So long as there is blood coursing through my dumb veins I will never shop at Best Buy again. Why? Because I feel the store’s anti-shoplifting measures went above and beyond what’s necessary at the weekend. Let me explain.
I went to the local mall, the Poughkeepsie Galleria, on Saturday to drop off a roll of film at Target. (I’ve recently been shooting with a film camera; I’m working on a post that’ll show up one of these days.) My brother and I then exited the way we came in: via Best Buy. The Best Buy is located right next to the parking lot, so it’s quicker to go to and from the parking lot via the store. You know what I mean.
Anyhow, as we’re exiting the Best Buy, on our way to the parking lot, the security alarm goes off. In my experience, the guy standing watch by the exit usually just waves you on—“it’s cool, just go”—since the alarm goes off all the time. (Shouldn’t that be fixed?) Not on Saturday.
The guy on watch immediately comes over to us, saying something like “stop right there,” with the tone of voice that suggested he was on a massive power trip. My initial reaction, at least mentally, was “no, I’m not stopping.” But whatever, let’s see what he has to say.
He then instructs my brother to lift his shirt up (?!) and empty out his pockets, and asks me to empty my pockets. I pulled out my phone and said something like, “Are you allowed to do this, or is this police-only type of thing?”
Then the guy motions us back into the store—the above took place in that little divider part between doors, where the gum ball machines are—and brings us to a table in plain view of all the other shoppers. Oh, great, now we have a situation, I’m thinking. The guy’s “you messed with the wrong man” grimace and tone of voice really put us off. He then proceeds to rifle through the contents of my brother’s wallet, like a police officer would. Never mind how hard it’d be to stuff an Xbox 360 or wireless router inside a wallet, it was the whole situation here that annoyed me.
Again I asked the guy, “Is this even legal? Are you permitted to look though our wallets, ask us to lift our shirts and empty our pockets because the alarm, which goes off every time I come here, went off?” After about a minute—I’m not going to exaggerate for effect and claim something ridiculous, it was only about a minute—of looking over our items, he says, “Go on, get out of here.” Gee, thanks. Next time I’ll strip naked and you can make sure there’s nothing on my person.
Here’s how far I was willing to take it: if I could go back in time, I’d tell the guy, “Look, I didn’t steal anything, so there’s no way I’m going to let you rifle through my things, demanding to see X, Y or Z, just to prove my innocence. That’s not happening. You’re more than welcome to call the police, who I’ll listen to because they’re the police, and not some guy in a yellow shirt.” Then the police would come, tell me to stop being a crybaby, chastise me for wasting their time, and tell me to leave the damn store already. And I would have, in a heartbeat, because, again, they’re the police, not some guy in a polo shirt. The police can compel you to do something, not some Best Buy employee who thinks he’s making an example out of someone, or who’s taking his aggression out on you.
Is this an overreaction? Perhaps; I don’t see myself as Toussaint Louverture or Patrick Henry or anything. But in no way am I prepared to shop at a store that thinks it can pull you aside, in the view of Lord knows how many people—great, now to these people I look like a criminal—just because its alarm goes off, especially since the alarm goes off all the time. But the fact that that alarm goes off every single time I enter the store suggests that the alarm perhaps isn’t what it should be— so don’t ask me to “comply” or whatever because your alarm is rubbish. I don’t take kindly to being treated like a common thief by your goons because your security system is trash.
Thank you, and God bless America.