I’ve been alarmed

I think the world is getting a little too high tech.  I know what it’s like to set off an alarm when I leave The Library Center or Staples or even Wal-Mart, but this morning, I got beeped going INTO a store.

Yes, it was the Mart of Walls, of course.  It was 8:30 AM and I smiled at the friendly greeter as I sailed through those noble and extremely familiar portals.  My whole day was timed down to ten minute segments, and I was already ten minutes ahead (what joy!), but I was a woman on a mission, so it was a good thing that there were no small children or elderly women blocking my way.

As I breezed in, an alarm went off, but I knew it couldn’t be me (after all, I was going IN, not out), so I kept on striding.  But looking around to see which unfortunate soul HAD triggered such a loud alarm at such an early hour, I saw not a single human anywhere nearby – except the greeter, of course.  I paused and said to him, “it’s not me, is it?”  He replied that it probably was and then approached me with a scanner wand-type thing.  It gave me the same feeling I get when the foil wrapper on the Certs in my pocket triggers airport security.

Now, I was pushing a cart with only one item in it – my purse.  He said, “It’s probably some purchase you made at another store.”  I thought back over my morning.  The only other store I’d been to was Jiffy Lube, and although I had spent almost $60 there, I was carrying no purchased item to show for it.

The greeter was zoning in on my purse, and as any woman knows, a man reaching for your purse does not give you a warm fuzzy feeling.  I beat him to the punch, and zipped it open, so as to reveal that there was obviously nothing stolen in there – only my wallet, some feminine unmentionables, my camera, and . . . oh, yeah, the unopened CD that Katie had asked me to “please return at your convenience.”  She had bought two for Andrew’s birthday, planning all along to see which other ones other people gave him and then return one of them.

I showed the greeter the CD (thoughtfully rubber banded together with its receipt and Katie’s debit card).  “Could this be it?  I brought it to return but totally forgot it was in my purse.”  He scanned the CD and said, “Yep, that’s it.”  I was given a bar code label and pointed toward the customer service desk, where I quickly completed the return.

The rest of my Wal-Mart jaunt was uneventful, but I really found that initial alarm experience to be a bit jarring.  What if I had had a CD in my purse that I owned and didn’t intend to return? Would that set off Wal-Mart’s alarm?  What if someday they decide that my own digital camera is alarm provoking?  Or my wallet?  Or the FIVE bank deposits I also happened to be carrying for a trip to the bank a couple hours later?  Will lip polish do it, too?

The greeter was quite friendly and very polite, but I still think that what’s in my purse should be none of his (or his company’s) business.


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