Monday, April 12, 2010




: to seize from behind roughly and forcefully propel forward

Whole Foods outsources a loss prevention staff from whatever kind of place supplies a loss prevention staff. Since I began working there about three and a half years ago we have gone through at least five different LP dudes, some of which were far more effective than others. But I'm not going to talk about them. I'm going to talk about Denny.

Denny is our current LP specialist. And I call him a specialist because this man lives and breathes loss prevention. Denny is a small, yet solid, Chinese-American man. He wears nondescript light gray pullover sweatshirts or navy wind-breakers. His sneakers are white and clean. His methods seem instinctual; he does not watch for shoplifters—he hunts. I have had the pleasure, more than once, of watching Denny tackle someone to the ground. And it is pretty amazing to witness him FROG-MARCH a man twice his size.

When female shoplifters are prosecuted, the law requires a female witness to be present while Denny writes up his report and waits for the police to arrive. Somehow in the three+ years I have worked there, I have managed to avoid this task until very recently. While I sat on the loading dock and "witnessed," I took notes about the experience, thinking I may want to use them someday. I suppose that day is today.

This is what I wrote:

Her name is Michelle. She has stolen bread, tomato sauce, five-dollar meatless soy-free chicken cutlets, and various baby items. I have to sit here and be a witness, watch to make sure Denny, the LP guy, doesn't molest her. Or rather, that she has no opportunity to lie and say he did.

He asks if she has a baby, a husband—
"Where's your husband right now?"
"I don't know," she says.
"What's he gonna think?"
"I don't know."

She is not homeless. She has a job. She filled up a tote bag with groceries and tried to leave the store. Denny is a hawk—a second generation Chinese immigrant, 5'7", solid. I've seen him throw people to the ground twice his size. He wears white sneakers. FILAs. They're clean.

She cries and says she's very sorry. She's never done this before. I wonder if she'll ever tell her kid she got caught shoplifting baby wipes and those bland crackers meant to dissolve in toothless mouths?

I can't see her from where I sit, on a stained computer chair outside Denny's office. I'm glad. I don't want her to meet my eyes. I don't want her to see how bored I am, getting paid $14 an hour to be her babysitter.

Denny tells me to put on the space heater if I am cold. His office is on the loading dock.

Denny explains to her that stealing over $25 worth of merchandise warrants an arrest. She begs for an exception; she asks to talk to the manager.

Greg is a young man, mid-thirties, a round face with a persistent layer of stubble. He seems nice enough, but I could also see him maybe 10-12 years ago, drunkenly talking a college freshman into his bed.

Greg comes up to Denny's office. She begs him. He explains the strictness of our policy:
"If we make an exception for you, we have to make an exception for everyone."
"Can you find it in your heart?" she sobs.
"It's not an issue of my heart. I'm sorry."
He exits.

I am surrounded by machines. Generators. Perhaps a furnace. The loading dock is loud. I hear only fragments of what is being said. She pleads with Denny. He says:
"You made a bad choice, Michelle." and "You're wasting my time."

I cannot hear her timid voice over the chorus of motors.

He lectures her like a high school principle until a cop shows up.

"Am I done?" I ask.

"You can go," Denny says.

1 comment:

  1. it started out as a HAHAH. but then to an ahh...

    i hate work right now. i love you always.