Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Put the money in the bag

Years ago, when I foolishly entertained the thought of my daughters going to college on an athletic scholarship, my oldest took a shine to tennis. Mind you, she had never hit a tennis ball in her life. But as sports go she liked the individual nature of the game.

Turns out we Siegels are not big on Team activities.

It also turns out that our natural athletic abilities came from the shallow end of the gene pool. That said, there was no need for me to invest in a titanium/graphite tennis racket strung with the guts of the endangered North Afghani Emu.

Nope, a cheapo plasticky thingamajig would do, so I sauntered down to Sepulveda Blvd., a mile from my house, to the local Big 5.

Big 5, for those not in the know, is the shabby home to low grade Taiwanese-made sporting goods. The merchandise is crap. The environment is crap. The service is crap. But the price is just right.

I selected a pinkish-tinted racket autographed by Bobby Gene King and made my way to the counter. As luck would have it there was a line. It inched ever so slowly to the cashier, who, I was to find out, was working her very first shift at Big 5.

It turned out to be a memorable one.

15 minutes later, I was second in line.  But I wasn't leaving with a brand new tennis racket for my little girl. Because the shortish fellow in front me stepped up to the newbie cashier and mumbled...

"Put all the money in a bag."

Whoa, I thought, half expecting Ashton Kutcher to jump out from the aisle selling shitty snorkel gear. I was in the middle of a robbery.

The cashier's face turned white. She literally went into shock and could not move. The assistant manager was right behind her. He sprung into action and nudged her to the side. Her jaw never closed. As he was complying with the robber and stuffing a plastic bag with ones and fives, I looked down to see if the guy had a gun.

It didn't appear he did.

He was standing within a foot of me, so naturally I sized him up. He was shorter than me. And about 50 lbs. lighter than me (and who isn't?) For a split second I considered bowling him over and taking him to the ground. In high school I once surprised myself and successfully pinned one of our star wrestlers to the mat.

Then I thought, "wait a minute, I'm not gonna risk my life so some large corporation doesn't lose $47.32."

I wisely decided to abort. And walked away empty-handed but with a valuable experience.

As I mentioned, I don't believe he actually had a gun. More frightening however is the possibility that some yahoo, buying a volleyball or a croquet set, did. I know the NRA likes to say, "the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Well seeing that I was within 12 inches of the bad guy, who may or may not have had a gun, it all begs the question, what if the good guy with a gun doesn't have his glasses?

A searing reminder that the solution to our gun problem is NOT more guns.

However, in hindsight, I wonder how it all would've turned out if instead of the tennis team my daughter wanted to play for the softball team, and instead of a tennis racquet I would have been wielding a Louisville Slugger.

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