My oldest is having some friends stay tonight so I can get the group of them to school tomorrow for band practice. They have a competition and need practice since they had Fall Break and a few other glitches in their practice schedule. SO, because teenage girls eat as much as teenage boys(I'm finding out), we had to take a trip to the grocery for some essentials. We saw my cousin and exchanged some pleasantries. As we were talking, I kept seeing people from church and school and soccer. She started calling me "Mrs. Kroger" which cracked me up. It is kind of my only true weekly social time. I love the staff like family and, since it is a neighborhood store, we always see someone we know there. My cousin and I parted ways even though we knew we would meet up in one section or another. S and I had picked up fruit salad makings for breakfast in the morning and had made our way to the chip aisle. I was about to send her on a task to get some ice cream, when we heard a lady yelling. "Somebody stop him!!!!! He took my wallet!!! I have kids to support...help me!!!". The next thing I know, a man starts running towards me and then makes a sharp right and heads down another aisle. To be totally honest, I thought, well, it is a Friday and lots of weird stuff happens. Maybe they are a couple of friends just being crazy. Uh wrong. He clearly had a woman's wallet in his hand and was booking it. Once he hit the new aisle, he hit a roadblock with a rather large gentleman standing in front of his wife and baby. The man did a 180 and ran back the way he came and headed towards us again. He dropped the wallet at my feet, turned and ran down another aisle towards the Starbucks. The poor girl grabbed her wallet off the ground, got her cart and continued shopping. My child was understandably freaked out. She and I continued on down the row towards the girl who was wiping her eyes and trying to concentrate on crackers. I went up to her and asked her if she was okay and if I could do anything for her. She was shaking, but said she was fine. Various people came up and checked on her and then commended her on her bravery and her choice to yell and alert the store. A couple of the employees tended to her and took her over towards the Starbucks. I followed because I wanted to tell anyone who needed to know that I saw everything that happened. When we arrived in that section, the wallet stealer was on the ground with what looked to be a good three men on top of him. "Did you get your wallet back?" said one. "Are you okay?" said another. The offender started yelling that he didn't have a wallet and he had never taken one and that he was going to sue all of these men for assault. The different managers were making calls, checking with other shoppers and making sure the girl was okay. I met up with my cousin again and we discussed what we had witnessed. My daughter was disturbed and scared seeing the man on the floor, so I called the hub and asked him to come get her. I had to finish shopping. Also, it was kind of a neat sight. All of the other moms in the store kind of stood like a protective shield around the poor girl, waiting to jump to her defense if she needed it. All of a sudden, a woman and little boy walked into the store. SHe quickly shot a look to the floor and the man yelled, "I didn't do anything! I'm suing them all for assault...I didn't take anything!". The little boy, seeing his grown up in a strange and unnatural position, started crying and looked terrified. Many things started happening. The victim said she would not press charges. The woman with the boy yelled angrily at the man on the floor. Finally, the victim girl attempted to walk towards the woman and child..who quickly walked away. But she was persistent and called her back. They had a conversation...a tough one it looked like. Then the victim girl gave the the girl some money out her rescued wallet. "It isn't much...but you must need it." Then she gave her a hug. A hard, much needed hug. The shield of moms all started weeping. I mean, what would I do? Would I be the bigger person and extend grace to people who needed it? Would I demand he be charged with a crime and tell his finace', his pregnant fiance', that they were all getting sued? Maybe charges would be the best thing for him. If she dropped the charges, would he run down the road to the next store and try it again? Here this woman, a mother who didn't have money to spare, showed God's grace to people when she had every right to display righteous anger. I was so humbled in that moment...humbled and ashamed at my less than kind thoughts. People also extended grace to the fiance' and son. He got some treats and a drink and someone gave them a Kroger gift card. "They're just gonna go buy beer or something with that card!" someone said. Maybe so, but that is not our problem. The kindness was extended. What those people do with that kindness is their responsibility.
In all of this melee, I have learned three things at least:
1. People respond when you scream and the mother network is not one to be trifled with...especially on a Friday afternoon at the grocery store.
2. Do not ever, EVER leave your wallet and keys and phone unattended in your cart. I hate carrying a purse, but it keeps all that stuff together and makes it harder to grab.
3. Don't ever underestimate the goodness and grace in people. We can all take a lesson. As I said before, I am humbled by the kindness this woman showed towards her aggressor and his family. I got my Bible study acted out in real time today.
After all that businees, I am exhausted. Time for bed. Night all...and pray for that little boy. No child should ever have to see their daddy in a position like that. I just pray he has happy dreams tonight.
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