I had a very long day. A “To Do” list three pages long. Grocery shopping for Easter dinner was top on the list. The original plan was to cook a turkey I still have in the freezer from Thanksgiving, but who am I kidding? Poultry and I just do not do well together, meaning, I will either burn the bird or give my family food poisoning. Spiral ham it is! I can’t really mess that up, can I?
My local grocery store, Winco, was pretty busy. Quickly, I made my way up and down every familiar aisle I knew I needed. Cloves, pineapple, baking potatoes, corn on the cob, salad fixings, dessert and of course, vodka. I mean between you and me, I had no idea what the cloves were for, I just saw some recipe pop up on my Facebook timeline for a ham that called for cloves. We will see how that works out.
I wait in line for what seems like an eternity. When the cashier started to ring my purchase she then put the “closed” sign up on her register. I love when that happens, that means I can take my time and bag my groceries just how I like them to be bagged.
Tiredly, I load my reusable bags into my shopping cart. I was walking pretty slow, eyeing the pizza stand in front of me. Should I buy a 5.00 pizza or just cook the frozen chicken nuggets that were on tonight’s menu? As I am talking myself out of buying the pizza, I noticed something strange.
A man who looked to be in his late fifties was walking in the opposite direction I was heading. I could see him plain as day. He was dressed in business casual attire. A young woman was by his side. This woman looked to be maybe twenty years old if that. This man had his arm around this young woman’s upper arm. It was odd to me. The way he was holding her. The look in his eyes contradicted the vacant look in her eyes. I tried to make eye contact with the woman to see if I could gauge the situation. Her eyes gave nothing away other than empty. She was also chewing gum.
Slowly, I make my way to the exit doors. I do not feel right. Was there a red flag I was missing? I slowly turn around one last time. It looks like they are heading to the restrooms. It all just seemed so weird to me. Something was not right.
I am now in my car, loading my bags into the backseat because I still have Christmas decorations stored in my trunk. In the driver’s seat, I turn the ignition on. The new “Imagine Dragons” song is playing. I like it, although it is not my usual norm. My mind is going. Should I have followed the couple? I mean isn’t that what we are taught, if you see something strange, say something.
My mind is just going. I need to get home but something is keeping me from driving off. Sadly, in my area, sex trafficking is a big thing. I could not stop thinking what if this is what I was seeing? What if this man was taking this woman to the restroom and drugging her up? What if I drive away and not say anything? Wold this woman being on the evening news as a “missing person?” I would beat myself up if that was the case. What if I could potentially be saving a life? Or, saving something.
I turned the radio off, took the keys out of the ignition and made my way back to the grocery store. Not quite sure what I was going to do when I went back inside, but I felt I had to do something. The situation seemed just off.
With my phone in my hand, I debated on if I should call the non-emergency police number. “Look, I know I may sound crazy, but I am at Winco and there is a couple who does not look right, I am not sure if the woman is in any danger, but it may be worth checking out.”
Great, so in my little scenario, I am now telling the police how to do their job. Could I be any more controlling?! Perhaps I should wait until I talk to a manager before calling the police.
But…..what if there was something up. Maybe not sex trafficking, maybe an abusive relationship? I have to do something. Us woman, we have to stick together. Especially in the days of the “Me Too” movement. We have to watch out for each other.
I am now inside the store. I make my way to the pizza counter. The pizza counter is the closest station to the exit doors and where I saw this couple. I get the attention of the cashier on duty. I know he saw the same couple I did. How could he not? If memory serves me correctly, this cashier even did a double take as this couple walked by. Discretely, I call him over. “Hello, Sir. Listen, I know this is going to sound strange, but, I was in here about ten minutes ago. I noticed a couple, and I am pretty sure you saw them too. Older guy, dressed nice, walking with a very young woman. He had his arm around her elbow, so to speak. I just need to make sure the woman is okay. Something looked “off” and I cannot leave here until I know everything is on the up and up. Could you call a manager or someone over? Is this something I should report? I feel I need to report it.”
Pizza Guy looks at me. He looks in the direction of the restrooms, the same direction the couple was headed to. Something as a simple look gives me a sort of validation that I was not the only one who sensed something was off. Okay, we will get to the bottom of this.
“Also, I may want to order a pizza. you know, depending on the situation.”
Pizza Guy looks at me. “I’ll be right back.” he leaves the counter. I assume to make a phone, call a manager over, but he leaves to make a pizza that I was not even certain I wanted. Whatever.
I stand off to the side. Waiting and watching. Although at this point I am not sure where the couple is, I know they did not leave the store. From my vantage point in my car, I was able to see if they left.
My pizza is ready. I throw a five dollar bill and two ones at the guy. He gives me my receipt. “Have a nice day.”
Okay, so what the hell? The pizza was the least of my concerns, what about the couple?
“Excuse me, Sir! yeah, me again! Could you please give me an update on the couple?”
Pizza guy looks at the customer behind me. He may have rolled his eyes. He may have a problem on his hands if he was rolling his eyes at me. Pizza Guy kinda motions me to come closer. Slowly, I lean in. Hoping to hear something.
“Miss, the couple you saw, that was our security. He caught a teenager shoplifting. He took her to the backroom and they are waiting for her parents.”
I needed a moment to register what I was hearing.
I look at Pizza Guy.
I look towards the direction of the restrooms.
I look at my pizza.
“Yes. Is there anything else I can do for you?”
My God, I am an idiot.
“Ummm. Nope! I am good!”
I grab my pizza and head to the “exit doors” just as fast as I can.
One last time, I look back. I mean I am kinda relieved that this is not a sex trafficking situation, but, yeah, I kinda feel dumb right now.
I notice Pizza Guy is on the phone. My bet is he is having security take a picture of me on the cameras…while putting me on the “Do Not Trespass” list.
So, maybe I have been watching one too many episodes of “Cold Case.”