Perpetual Plan B

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Stupid Criminal Story (The Long, Tedious Version)

Now that I am pretty sure I'm not going to be hauled off to the big house, I can share my whole, traumatic story.

It all started at Ikea. (Who would have thought?)

About a month ago, Morgan and I went to a baby shower for my niece and somehow ended up at Ikea. I've already chronicled most of those details so I'll just jump in with the problem.

We bought Morgan a new bedside lamp base and shade. When we got home, we discovered that there was a piece missing from the lamp, because when I went to twist the light bulb in, it was threaded on the outside, except for one little tiny part down in that is too skinny for a light bulb. After being sidetracked for about two weeks, I finally got around to contacting Ikea to see if I should have bought another part or what the problem was.

I first sent an e-mail. They wrote back and said to call the Draper Ikea and talk directly to them. It took another week or so to get around to that. I lined up everything I thought I would need, lamp base, plastic packaging, complete with all numbers that would possibly be needed and receipt. I called and the man was nice and it sounded like no problem at all, they would just find the part that was missing from the lamp and send it out in about six business days. He kept apologizing that I would have to wait that long to get the part. I told him it wasn't a problem at all, I was just thrilled that they would send it to me and the problem would be solved.

We were almost finished when he asked me to read off the transaction number on my receipt. I read it to him and he asked for another number. Then he paused for a long time and asked if I had another receipt. As he was quiet I started looking on the receipt to see how much I'd paid for the lamp base. I realized pretty quickly what the new problem was. The lamp base wasn't on my receipt. I started to panic when I remembered that we had used the self-checkout! Let me just reiterate here, I hate the self-checkout for this very reason. Whenever we are at Macey's, Ally wants to use the self-checkout and I usually tell her no because of the potential for error. I didn't even want to use the self-checkout that day but we were running so late that I agreed to let Morgan do it. If you go back to my original post I think I even mentioned that I didn't want to use the self-checkout.

So the guy was very nice and he said it would probably be fine. I asked him if I could pay for the lamp base right then with a credit card but he couldn't do it because he wasn't set up to take payments. He again said it would probably be fine and he could probably send the part anyway. I told him I didn't want the part until I had paid for the lamp. Then he gave me a case number and hung up.

I realized that if they thought I'd taken the lamp on purpose then they would probably also think I'm a very stupid criminal to steal something and then call and request a part for it. Honestly I felt sick about it for days.

And then I forgot all about it until I got home from somewhere and Hal told me a lady had called from Ikea and asked specifically if we'd used the self-checkout.

"What else did she say?" I asked.

"That's about it." he said.

"Did she leave a number so I could call her back?"


Hal also reassured me that it was probably fine and not to worry about it but I now had visions of two cops showing up at my door and cuffing me and throwing me into the paddy wagon. It haunted me again for days. I was actually starting to feel physically ill whenever I thought about it.

There was one faint glimmer of hope when I started thinking that just maybe they would have a video camera set up at the checkout and they could go back to the tape to see that we weren't trying to steal anything. I'm pretty sure I even said, "Make sure you get everything." I promise, I am so paranoid about a situation like this happening that I don't even hardly dare open my purse in a store to get out a shopping list so they don't think I'm putting anything I shouldn't in my purse. I always put my shopping lists in my pants pocket. I was also hoping they would look me up and see that I had no criminal record (so far anyway).

About another week later I got home from somewhere else and Morgan told me the lady from Ikea had called back.

Great, now they probably think I'm totally avoiding them. How guilty does that make me look?

Luckily, she did get a phone number but it was Saturday night and the lady had already gone home. I had to wait for Monday to call back.

Monday came and after about 4 calls back and forth, missing each other, I finally got her on the phone at around 2:00. She was very nice and started off asking me what the problem was with the lamp. I breathed a sigh of relief and told her there were two problems. First of all, I needed to pay for it and second, it was missing a part. So far, so good.

She said to describe the part I needed, but I said I wanted to pay first. She said she could e-mail me a credit card transaction form but then I would need to finish the transaction over the phone. Would I like to do this tomorrow, or when was it convenient?

"Right now is great for me." I said. I really needed to get this over with. I had literally felt sick to my stomach for days now.

So, she said she'd e-mail the form and keep the transaction open for 10 minutes.

I sat at my computer to wait.

It showed up as a fax form. I don't have a fax machine. I seriously have the worst luck ever!

So, I started to edit the form, rather sloppily, to just fill in my information and erase most of the underscores. It worked sort of okay until I got to the part where it needed my signature. By now eight of my ten minutes were up. I finally just changed the font to Vivaldi. My signature never looked better.

I mentally patted myself on the back as I remembered to save the new form with a new name. Then it was time to send it back with just a minute or so to spare. I hurriedly dashed off an e-mail and went to attach the document. Then I couldn't find the document anywhere. It wasn't in my docs and it wasn't on my desktop. It wasn't anywhere that it should be. This took about five more frantic minutes. I finally went back to the original e-mail to find the original document to start over. There in a random temporary internet file I found my file. I sent it and I was only about seven and a half minutes late.

