by Kathryn Banks
Kathie Banks gives us this true story of Miss Minnie,
who (beware, shoplifters!) doth not sleep in that easy chair
and who is quite adept at tripping criminals with her handy umbrella.
Aunt Karen sputtered in exasperation, unable to convince Miss Minnie, her eighty-year-old mother, to move the new spring merchandise to the rear of the store. Other shop owners reported that Minnie had recently taken to falling asleep after lunch in her easy chair located behind the counter of her small town secondhand store. The week before, a teenager grabbed a pair of her new camouflage shorts from the window display and got away before she could identify him.
"Kathie knows I have to put my best stock out front to get the people to come in so I can sell them inventory in the back," Miss Minnie countered Karen's argument, fully expecting me to take her side.
"Mama Minnie, if they keep stealing the expensive stuff it will cut deeply into your profit margin. Maybe you can put a display on a cart near the front door. Then you can roll it by the counter after lunch so if you doze off, the thief will not be able to get it so easily," I replied diplomatically in a futile attempt to remain neutral.
"I was NOT SLEEPING, I was just resting my eyes after lunch!" Miss Minnie retorted in sharp denial with that steely look from deep inside her vast blue green eyes that meant she was not budging an inch no matter what was said.
Aunt Karen and I both shut up for the moment. I was desperately trying to think of a proposal that would keep her from being robbed blind and not compromise her dignity in the process. I was also partial to not getting my head snapped off again. Miss Minnie's defiant posture told me she intended to do exactly as she pleased. I was unable to think of an acceptable solution on the spot.
"You girls know I was making good money selling this junk long before you were born. I taught YOU everything you know and YOU KNOW I'm right!" She steamed on as she pointed her wrinkled finger in my direction. I just nodded my head in humble agreement.
I spent childhood Saturdays in the 1960s in that shop. Minnie really knew how to work a crowd. If she could get the customers through the door, they would not leave without at least one treasure uncovered from the menagerie of items carefully displayed for sale.
"We came in here this morning with two dollars in change and we are leaving with twenty-five. That's a twenty-three dollar profit, less the rent and light bills. Most people are out there spending their time and money on a Saturday morning. We are in here making it! Lets go get an ice cream before dinner," she said to me after we counted the money in the cigar box at closing time. My grandmother was never big on the "eat dessert last'" philosophy of my mother.
To make a long story short, Karen and I eventually gave up. The window display did not change except to put out the new merchandise. Miss Minnie had her recliner moved closer to the front door, saying if the thief were bold enough to try again she would trick him into believing she was asleep and then trip him on the way out the door with her umbrella. I had no doubt she would do just that!
The word soon got out on the street. Criminals beware! Miss Minnie prosecutes shoplifters to the full extent of the law!
Kathryn Banks, EdS, is a teacher at Savannah High School, Savannah, Georgia. Reach her at Soundbanks@cs.com.
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