February 24, 2021 – Tales from a Thrift Shop.

If you’re ever bored one day and want to ‘liven things up’, take a drive over to your nearest thrift shop. Thrift shops serve as veritable dumping grounds for unwanted ‘stuff’. I go as a means of entertainment but I also go with the hope that I can find yet another interesting mug to add to my collection. Years ago, I got lucky and found an old Gary Larson mug that was in pristine condition. I absolutely love Gary Larson! It’s been my go-to mug for at least 6 years; however, someone (I’m not naming names) chipped it recently while placing it in the dishwasher. I don’t usually get upset about material things but that really bummed me out. Each time I’d lift it up in order to take a sip of tea, it always made me smile. Oh, well. Maybe I’ll find another someday. Anyhow, I was talking about thrift shops. Yes, they carry nearly anything and everything your heart might desire. They also tend to attract some ‘interesting’ folks.

There are people that show up daily, others that come a couple times a week, still others that stop by 2-3 times each month, and then there are ‘the rest’. I suppose I’m among ‘the rest’ because I rarely go. I have enough ‘stuff’ as it is and I’m trying to wean myself off buying more tchotchkes. It’s just one more thing to ‘dust’. Among the people that frequent thrift shops, along with the hoarders and shoplifters, there are a few oddballs. Since I worked alongside the folks that were actually employed at the thrift shop (that was part of the senior center), I’ve had the ‘misfortune’ of meeting a few of these ‘fine’ folks or, at the very least, hearing about them. By oddballs, I’m not referring to the parents that let their kids run around untethered and treat the toy section as if it’s their own personal toybox. That includes not picking up after themselves and leaving everything in disarray.

As much as that annoys me, I’m not referring to them. I’m also not referring to the hoarders, although there are some unusual characters that fall into that category. Most of the time they’re very pleasant and they’re also fantastic for business because they love to shop, shop, shop and buy, buy, buy. In fact, I nearly became one of them not so long ago. Thank goodness I snapped out of it before I drained our bank account and filled our house up with a bunch of crap we didn’t need. It’s a slippery slope once you start down that path and if you know what’s good for you, take my advice and steer clear. With regard to shoplifters, as surprised as I am by the number of them and how brazenly they act, I still wouldn’t call them ‘oddballs’. I would call them reckless and/or dumb, especially since there are people and security cameras everywhere.

I don’t know if people have just gotten used to ‘surveillance’ but they don’t even seem to care. It’s as though there is no longer any concern for consequences. And maybe that’s because my old boss never had any of them arrested. He would just stand and watch them on the monitors, as they filled up their bags with goods, and then before they’d head out the door, he’d wait outside. As soon as they exited the thrift shop (after bypassing the cashier), he would walk directly up to them and confront them. After chewing out the shoplifter, once the items were handed over, he would inform them that they were ‘no longer welcome’. But he never called the cops and I don’t think any of shoplifters had the nerve to return. My old boss could be really intimidating when he’d get mad. He was a career Army guy, and a retired colonel, so he’s good at laying down the law.

There was one time when a woman came in and was so unbelievably brazen in her attempt to walk off with a large quantity of stolen goods, it was actually impressive. I kid you not, she entered the store and walked immediately over to the luggage section. Once she had found a suitable suitcase, large enough in size to store her bounty, she immediately started filling it with random items. Never once did she try to hide what she was doing. When it was completely full, she closed it, stood up with the suitcase in hand, and proceeded straight for the exit door. My boss, of course, was waiting outside. The thrift shop staff had alerted him as soon as they saw her loading up the suitcase. As per his routine, he confronted her once she exited the building and after she handed over the suitcase with the loot, he gave her a stern warning and told her never to return. I have to say, those folks got off easy. Not everyone is that nice.

Yes, I know, I still haven’t gotten around to the ‘oddballs’. I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. One of the ones that really stands out, I’d like to put in the ‘peeper and creeper’ category. The name he was assigned was ‘The Sniffer’. As much as I would rather not come out and divulge the details because they’re extremely disgusting and pervy, he had a thing about sniffing the crotches of young ladies panties. I know, I nearly gagged myself after writing that. These were not brand new panties, mind you. These were used panties that had been laundered. As vehemently opposed as I personally am to any stores selling used undergarments, the thrift shop that I was associated with was not (despite me trying to convince them otherwise). I find it beyond disgusting to wear anything someone else has worn directly over their genitalia. Yuck. Needless to say, this guy could spot those things a mile away, and when he found them, he would get low to the ground and sniff away.

There was another guy in the ‘peeper and creeper’ category that loved to stand adjacent to the dressing rooms and watch as people came and went. Frequently, a female would go in to try on clothes and then have a ‘friend’ wait directly outside to hand off or exchange clothes with. The female inside the dressing room was often in a state of ‘undress’, so each time she’d open the door to exchange clothes with her ‘friend’, Mr. Voyeur would get his jollies. Gross. The staff discovered him doing this on numerous occasions. I think he eventually got banned. In another dressing room ‘encounter’, a woman went in to use the dressing rooms and after she tried on a top and decided she didn’t like it, she took it off, opened the dressing room door, and started milling about the aisles in her bra. The manager had to ask her to put a top back on; the woman appeared completely oblivious. I found the whole thing pretty humorous. Come on, who does that??!!

There’s never a dull moment for the folks that work at thrift shops. If the shoppers aren’t keeping them on their feet, going through the assortment of donations certainly does. They have seen it ‘all’. Remember, thrift shops often serve as dumping grounds and though most people know better, occasionally someone will ‘donate’ their garbage. Of all the disgusting things they’ve received over the years, one item stands out among the rest. Are you ready for it? For a hint, it’s something Bob Marley, Justin Bieber, Toni Morrison, Johnny Depp, Jason Momoa, and Whoopi Goldberg have (had) in common. If you guessed ‘dreadlocks’, you are correct! Yes, someone thought it was a good idea to shave off their dreadlocks and donate them to the senior center thrift shop. Wrong! Bad idea!! I would love to meet the person that did this. I have a suspicion that he or she makes a lot of bad decisions and could use some help.

For you folks that are uncertain as to what to do with your hair when you tire of it, throw it in the garbage or donate it to ‘Locks of Love’. Do not donate it to your local thrift shop. They don’t want it. They don’t want your hair or your toenail clippings or your baby’s dirty diapers. And since the thrift shop that I was associated with continues to gladly accept used undergarments, on my behalf, I ask that you don’t donate those either. ‘The Sniffer’ doesn’t need any more encouragement. Thank you so much for stopping by. For the folks that are ‘following’ me, I am grateful for you and the continued interest you have in reading my blog. I’m no poet laureate or anyone with significant credentials to speak of but I do enjoy the opportunity to share things about my life and family or to just make simple random observations. I love to write and I try to infuse humor into everything I do and I hope I was able to make you smile. If all goes well and I haven’t run you off, I trust you will return tomorrow as will I.

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