Feeling guilty for speaking up …

I LOVE the colours in this sunset!!

Let me make two things absolutely clear:

1. I HATE approaching shop assistances to ask for help. I won’t think twice about taking an extra 30 minutes to walk around a shop three or four times in search of a wanted item, if that means I can avoid talking to a shop assistant. That dreadful moment where you approach someone stacking the shelves, just as they turn their back to you … you clear your throat nervously, “um, excuse me?” … that was a little squeak and you clear your throat again, aware that there’s no way they could have heard you … “excuse me?” this time a fellow-shopper on the other side of the aisle looks up, as if to ask why you’re disrupting their shopping experience, after all, choosing between cereal brands is a task that requires undivided attention … despite the obvious opinion of the other shopper, who is now placing their chosen box of added-fibre-musili to their trolley, that you are shouting loudly, the shop assistant still hasn’t heard you … in a final act of desperation, you open your mouth one last time, ready to bellow … at this moment the shop assistant chooses to turn around to reach for another box … to find you staring at them in a shocked manner, your mouth hanging open … you turn bright red (that is, if your face had not already reached its top level of pinkness under the start of the musili-shopper) … “can I help you?” you are jolted back to reality by the tone that clearly shows how little they want to be bothered and hastily snap your mouth shut, while trying to remember what item you couldn’t find “um, I’m looking for cornflour and I can’t seem to find it anywhere” … without a word the shop assistant points and there, right in front of you, is a display of multiple brands of cornflour … a noise which resembles something between a moan and a nervous giggle escapes your lips and you mutter some sort of inane thank you and select the most expensive pack of cornflour, your mind completely occupied on how to get out of the store in as short a time as possible, coming into contact with as few people as possible …

Yes, I hate approaching shop assistants to ask for help.

2. I HATE being the centre of attention. One of the hardest moments of my wedding day was having to step through the door into the auditorium, where over 250 people were concentrating entirely on watching me. Agony. And in the end I had to do it again to enter the reception room, thankfully this time with my husband beside me. I try to avoid speaking out loud in housegroup, dreading the moment everyone looks at me and it’s my voice by itself, against the silence. Being late for church, and the people nearest the door turning round to stare at the late-comer as you open the door. Although celebrating your birthday is lots of fun, you do have to put up with being somewhat the centre of attention and when the moment to blow out your cake candles comes … And worst of all, when you’re in a large room of people and go over and ask one person a discrete question, at which point they loudly say they didn’t hear and everyone else goes silent and looks round, so you have to either say it doesn’t matter or make a big fuss of going out of the room to talk … shudder!

Yes, I hate being the centre of attention.

The daffodils have now all gone for this year ...

Right, now you’ve got those two things that I hate happening firmly in your mind, picture the two combined … at one and the same moment … nightmare!!

Yesterday afternoon that is exactly what happened. And all in the name of “doing the right thing”. Sometimes it would be a lot more comfortable not to have a conscience! 😛

I realised we had nearly run out of an essential item (yup, I do tend to consider toilet paper quite important! 😀 ), so I went round the corner to a store to get some.

Walking down a busy, crowded aisle to the checkouts, this young man who was walking past me, even after he realised I’d seen him, put the bottle of wine he was carrying down the front of his trousers, before leisurely walking out of the shop!!!

Now I’ve never witnessed someone shop-lifting before, but I knew what was happening in front of my eyes and I had this uncomfortable feeling that I was going to have to do something about it … I mean, you can’t just let someone steal right in front of you and not say something, right?!?

Along comes Hate Number 1. When, after my second attempt at getting his attention, this shop assistant looked up, he seemed to be particularly board and unimpressed with having to interact with a customer. After I’d got out a stumbling sentence to explain what had happened, with a couple of apologies for bothering him thrown in (yes, that’s right, I was apologising even though I wasn’t the one who had committed a crime! 😛 ), the look on his face said plain as day “why did you have to tell me?! Now I have to do something about it!!”

I don't think I've been properly appreciating tulips! 🙂

After he’d talked to the security guard I pointed out the man, just walking past the windows outside and the chase ensued!

I think the security guard from the store down the street was approaching from the other side, because the man with the wine suddenly dashed across the road, the security guard from this shop hot on his heels. All very exciting.

By this time I was feeling guilty.

Not only had I been forced into approaching a shop assistant for help, but when I had to point out the guy getting away, everyone at the checkouts turned round at stared at me. It felt like their manner was decidedly accusatory – just a result of my over-embarrassed state, but a real enough feeling none the less! That somehow I’d snitched on a fellow human being. That the poor boy just wanted some wine and I should have pretended I hadn’t seen anything.

Hate Number 2 had arrived with a vengeance.

I tried my to purchase my items with as nonchalant an air as possible, as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that people were still looking at me.

You can tell me I’ve watched too much of The Wire and 24, but a couple of thoughts about reprisals from the guy’s mates did cross my mind … 😀

Two big hates in one day, at the same time.

For being “A Good Citizen”, that really doesn’t seem quite fair, now does it?!?


2 thoughts on “Feeling guilty for speaking up …

  1. Actually, don’t you remember that time just below Boots when we saw a guy come dashing out of a shop chased by a security guard and a couple of shop assistants and then a police car turned up and three policemen joined the chase?! We were quite little then, so you might have forgotten. Andwe didn’t actually SEE the act of shoplifting. 🙂 THIS guy may have wanted the wine, but honestly I think that you did the RIGHT thing in “snitching” on him. Pinching bottles of wine can lead to pinching much bigger and more expensive things and who knows, maybe you’ve helped check one person before they take up a life of crime. Now THAT’S worth being the centre of attention for!

    What I DO want to know, however, is how on earth did he manage to RUN with a bottle of wine down his trousers?!?!?! 😀

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