We’re all heroes…
I’m in the grocery store. Pushing a cart down the main aisle, list in hand. It’s not a store I frequent. I glance around, reading signs, looking down aisles, getting my bearings.
Two guys are standing at the end-cap of an aisle pretending to straighten cans and boxes. One is young, maybe early twenties. The other in his forties or fifties. The younger one keeps stealing a glance down the aisle closest to him.
What the hell?
Though I had seen store security act like this before (usually following me…), they didn’t look like – or dress like store security.
Both had cellphone cases attached to their belts. Both had really nice running shoes. Both had loose-fitting jackets. Neither looked like they belonged with the other… ill-matched, juxtaposed, they looked, well, ridiculous.
And they most definitely were not stock crew.
The older guy, greying hair, he’d had a military cut at one point. Although his hair was still short, it was obvious he’d let it grow out. He was dressed in jeans and a long-sleeve, button-down shirt. The clothes were wrinkled, but not the wrinkled of a careless person. It was the wrinkled clothing of a person who has no real memory of what wrinkled looks like. It didn’t help he had a demeanor, a straightness of the back, a bending slightly at the knee as he shifted weight subtly from one foot to the other. Ready to move at a seconds’ notice. Not unlike a cop, or an ex-marine?
The twenty-something had longish blond hair. And, even his hair didn’t fit the scene. He’d let it grow out. He also had a demeanor I was accustomed to… A slouch, a Prozac calmness. In the background of his attempted alertness to the situation, there was a remnant of a careless reverie. Hmm… Ex-Navy? His chosen disguise drew even more attention to the thrown-together, pony-tail, hairstyle. He was dressed uncomfortably as a hipster. The cellphone case a blaring warning-light of not right.
They hadn’t noticed me yet. I casually passed them and glanced down the aisle so interesting to the younger one.
A lady, in full hijab was shopping. She wasn’t wearing the usual dark, black clothing.
I’ve noticed a trend in what is considered ‘oppressive’ clothing like the hijab, meant to subdue and repress pride and expression.
If you want to know something about the person hiding beneath a hijab? Look at the cloth. The texture. Does it have a tinge of color? These observations will tell you a lot about who is beneath. Anything from variations in adherence to religious dogma (what sect), to the socio-economic status of the wearer.
This lady, the source of interest in our ‘security types’ was middle aged, well kept. The cloth of her hijab perfectly ironed, and smooth, it wasn’t pure silk, but there were elements in there… It had a shimmer of color. A maroonish tinge woven in that reflected nicely off of the tungsten lighting overhead. This woman? She had Money.
I went down the next few aisles, pondering the situation…
Maybe they’re her security?
I almost huffed out loud. Right. I wrinkled my nose and thought, well, they’re terrible at it… I would SO fire them.
I tossed a package of tissues in the cart for effect.
As I perused the list for the next item, it occurred to me… are they militia? Even the possibility caused me alarm.
Holy crap. Are they tailing this poor woman, just doing her grocery shopping?
It was post-election time.
I was morally obligated to intervene. Forget the list. This was important!
Resolute, I circled my cart around, heading back. Intent on intercepting her. And, if need be, telling her to fire her security guards.
She had worked her way around to the next aisle and was reading the back of a box, her manicured, but unpainted fingertip tracing a path. The woman looked up and smiled politely, briefly. We traded nods as I neared her. I was considering how to broach the subject, hoping she spoke English… but… in the midst of it…
I turned my gaze towards the men standing at the end of the aisle. The younger guy was there, leaning in… his reaction told me all I needed to know.
Our eyes met, for only a millisecond. He darted back around the end cap. When I neared the end of the aisle, they began to fidget, moving boxes and cans…
I moved the cart over to the far left of the aisle, and kept my eyes locked on the endcap area… deciding what I would say to them, or do… my jaw set, teeth clenched. I felt my face flush red with anger.
Backs straight, they avoided my glare. They looked around, any direction but mine. I had the sense if they thought it wouldn’t draw more attention, they would be whistling an ‘I’m-not-doing-nothing’ tune.
As I neared the end of the aisle, I turned the cart towards them… they turned away and began walking down the main aisle, one on each side of the display dividers.
I followed them, pushing my cart, purposefully, all the way to the front of the store.
Just before they got to the registers, they split up. Going opposite directions out the doors.
That’s what I thought.
I finished my shopping that day, knowing at least one more immigrant was safe.