One afternoon last week, my mother-in-law Cleo was at work in her cosmetic studio/clothing boutique in downtown Tuna, just as she has been six out of the seven days of a week for the past 25 or more years. Memaw is 81-year-old and puts in six days a week.
Two gals game in together and looked around. Cleo had not seen them before and welcomed them into the store and showed them around. One of the gals requested a makeover and Cleo gladly obliged. She sat her down at the makeover counter and began showing her all the latest colors, lotions and potions while her friend waited for her in the “husband’s chair” near the fitting rooms.
Cleo said the gal at the makeover counter seemed a bit distracted and kept turning the mirror in an odd direction, complaining about the light, but Cleo didn’t think too much of it because in fact, the lighting in the store leaves something to be desired. Then suddenly and without warning, the gal and her friend decided they had to go. And they took off.
Oh well, Cleo thought, no sale, but that’s how it goes.
About an hour later the credit card company called Cleo saying there was suspicious activity on her credit card and they wondered if maybe it had been stolen. She said, no, her purse was right here under her desk in the store and she went to get it. And it was there but her wallet was gone.
In less than an hour, the two gals had gone shopping at Wal-Mart to the tune of several thousand dollars.
Cleo said she just felt sick to her stomach. Everything including her social security card was in her wallet. She couldn’t even think of what to do first or whom to call, so she ran right out of the store and two doors down to the 1st National Bank of Tuna for help.
Together, Cleo and the bank manager called all of her credit card companies and reported the cards stolen. The manager also knew to put a fraud alert on her credit record. They took care of her, they went beyond the minimum. AD called and thanked them for looking out for his mama.
The police on the other hand. Two of the bank tellers in the drive through had seen the gals drive a way in a white car with Missouri plates. The police were called with this information right away but they couldn’t check it out right now because they were in the middle of a shift change. Feel free to go back and re-read that last sentence in case you think you read it wrong. In the middle of a shift change. Apparently Barney had to pull the bullet out of his pocket and hand it over to his other brother Barney and this takes some time.
The Wal-Mart manager was even less helpful than the police. Not his problem. Did not not care. Could not be bothered. So much for pro-active loss prevention.
Cleo said that for two nights she couldn’t sleep. She felt so violated and kept replaying the events over in her mind. She kept wondering what else was in her wallet that she had forgotten about. She wondered how this could have happened. She wondered what she could have done differently. She is alternately angry and scared but mostly exhausted. She wasn’t physically hurt in any way and for that we are grateful, but mentally she is bruised and battered and that makes me spitting mad.
There’s got to be a special level of hell for people who violate and take advantage of old people and children.
There’s just got to be.