Monday, August 22, 2011

A Punk in the 21st Century: Part 2 - False Arrest

Continued from August 18th...

So anyway, Sir Punk's name is Jeremy and he's from Woollongong. He told me that he settled on buying Les Miserables because he played Gavroche in a stage production when he was a kid. We had a great little chat and before he left, I gave him the address of the blog so he could check himself out.

What I didn't give him amongst all the chit chat was his receipt of purchase.

Five minutes later, Janelle from The Other Bookshop came in and picked up one of the classics. She brought it over to me and said, "You didn't just sell a bikie looking guy one of these books, did you?"

Oops! They sell the same edition there and he went into their shop straight after mine. She saw him walk out with the one I'd just sold him and called Security. Oh dear. She hotfooted it back to The Other Bookshop and called Security again to say something along the lines of "Abort! Abort! Mission to apprehend the only punk in North Queensland has been aborted!"

I thought it was kind of funny until about five minutes later when up rocks Mark the Security Guard holding a familiar copy of Les Mis. "You didn't just sell a punk this book, did you?" Obviously, Janelle's message didn't reach them soon enough.

Jeez, YES! I did sell the bikie looking punk a copy of Les Mis. But look, if it's so unbelievable that he would buy the damn thing, why the hell would he nick it?

I said just that to Mark but in a nicer way and he said they were holding Punk Jeremy from Woollongong at the Police Beat office. I felt real bad about it; it was because I got chatting about the blog and Les Mis and all of that that I didn't get him a receipt and he walked out without a bag.

I'm known as a bit of a soft touch in the centre - I'm always saying things like, "I'm not that worried about locking up the shop - who's going to go to the trouble of breaking in to steal books that they couldn't even sell at full price in the first place?"

"Mate!" says Paul, the hardened Security Guy. "Mate, they'd steal anything! They'd steal the sole off your shoe if you walk too slow around here."

I don't think Mark really quite believed me that the guy had bought the book. I think he thought I was having a compassion attack and was lying to protect him. I said, "Hey, I took a picture of the man holding up his book!"

Mark said, "You what?"

I struggled valiantly to make my phone cough up the photo in question - usually I would wait to get The Princess Bookaholic to work my recalcitrant tech gadgets for me but she wasn't around and there was a Punk In Distress being unjustly detained.

I got the photo on screen finally and Mark cracked a smile as he looked at it. "Well, that's proof I guess," he said shaking his head at the oddness of me having a photo of The Punk.

When we got to Police Beat, Paul my other favourite Security Guy was waiting outside the door with a look like thunder on his face. Apparently Jeremy had been somewhat aggravated at being dragged into the cop shop and he and Paul had got their masculinities a trifle ruffled; they were in the midst of a little to and fro-ing involving terms such as 'dick-head' and 'fuckwit'.

Paul was NOT happy to be told he had to let Jeremy go. He looked at me and said, "He bought it???'

Yes. For the hundredth time. The Punk bought a book!

"Bullshit!" said Paul and grabbed the camera off me to have a look. "Ok. Give me the book."

I pulled it out of his reach. "Uh-uh."

"I'll give it back to him," he said in the same tone as he might have used to say I'll shove it up his arse. "I'll give it back to him, no worries - but first I'm going to keep him here for an hour so he misses his bus." He grabbed the book off me.

"You can't do that." I grabbed the book back. 

"Why not? He's being a cockhead!" He grabbed the book again.

"Paul! Because he didn't DO anything!" I grabbed the book finally and irrevocably, held it out of his way and headed into Police Beat. There sat Jeremy in the waiting room, leaning forward, elbows on thighs, gazing sadly at the floor. He looked up at me like I was his long lost mother. I bent over and patted his cheek and said, "Oh, I'm sorry about that! It's my fault I didn't give you the receipt."

As we left, Paul and Jeremy exchanged final little zingers. Dickhead. Prick. That kind of thing. Mark smiled and shook his head.

Outside, Jeremy said, "I was saying to them, 'The lady even took my photo!' They didn't believe me!"

"Well, I can't say I blame them - I don't believe I took it either."

What are the odds that the first time I talk myself into asking a stranger for his photo for the blog that I would need it within half an hour? What are the odds that the first time I have any business whatsoever with security regarding shoplifting that I would have photographic proof to back up a story that Paul was disinclined to believe?

Just before he went off with his book, now in a plastic shopping bag, he said, "I hate it that just because I look like I do, they think I can't read."

He's not worried that they might think he's a thug. Or that he might scare little old ladies with his blue and leopard print mohawk and his safety pinned ears. He just doesn't like it that someone would have the audacity to think he's illiterate! Bless his little cotton wifebeater.

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