Now I had to wait for Marzela (we were on a first name basis by this time) to call me back to get the rest of my credit card info. Ten excruciating minutes later she called. The transaction was now complete.

Next I explained to her what the problem was. I had looked at the lamp base online to see what it was supposed to look like. I noticed that it was not available online any more. I wondered if that was because they were all missing parts.

She said she would pull one and send me the part the next day because the mail had already gone out that day. She also said we wouldn't need to talk again unless she needed to ask me a question and then we hung up.

Whew, finally the problem was solved.

And then I got looking a little more closely at the lamp. There was a sticker on it that I hadn't noticed before. It said to use a type G bulb. What is a type G bulb? Is it a Swedish light bulb? Finally something sort of clicked in my very slow brain and I went and got the very tiny bulb out of the night light. Um yes, it fit. I had stolen (but now bought) a lamp that used a puny little night light bulb. After looking at it with the shade on, Morgan and I both agreed that this would never put out enough light for a good reading lamp. So, I had to call my new best friend, Marzela, back and explain why I now didn't want the lamp. She kindly informed me I had 90 days to return the lamp for a refund and that she would mail me the receipt the next day.

Honestly, crime truly doesn't pay, especially stupid accidental crimes.

Now here's my stupid honest person story that happened the very next day:

So last night I had to go to Macey's to get some food for Activity Days and some groceries for us. It was the really busy dinner hour (I was waiting for Ally to get out of karate) and people (myself included) were tired and cranky. As I was quickly flinging my groceries onto the conveyor belt, I noticed Austin was slipping something under his shirt.

"Oh great! Now I have to deal with this." I thought to myself. So, I physically dragged him to the cashier and explained what happened, hoping she'd give him a stern talking to that would scare him from ever doing it again. Instead she happily told him it was fine.

"No it's not." I said. "I want you to tell him it's wrong and he shouldn't ever do it again."

"No really, it's okay." she repeated. (She was a teenager after all. I don't think they get the whole concept of trying to teach little kids lessons.)


He had smashed the candy, so I insisted on paying for it and it wasn't even a kind I like. And it was expensive. I'm not even sure if I ended up with it because I didn't see it when I unloaded the groceries. With my luck, Austin probably found it and ate it while we were in the car.

Next I hefted Austin into the cart to keep him out of further trouble and kept emptying the groceries onto the belt. By this time the guy behind me had given up and went to another line.

As I was swiping my card, I chatted a little with the guy who was bagging my groceries. I think he has Cerebral Palsy or something similar and he's really friendly. He handed Austin a roll of Smarties. I tried to tell the guy that he couldn't have them because he was naughty but I don't think he got what I was trying to say. Austin smugly took the candy and started eating it. I couldn't wait to get out of there!

They still had quite a few bags to finish putting in my cart so they called another girl over to help. As I was waiting, I noticed the four gallons of milk on the bottom. I couldn't remember putting them on the conveyor belt so now I would be stealing the milk if I walked out. I was already a would-be lamp stealer, I didn't want to start becoming a milk stealer. I felt like crying from sheer exhaustion from the events of the last couple days.

I said, to no one in particular, "I think I didn't pay for that milk."

Nobody really paid any attention to me. I repeated myself. Finally I enlisted the help of the new bagger and told her I needed to pay for the milk. (Now, note here that there is one small but very important detail that I forgot to pay attention to. Do you know what it is?) She said I could run to the self-checkout and take care of it. I gave her such a look of horror that I think she felt like she had no choice, other than open up a special express lane just for me.

I paid my $7.00 and went on my merry little way, feeling rather proud of myself for going the extra mile to be honest when it was clearly inconvenient. I still had the problem of Sticky Fingers Austin to deal with.

We picked Ally up and Austin just sobbed in the back seat, afraid I'd tell her his dirty little secret. I told him I wouldn't tell her, but we would need to talk to dad about it when we got home. Austin was just hysterical and kept telling me he didn't want to be in my family any more and that he wouldn't be my little boyfriend ever again.

When we got home Austin hid in the basement, still sobbing and wouldn't talk to Hal. I was hoping that by then he was sufficiently scared. (He had already done this once before, about six months ago so I really wanted him to learn his lesson this time.) We talked to him and hopefully that is going to be the end of that. He must not have been too traumatized though because he said our family prayer and he said it was "the best day ever". I think he really did find that piece of candy and eat it.

So, here's the final straw. After Hal and Morgan left for a meeting at the church I got looking at my original receipt to check the price of something. Right there in black and white were four gallons of milk, paid for the first time. Why didn't I just take two seconds and double check it before I paid for them the second time? (I'll tell you why, because I'm stupid!)

Do you think it's worth the humiliation for me to try and get my $7.00 back?

(And really, how much more can I take? I have got to quit being so side-tracked all the time. I should get that $7.00 and put it toward the purchase price of that Focus Factor vitamin that they sell. Does anyone know if it works? Really, I'm serious.)


Carol said...

This has got to be one of the top stories you have ever told!!

The Gathering Place said...

I hate it when things like that happen to me, but your writing was fun to read!