Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Z Apprehends A Shoplifter and tells her mummy

It was a quiet day at the shop. I popped across the road to the bakers during the morning to get my lunch and met friends on the opposite pavement. They asked if I had time for coffee - I went back to check with Tim and said I'd be 20 minutes. I returned, eventually, and apologised for being half an hour or so. "Hm, and the rest" he said, checking the clock.

Wednesday afternoon is traditionally early closing day and, although not many shops do still close, it's still the least busy afternoon of the week. I sat and read the paper in between serving customers. Nina came in. She is elderly and depressed, and a ten minute conversation dampened my spirits considerably.

Later, I caught a movement out of the window (there is shelving outside which means I can see out better than others see in, but the view is partly obscured). A little girl had been by the outside display and was running across the road to a car. She handed two objects in through the open window; two hands accepted them and then reached out again to help her in the window. I stalked out and across the road, looking rather more carefully than the child had. "Excuse me?" I demanded. "Did that little girl take some apples?" The apples were thrust into my hands by a child whose face went from a smile to shock in an instant. I told her that she should not encourage her little sister to behave so badly and said other suitably telling-off things. I marched back over the road and told a customer who had just entered the shop about it. We grumbled to each other and then I went back to the car. "I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to tell your mother or father about this when they get back to the car" I said. "It wasn't me, I didn't tell her to do it, I didn't know" said the child, who was about 10. "You were smiling when she came back and you took the apples," I accused.

I did, too. I told her sympathetically and made it clear that it wasn't the apples, but that I felt she should know. I'm afraid those little girls will have got a rocket. Not only was their mum horrified (how embarrassing, I was so sorry for her) at what had happened, but she had left a child old enough to be responsible for her little brother and sister for a very short time while she popped into a shop, and the 7 year old had got out of the car and crossed the road, when she had told them to stay in the car.

You know, if that older kid had been brave enough and honest enough to say she was sorry, but she had dared the little one and she would take responsibility, I'd have given her a gentle ticking-off and probably even given them the apples (local Worcesters, probably worth about 24p), it was trying to dump the blame on the child that annoyed me.

Anyway. The takings were £100 down on yesterday, but that's how Wednesdays are. Tomorrow is market day (yes, a large fruit & veg stall) so the town will be a lot more lively.

Oh, and this week, after a gap of some 30 years, Boots the Chemist has returned to Yagnub. MacDaniells had been our chemist for years and years, until Mr Mac retired and sold out; the people who bought it already owned a small chain of fairly local chemists, but it's never been so good. Now they have sold out too. Boots used to have a shop here, which they rather strangely sited next to Mr Mac's; evidently trying to squeeze him out of business, but it backfired. Locals didn't care for this behaviour and pretty well boycotted the shop. All at least 30 years ago, now. Apart from the Co-op, now outside the town centre, and the newsagent, this is the first and only national chain store in Yagnub.

16 comments:

ephelba said...

Doesn't it just angry up the blood? Little boogers. Glad you saw her, maybe it will do her good to get caught. You have to hope, anyway.

My experience has been that kiddos are usually better intentioned than grown ups give them credit for, but things like this are a shame.

Z said...

Fortunately, their mother reacted very well and I'm sure she'll deal with it sensibly. I suspect it could well have been a dare - I was very indignant at the time though. I don't think those little girls will want to run into me again in a hurry -not that I shouted or anything :-)

badgerdaddy said...

Nooooo... the newsagent's is a Martins, that's a national chain too. But apart from that... Well, that's why I moved there in the first place.

Z said...

The Sage and I talked about Martins/Paperchain and we thought they weren't a national chain. If they reach to Shropshire though, that's fair enough.

Even now though, apart from ubiquitous banks and estate agents, most shops are run by their owners.

Caitlin said...

It does sound like a dare, but I must say the even the 7 year old should know better. I'd be appalled if my recently turned 8 year old did that - however being an older sister myself I know the powerful influence an older sibling has.

I wonder how they were going to explain the apples to their mother when she came back - they didn't really think it through did they? Little monkeys.

Dave said...

Is your Co-op part of a national chain?. The one here is part of the Ipswich and Norwich (or the other way round, I forget) Co-operative Society.

And do you truly have no Building Societies or Banks in Yagnub?

One could also argue that churches are national (indeed, international) chains too.

I'm amazed than Dandy the Pedant hasn't picked you up on this.

Dave said...

Store. You said chain store. Still, I won't delete my comment. Let my failings be seen by all.

The Co-op bit still applies, anyway.

dharmabum said...

interesting incident with the kids, i'd have loved to be there and see how you dealt with them little ones, z.

Z said...

The Co-op is a national institution. Rainbow may well be the name of its East Anglian operation, for which reason I didn't use it. Since all their own-brand goods are marked Co-operative group (CWS), with the Manchester address, to refer to our Co-op as East Angularian would not reflect the facts.

Badgerdaddy is right about Martins though and I'll correct that.

Z said...

Polite but assertive, Dharmabum.

Dave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blue Witch said...

How refreshing to find a parent reacting in this positive way to their children's misbehaviour. Sadly a dying breed parents like that.

Z said...

Rainbow is the name used by the Co-op society of East Angular and Cambridgeshire, rather sweetly they declare they are the 6th largest group in the country.

As far as I and everyone else is concerned, we shop at the Co-op. But Dave is correct and it's Rainbow and therefore, although the brand name is CWS, it's not a national chain.

BW, I think there are a lot of parents like that about. But where is the publicity value in reporting it? Of course, I spoke sympathetically and politely to her and did not put her on the defensive. I also made it clear I wasn't complaining or blaming her, or even taking it seriously as 'shoplifting' but just telling her something I was sure she'd want to know, though she would hate to know it had happened.

Blue Witch said...

There might be lots of parents about like that where you are Z, but give it 10 years and you'll be faced with the "F* off it's none of your b* business" that would have met you had you done that in many less traditional communities.

Hence most shopkeepers turning blind eyes to 'shrinkage' these days.

Z said...

You have met me, BW, you will, I am sure, appreciate that I could be quite difficult to quarrel with. The approach I made did not invite anger but offered sympathy and assumed agreement - if I had received a different response I'd have played up to the mother and got her on my side. Quarreling with me is like punching jelly because I don't *see* aggression.

If it had been a group of older children I'd have still spoken to them, but differently and the matter of speaking to their parents would probably not have arisen.

Yes, I know what you mean, when my flat was a shop with a tenant the shopkeeper had to pay protection money to the local nasties and I am not belittling the problem. But I'm not blaming little girls for that.

luckyzmom said...

I hope this experience will stay with both these girls and deter them from such behavior in the future. You reacted admirably!