One Wednesday evening a while back I wandered into Macy's to buy myself a warm winter hat. As I made my way to the hat department, I noticed the store seemed unusually empty. There were no clerks, and I saw no other customers. It was just the hats and me. I was getting creeped out. Maybe, I thought, this is Macy's way of doing inventory. Everyone and everything is marched down into the basement and nobody is allowed back out until the counting is finished and the paperwork is signed.
Wait a minute. There was somebody. What a relief! It was a tall, gorgeous Cuban baseball player... No, it was Ranger from a Stephanie Plum novel... No, it was just the store security guard. He lingered in my section, but assiduously avoided eye contact with me. It was like he was trying to make himself invisible. That only works if you are 5 years old, I thought. And there he went, still not meeting my eye, and he was out of the door of the store.
Then, it hit me. He had made me for a shoplifter. I instantly felt better because I knew there was now a big, tall, handsome man giving me 100 percent of his attention. What woman wouldn't be pleased by that?
Meanwhile, I still needed a hat, but there were hardly any hats at all. Where were all the hats? I went to look for a clerk and I took a hat with me, to ask her a question about it.
No, she said. There weren't any more hats. Macy's had just concluded a 50 percent off sale and all the organized people had come in and bought up every last hat, except the one I had in my hand, which I hated. I held it out in front of me like it was an angry kitten and went to put it back on its hook with the other few ugly hats. There you go, Mr. Loss Prevention Specialist. Your merchandise is safe once more on this night of nights.
Seeing that there was no hat in my immediate future, I left the halls of Macy's and walked out onto Third Avenue. As I left the store, the guard walked back in, still not looking at me. I was tempted to stop him and say, "I saw what you did and I know who you are," but I decided it was best for me to get out of there and go home. On my bus, I wondered whether my guy might have been a little depressed to have no criminals in his store that night. He was amusingly not a very good security guard, as he was transparent as Saran Wrap. Had I been a real thief, I would have used my radar, and there would have been no stealing that night.
I wondered if he occasionally allowed a theft to occur so as to have some excitement, and something to do with the rest of his evening.