She messed with the wrong person though because as she was running out the door, clutching our precious toys under her grungy plaid shirt, I yelled to her from the doorway of the store, "Don't think I'm going to forget what you look like!"
And I haven't.
That first incident was way back before last Christmas and she's since come back in the store a few more times. Usually she walks through, sees I'm working, and doesn't stay too long. But this past Monday she returned with two friends in tow. Now here's the thing, we can refuse service to anyone. I have the right and the power to ban her from the store, but I choose not to do that for two reasons:
1. I really like to give people the benefit of the doubt, especially teenagers. (My son has been treated very rudely by store employees for no other reason than that he's a teenage boy and it's totally okay to discriminate against teenage boys. I get it, teenagers can be rude and are a pain in the ass, but you know what, so are a lot of old people and we still have to be nice to them. So unless they directly interfere with business, I do my best to treat teenagers with kindness and the respect I would show any other customer.)
2. Actually banning the girl from the store would involve direct confrontation of the most negative kind, and I really try to avoid that at work. People in all types of jobs have gotten shot over less.
Back to this past Monday. She must have felt empowered with her friends by her side because she hung out in the store a long time. They rode around on our demo scooters and played with our pretend food, with me standing next to them and looking over their shoulders like an annoying child. Then they sat at the construction table and proceeded to build with blocks for at least 15 minutes. There were no other customers in the store so I stood leaning against the counter so that I could see nothing else but them.
But that got so boring and I still had other work I needed to complete before I left for the night. I walked over to construction and said, "Okay kids, I'm going to have to ask you to leave now." They looked up at me and asked why.
To which I wearily replied, "Because at least one of you has stolen from us before and honestly I just don't have the time to stand here and make sure it doesn't happen again."
There was a collective, "Oh, okay" amongst the trio and they left without incident. The weird thing is, I know this gal will be back. She has got to be the nerviest high schooler I have ever met.
(Because I think it needs to be said: Teenagers aren't the only ones who steal. A lot of our thievery issues are with mothers. Mothers with strollers, mothers with teenagers, mothers with a lot of kids, mothers with only one. Thieving assholes come in all shapes, sizes, and ages.)