Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Rush

Being a teenager growing up in Airdrie Alberta in the 1990s was pretty brutal. Sure, the super-cool teens were busy on the football team or having unprotected sex with cheerleaders, but I was not a part of that crowd. And for the rest of the kids in their teen years, Airdrie was a barren wasteland.

My parents didn't understand how I could be bored with so much to offer...we had a comic book store, a movie theatre (2 screen microplex), and the iconic Towerlane Mall. But there's only so much time even a geek such as myself could spend in a comic book store. There were only ever two movies playing in any given week, and almost always they were lame family films. And Towerlane Mall was a graveyard. Half the stores were closed and the others were either of no interest to me or too expensive. Speaking of expense, I was living off of allowance and $10 a week didn't go very far. So I was left to my own devices.

Being ADD, I needed a great deal of stimulation to avoid being bored. If anything, it's even worse today! While so many people can sit down and read a book as a source of pleasure, I wouldn't be able to maintain focus on the book, instead reading a page only to find out I didn't really know what I read. Others might take joy from art, and while I was a decent artist (of comic book heroes mostly), I was never satisfied with my work and so I was left frustrated instead of satisfied (that's what she said). Television was a nice way to pass time, but at the time of this story I didn't have my own television and so I was at the mercy of my dad who always chose what channel the television would be on.

Now that I've set the stage, you can understand just how boring a small city was for anyone in their teens, especially anyone like me. And now you can better understand why I did what I shall tell you about now.

In junior high and high school, I had a friend named Curtis. He was a good guy and we hung out a lot. But he was just as bored with Airdrie as I was. One day while we were at a mall (incidentally this was in Calgary), we were in San Francisco (the store). I found a cool pen with a lady on it. When the pen was tipped, her clothes would come off and leave a hot naked lady. I was 15, so even something so mundane made my pants tight. However, I didn't have the money to purchase the pen. I put the pen back and shuffled around the store angrily because I couldn't have my way. Until I realised that I COULD have my way. I returned to the pen and I took it. Walking through the store, I hid it in my pocket and then Curt and I left the store.

The rush is what I liked. I felt something so intense from shoplifting. It was just a $3 pen, but the thrill was worth $1000. Unfortunately, one taste was not enough. I began walking down a dark road.

Curt was something of a partner in crime. I rarely stole anything unless he was around. We always were pretty equal when it came to volume of things stolen as well. On boring days (such as weekends), Curt and I would literally go out to the retail center of Airdrie on a thieving binge. And we were good. I remember stealing playboy calendars from a gas station while the cash attendant was talking and looking at us (I hid them in the back of my shirt). I remember stealing a can of Pringles by sliding it up my sleeve. I remember having Curt distract the employee at a music store while I took a cassette tape (this was when CDs were still in their youth and cassettes were very popular)...sure, a cassette tape is small, but the anti-theft containment device was about three cassette tapes long.

Curt and I would steal anything and everything if opportunity knocked...and the more daring the theft, the bigger and better the rush. I cannot speak for Curtis, but for me it was a definite case of kleptomania. I never really cared about anything I stole. Usually we stole toys and things like that because they were smaller and we could take more, but I would just throw everything into a box in the basement and forget about it. I just liked to steal for the sake of stealing. And it was awesome.

After about two months, our game was really being stepped up. One day after school, my mum drove Curt and me over to Towerlane Mall. She quickly did the shopping she had and then said she was leaving. I told my mum that Curt and I would stay for a while because we were going to "hit the mall." Truer words never spoken. My mum left and Curt and I went batshit with thieving. I was wearing a t-shirt, a denim shirt over it with the denim shirt's buttons mostly undone. The denim shirt was tucked in, and so I was able to put stolen goods into the shirt all the way around my body and it would all stay there until I got home. I then wore a light leather jacket and a heavier Chicago Bulls leather jacket over it. It was November so the layers were not out of place. However, my purpose was not warmth but hiding places. So many pockets were available for me to hide things. On the day in question, I took advantage of EVERY space I had available to me (not THOSE spaces though, you perverts).

After we "hit" the mall, Curt and I began walking back home. On the way, we stopped by Pharmasave, which was obviously a drug store but also something of a small department store. Curt and I walked around the store, checking for cameras (our code when we saw a camera was to say "Have you seen Cam?") and mirrors (our code when we saw mirrors was to say "Have you seen Vladmir?"). We also were checking for floor-walkers. If you are unsure what a floor-walker is, it is a person hired by the store to pretend to be a customer, but actually to watch for thieves. There was a floor-walker present in the store. He was easy to spot for a floor-walker, which isn't saying much as they are usually pretty obvious. He was a younger man alone. He wore expensive brand-name clothes. He was stylish. He didn't belong in that store and even if someone like him was shopping there, he was shopping in the baby supplies aisle and then the candy aisle (both aisles next to the ones Curt and I were in to test him). Those aisles are very different and so why would he be looking in both? If it was a Wal-Mart, it would make more sense, but no one would shop at Pharmasave for such different things. There was a chance that he could have been legitimate, but Curt and I were confident he was a floor-walker.

Knowing our enemy was watching us made the thrill all the greater. Curt and I went to the toy department and split up. We both stole one item quickly and then rejoined before leaving the store. It was just another day, another hit. We walked out together, laughing all the way. However, things weren't meant to be as smooth as we thought. We walked about twenty paces from the door when we suddenly heard a voice behind us. "Excuse me gentlemen...I believe you have something that doesn't belong to you." My heart sank. Busted. We turned around and it was the floor-walker. Curt and I had so much opportunity to run. He couldn't get us both, and I doubt he would even get one of us if we were clever. But we caved. I guess the thrill of running from the law didn't appeal to us.

The floor-walker asshole took us back into the store into the employee area. He requested the items we stole and Curt and I both gave him the items. They were just stupid toys, which made us feel somewhat embarrassed...if I was busted for shoplifting, it should have been something fucking awesome! But stupid toys it was. We sat there for what felt like forever. He made us call our parents and so Curt's mum and her boyfriend came and my dad came. I remember sitting in a chair and leaning over the desk (I was pretending to cry for pity when I was actually just pissed off). My dad said to me "I bet you feel pretty stupid now."

Eventually, a cop came in and arrested us. No cuffs or anything, but we did get a ride in the back of his squad car. All the way to the police station. And that's when the real fun began...

Stay tuned for part two!

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