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The Shoes and the Rogue – nonfiction 

What possessed me to wear these horrible shoes today? Sure! They look amazing with this skirt. They are also fairly comfortable. But the soles are not exactly the best. There’s absolutely no traction in them. I guess I didn’t think that I would be running today.

Wait! Why am I running in a skirt? Why am I running in these shoes? Most importantly, why am I running while I’m at work?

Keys on a lanyard swing from around my neck. Their cling and clatter echo through the quiet parking lot, but I barely feel them smashing into my chest. My focus is on the person I’m chasing and these damn shoes. The last thing I want right now is to face plant the movie theater parking lot.

Words echo through the parking lot- my words, “Give me back my f***ing money, you f***ing bastard!”

The words not lost on the ears of the rogue or anyone within a two-block radius.
The thief is a skinny teenager wearing puffy pants and an oversized t-shirt when I first see him purchasing M&Ms from the concession stand. The end of the night is fast approaching when he encountered my team – consisting of my best friend, working in the box office, a quiet, mousy sixteen year old boy working the concession stand, and me.

We are working together to get out at a decent hour, and I’m there to remove the cash for the night.

My friend and I are chatting away about something innocuous in the box office (which is conveniently attached to the concession stand), when I notice the teen open the doors and run out into the parking lot. I shrug but keep talking until the concession worker casually strides in.

“Uh… Yeah. That guy just asked for a refund on his M&Ms. When I opened the drawer, he took sixty bucks from my register,” he said, pointing at the teen running through the parking lot.

I fall into action mode, commanding the boy to get the license plate details of the thief, and pick up the phone to call the police. He runs outside, pen in hand, and chases down a car that is escaping the parking lot at just the right moment.

My eyes fall on a figure behind a truck. He’s stripping off a top layer of clothes, and my mind remembers the puffy pants and t-shirt. He’s not in the car! He’s still in my parking lot.

Oh hell, no!

I bound out of the box office, jump over the concession counter, and start running.
My shoes slip twice, but I’m determined. I tell the box office attendant to finish the call to the police, and I yell at the other team member to get back inside. Then I run. Not exceptionally fast. It’s more like a jog. All 115lb, 5’2″ of me is chasing a boy almost twice my height.

I wonder if there’s a way to make these shoes more resilient. 

My voice could shatter glass; the pitch must be painful to his ears. It is to mine.

I gain on him. With intense focus, I reach out to grab the back of his shirt.

Just as I get to him, he turns and throws the money at me, “Here! I didn’t want your f***ing money anyway!”

Then he turns and runs away.

I pick up the money, content with myself, and walk excitedly back to the concession stand.
Only after the police arrive do I replay the story. As the words escape my lips, I stop to say, “Oh, shit” a few times. My hands start to tremble, and I almost faint. What the hell was I thinking?

Really? I am so stupid! 

The officers look at me like I am crazy. I’m inclined to agree with them.

Number one rule for dealing with theft at the store is safety. You give them exactly what they want and just memorize their features. Do not chase them across the parking lot and bark at them like a human-sized chihuahua.

The police take the statements from all three of us, take finger prints and the whole $20 (note: it was not $60) retrieved from the roguish teen. They tell me I’m lucky I’m not dead. They say that they just left the restaurant next door who said the boy had come there with a gun. That he could have used it on me. They leave me shattered. I collapse in the office and reassess my life.
The next day every person who works at the theater has heard the story. It becomes synonymous with what you should not do in the event of a theft, and I become the butt of every joke, with team members acting out the events like it was the most excitement we had ever had.

I laugh about it now (honestly, I even laughed then), but it’s definitely not something I will ever do again.

Those damn shoes went in the trash the next day.

 

 

 

(This happened in 2001 at the Cinemark Movies 8 in Paris, TX when I was the assistant manager. I still use it as an example of what happens when you act before you think. I was 20.)

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