Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mom with the Sticky Fingers

I had posted on one of Kevin’s entries about the spirit of my kleptomaniac mother, and thought I’d share a few of my mother’s sticky finger moments.

Mom wasn’t really a shoplifter, per se. She didn’t go into stores wearing a trench coat so that she could stash things under it. But she was a firm believer in the idea that she should not speak up when the cashier made a mistake in her favor. Years later I am still reprogramming the part of my brain that won’t speak up, so that now I actually do speak up when the cashier makes a mistake—even when it’s in my favor.

Now when I do speak up when I am in that situation, I can almost feel my mother’s hand on my shoulder and her voice saying in Polish, presumably so the salesperson can’t understand what the imaginary voice is saying, “Quiet! You’re getting that for cheaper!” By not speaking up, Mom collected a variety of goods including a camera, and a sled for one of her granddaughters either for free or for some drastically reduced price.

The Legend of the Blue Bin
Mom was notorious for finding useful things on the side of the road as she was driving along. Sometimes she’d find a bungee cord that was in perfect condition, or she’d find tools that had fallen off of a truck. One day, when cities and towns first started collecting recyclables with the regular trash pick up, she came home with a blue bin that said “Western Massachusetts Recycles!” on it. We didn’t have trash pickup at the curb in our town at that time, so we didn’t see trash cans and bins on the street in our neighborhood.

She burst into the garage after coming home from work and said “Look at this great bin I found on the side of the road! This would be great to keep all the garden stuff in, wouldn’t it?”

“Um, Mom? That’s a recycling bin. Somebody put that on the side of the road so the garbage man would empty it.”

“Oops!” she laughed. That bin is still in the garage to this day. I think it contains a volleyball, and various odds and ends in the garage.

Ill-Gotten Umbrella
Several years before the blue bin incident, when Mom used to drive a school bus, she used to go on an outing with the other bus drivers at the end of the school year. One year they all went to Boston for the day. In the afternoon it began to rain as Mom and the bus drivers were shopping in Fanieul Hall. She walked into the Swatch store to buy an umbrella. She stood at the counter and waited for the clerk to finish talking on the phone. She waited for several minutes, and the clerk never acknowledged that Mom was waiting. Mom didn’t want to keep her friends waiting, so she put the umbrella back and left the store, figuring she’d come back for it later.

Awhile later, she went back to get the umbrella. The clerk was still on the phone, and Mom waited with cash in hand for the woman to stop talking. Again, the woman didn’t acknowledge that Mom was waiting. “I know how I’ll get her to pay attention,” she thought as she turned on her heel, umbrella in hand. She walked toward the door of the shop, then out the door. She turned and saw the clerk, still chatting on the phone, and opened the umbrella to shield herself from the rain and kept walking.



Blogger *~*Cece*~* said...

Oh I remember you talking of your mom & her "ways". lol I have a purple City Of Long Beach recyclng bin at my parents house. I think its full of clean car wash towels! lol

April 16, 2008 at 6:32 PM  
Blogger ME said...

LOL! I like the way your mom thinks! Come to think of it, I've also acquired a few extra recycling bins, wonder where they came from.

April 17, 2008 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger Jansky T said...

I, myself, have absconded with countess 24-packs of soft drinks that were on the bottom of the cart that we forgot about and no one checked for.

There was one time when my daughter, when she was about 3, was really tired and kept falling asleep in the cart seat. We picked up a stuffed animal and let her use it as a pillow...with the full intention of putting the animal back. Of course, we forgot about it and walked right on out of the store without incident.

And that thing with the umbrella? I did that exact same thing, only it was with a stack of Spider-Man comic books years ago when I was activey collecting them.

April 17, 2008 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger Gypsy said...

That clerk deserved your mom walking out with the umbrella. :)

April 17, 2008 at 11:09 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Great stories!! My mom also kept quiet when a clerk made a mistake if it was in her favor. If it wasn't, she was the first to speak up!

April 17, 2008 at 6:37 PM  

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