When Bad Things Happen in Good Places (or "When I Was Robbed at Target")

It all started when I broke a nail.

Last Saturday, I destroyed my fingernail in one of the most painful, tiny injuries a person can sustain. I’ve been nursing it back to health over the last several days… mainly through the committed use of band-aids. (I learned an important lesson about “re-tearing” while changing a crib sheet.)

I’m rarely at Target at 9:30 am on Wednesday, but since it’s Spring Break (and apparently my two-year old gets “Spring Break” at her preschool, so I am off work to hang out with her)… there we were. And lo and behold, they are restocking the Band-Aid aisle! (Yeah, I’m dramatizing this story too much when that statement receives an exclamation point…)

Eight carts blocked my unencumbered view of the myriad of adhesive bandage choices, so I parked Ella at the end of the aisle and headed in. She talks non-stop, so we were pretty much in constant communication, I could see her, and I was only about six feet away.

When I returned to the cart… mission accomplished… Ella looked at me and said, “Mama Purse! Mama Purse!”

Per usual, I casual repeated her words without much thought… but then I thought about my purse. I looked in the cart. Past the sippy cup and half-eaten baggie of Veggie Straws. Past the rubber stress ball and its unglued pair of eyes that Ella removed and has promptly carried around for two days. Past the slowly unraveling skein of yarn we’ve been taking everywhere, affectionately calling “Yarn Ball.” And… where on earth was my purse?

Two thoughts went through my mind. “Maybe I left it when I did my return” and “If someone took my purse, they have my car keys.” All the while with the underlying terror that someone may have stolen something out of my cart with my daughter sitting inches away.

Rushing towards the front, my adrenaline was pumping and I was trying to look around our chaotic cart of toys and snacks to see if it was truly missing. Cruising past the make-up aisle, what do I see but some guy holding my purse and going through my wallet! (A more appropriate use of the exclamation point…)

“Dude! That’s my purse!” I shout at him, rushing forward. He had unleashed my Mama Bear instinct, my former daycare worker disciplinarian, and my general outrage over the sheer inconvenience of having someone steal your wallet.

I was grabbing my belongings out of his hand while he tried to quickly stuff my wallet back into my purse while mumbling, “Sorry.” Sorry? Are you kidding me? This didn’t accidentally happen!

As he casually strolled towards the exit (I mean, seriously… he was chatting on a cell phone), I followed him while frantically searching through my purse to see if anything important was missing before he left.

“Did you take my phone?” I shouted at him across the registers while people now took notice.

“No. This is mine,” he said, slightly annoyed and holding up his phone to prove me wrong or something.

I just remember responding, “Don’t talk to me like I’m annoying you. You stole my purse!”

That’s when a cashier went to summon the security guard. He dutifully approached my frantic self, trying to calm me and ask a couple questions. What I really wanted was for him to chase down and tackle the guy, who was still casually sauntering out of the store. But I’m not sure I ever actually said, “It was him! That guy right there!” once help arrived.

All in all, it turned out uneventful. Nothing was taken best I can tell (and really…in my purse it’s a toss up…maybe he got away with a couple peanuts). When the security guard asked me if I “felt safe walking to my car” all I could respond was “oh, I still have some things I need to get.”

In all this drama, I’m impressed by Ella’s ninja-like awareness. I would have never noticed until we went to check out if she hadn’t alerted me to the situation at hand. “Mama Purse!”

I have had strangers warning me for years about leaving my purse unattended in my cart. Maybe now I will have to heed their words.

Have you ever had something stolen from your cart? Or been robbed in a public place?

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  1. I am so glad to see this is an entry. However, I was hoping it would be titled something more like, "my crime fighting daughter," though I love her being referenced as a ninja. Perfectly accurate description.

    It should also be noted that I told our mom she needed to call you. She was very curious. I told her that you had a dramatic story to tell. She pressed me further and I resisted. Then she said, "is it a potty training story?" To which I snickered to myself and said no. (Hardly!)

  2. Wow! I am glad you got your purse back! Good job Ella :)

  3. Ella is truly the hero in this story. Thanks to you both for the shout outs to her!

  4. rediet10:17 PM

    So, once my purse was overstuffed and wasn't zipped up. I had a stranger reach in my purse...just to teach me a lesson.

  5. Wow. That's bold! I have had strangers chastise me for standing too far from my cart with purse inside. Although, now I guess I should admit they were sort of right!


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