Not caring or not wanting to care

2 years ago
Eric Vanderburg

Last week I was walking down the street with a friend and a guy and a girl yelled over to us from a nearby car asking if we wanted to buy fragrances.  They showed us a box that looked like it came from a retail stock room and it was filled with fragrances.  “Designer brands, two for ten”, the guy said.

Several things went through my mind at that moment.  It was a few days before Mother’s Day so it was an ideal time for me to buy a fragrance and the price was right.  However, I am always skeptical when something seems too good to be true and I disliked the idea of pulling my wallet out for some people whom I did not know selling merchandise from a car.  They wore clean casual clothing that did not draw attention but they were obviously not associated with a store or organization.

“No thanks,” I said as we continued on our way.  A short distance at the corner of the block, I saw another person kneeling down with a similar box showing fragrances to two ladies nearby.  As we passed him, two more individuals walked briskly out of the store carrying boxes of fragrances.

The private investigator in me wanted to put the rest of the pieces together.  At the same time, I wanted to stop them.  No, I didn’t try to perform a citizen’s arrest or anything, but I did casually stroll into the store with my friend.

I walked down the aisles looking for the fragrance area which was actually located near the front of the store.  I could see that a few associates were stocking the shelves as boxes were stacked at various locations around the store.  I asked the nearest employee where the manager was, and they pointed me to a woman a few aisles over.

I found her kneeling over a box with her box opener out.  “Excuse me”, I said, “It appears that some of your fragrances have been stolen and are being sold on the street right now.”

She didn’t bother looking up at me as she continued opening the box.  “All of our fragrances are in a locked case”, she said casually.

“I can see you are stocking many goods right now”, I asked, gesturing to the boxes around us.  “Are you sure that some fragrances haven’t been taken directly from their shipping boxes?”

She retracted her box opener and slipped it into her pocket and stood up, slowly, not rushed or concerned at all.  “Our fragrances are locked up.  I don’t know what you saw but no one is selling our fragrances.”

I was a bit surprised.  She didn’t even entertain the thought of it.  I strolled back to where the fragrances were and did not see any boxes.  The floor had been recently swept so there were no box outlines.  Could the thieves have taken the fragrances all the way from the back?  Possibly, and then another idea came to me.

My friend was coming down another aisle and I met his eye and waved for us to leave.  As we walked away from the store, I commented, “I talked to the manager.  She didn’t care or didn’t want to care.”  Which one is it?  I don’t know but I do care or at least am curious.  Did she just not care?  Some avoid such situations because they do not want to get involved.  Stores expect a certain amount of shrinkage and loss on a balance sheet is sometimes easier than prosecuting a crime.

Maybe she didn’t want to care.  She may have sold the boxes to the thieves to make a few extra bucks.  If so, she would not want to draw any attention to it.  To do so, she must maintain that there is no evidence of wrongdoing.