my eye: merchandise being slipped through the steel grates of the garden center onto the ground below. I stopped the car and continued to watch as item after item was set on the ground. All in all there was probably over 10 items there. It took only a moment to realize what was going on.
I immediately backed up the car and drove to the Walmart automotive center, maybe 50 yards away and around a couple of corners. I called into the shop and let them know what I’d seen. One of the automotive guys, we’ll call him Russell (Names have been changed) ran to a phone to let their loss prevention department know.
I went back to my car and parked a distance away to watch the rest of the story unfold. About 5 minutes later, a woman in a blue coat came out of the store with an empty basket, and immediately rounded the corner towards the merchandise now sitting on the sidewalk.
Unfortunately, Russell had hidden himself behind the corner, periodically peaking to see if his culprit would show up. She spotted him, immediately ditched her cart and did a brisk walk into the parking lot. I made eye contact with her, and she must’ve known I’d been watching because she immediately changed directions and began to zig-zag through the parking lot.
To make what could be an awesome part of this story shorter, I’ll simplify: I watched her about 15 minutes as she went throughout the parking lot, adjoining smoke shop, and Wendy’s restaurant before finally being picked up by a car. I was unable to get the license plate of her pick up because my view was temporarily obscured and I couldn’t see where she’d gone.
I went into the Walmart to see what they had recovered. Russell told me they’d recovered over $500 bucks worth of stuff, told me I was awesome, and said thanks. I accepted the gratitude and went on my way. On my way out, I decided to check out where she’d been dumping stuff.
I checked things out in the garden center and peeked out of the tarp to see how easy it was to slip stuff out of there. That’s when I noticed a ton of other stuff still sitting there after loss prevention had cleaned up everything on the sidewalk! This stuff was still outside the building, but stuck between a metal divider and the sidewalk, so you couldn’t see it from the outside of the building unless you knew where to look.
I went and told Russell what I’d found. He said
“Man that is awesome! You need to stick around so we can see if we can get you a gift card or something!”
I told him it was a nice gesture but it wasn’t necessary. “No way! Just stick around for a minute!”. I agreed. As Russell and another manager went and retrieved the additional merchandise, they found another $100.00+ worth of stuff! Unfortunately, it was getting late and they couldn’t find another manager to approve any sort of ‘Thank you’, so Russell said “hey man, give me your name and phone number and I’ll call you and let you know what we can do”.
I told Russell I was just happy doing the right thing and they didn’t need to do anything. He asked me if I was sure and I told him I was, and wished him a Merry Christmas.
The nail in coffin for me was the hanging around – I was just kind of “waiting” for my reward while they added up stuff and got permission from their management. So by the time they asked for my phone number it just felt odd accepting a reward for doing the right thing.
What do you think? I saved Walmart $500-600 worth of merchandise tonight, followed the would-be shoplifter around attempting to identify her, and spent time with them sewing up loose ends.
Should I have let Wal-Mart reward me for stopping a shoplifter?
I’m a huge fan of social observation and experimentation. Even as a little child I was fascinated by the choices people would make. In fact, I loved observing patterns in peoples behavior and even attempting to manipulate that behavior with subtle changes in the environment… or whatever.
One common social observation has resulted in a life-long rule for me:Never hold the door open for someone as you exit the movie theatre.
In virtually every other environment on this planet, I find that people will ‘take the door’ from you if you hold it open for them. And if they don’t take it, the next person will. It’s almost like it’s built in: “Oh, this guy got the door for them. Now I’ll take it from him”. And the line continues in this manner.
But not in a movie theatre. Something makes movie-goers walk right past you and out the door if you hold the door open for them. There is no acknowledgment of your courtesy; No attempt to prop the door open for themselves or the next person.
I don’t know if it’s the benefit of anonymity from the dark theatre, or a desperation to ‘make potty’ after sitting quietly for a 2 hour thriller… but the concept of general courtesy, and ‘door etiquette’, is completely eliminated when exiting a movie theatre.
There have been times in which I have stood there, waiting for the people behind me to bare the burden of the heavy steel door. But no, it’s as though I exist solely to prop this door open for them.
This creates an epic internal battle for me. My mother always taught me to get the door for people – male or female, although it was alwaysladies first at my house. So it’s hard for me when I get stuck there… what if I let that door go? Will someone take it? Will it hit someone in the face? My conscience is weighed with this question every time I think about letting the door go.
How do I reconcile my learned desire to be courteous and polite, with my carnal desire to not be a push-over door man for selfish movie-goers?
It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and from this point forward… keep your eyes open, because that door ain’t gonna get itself.