Have I mentioned that The Andy Griffith Show is a favorite program of mine? The episode with Gomer Pyle shouting “Citizen’s arrest!” at Barney Fife is a classic! Thanks to my germophobic OCD, I had a similar experience not long ago.
The local health food store is one of my favorite places to shop. The first thing I do when I get a grocery cart is spray the handle with rubbing alcohol. I carry a one-ounce spray bottle of rubbing alcohol in my purse, which is as homemade as it gets. I will use it in front of other customers if I have to, but I choose to walk a little way into the store and round a corner before spraying the alcohol. That is what I did on this day, only I was not unobserved. It’s not so unusual for another customer to be nearby, so I actually make a flourish of dropping the tiny bottle into my purse and rubbing my hands together. It should be obvious that I put something on my hands. As far as an observer is concerned, it could be hand lotion. I suppose that could still raise suspicion in a store that sells hand lotion, but I felt that the white-haired lady that day was looking on a bit longer than is typical. I finally looked in her direction, and she moved on.
I went about my business in the store and didn’t think of the woman again. One of the items that I enjoy the most in the store is the freshly-baked bread, so I went to the bread rack after putting bottled water and produce in my cart. I became absorbed in looking at the loaves of bread, searching for the one with the nicest color and even shading. I found the one I wanted and turned to put it in the cart, and the white-haired busybody had her nose in my purse! Not quite literally, but she was close. My purse was in the top compartment of the shopping cart, and she was in the process of lifting her head up from it and turning away when I noticed her. She had stealthily walked up when I had my back turned because she was so certain that I had shoplifted. If she found what looked like a stolen item, would she have shouted, “Citizen’s arrest!”? I was dumbfounded, and now I can say “literally.” (Don’t feel sorry for her thinking that she was an honest, helpful, little old lady because of her hair color. She was a tall woman and appeared to be around 60 years old.) I watched with wide eyes as she walked away, but I couldn’t find any words. I would have mustered up the nerve to say something if we had met in line or elsewhere in the store, but she walked past the checkout counter and right out of the door. I stared the entire time in case she looked back so that she would know that she had been caught. Yes, she was the one who was caught!
I was done shopping and went to the checkout. I felt compelled to mention it to the cashier because the busybody may have done so before she left. I asked if the woman had said anything about me and explained what happened. I also took the spray bottle out of my purse and showed it to the cashier. She didn’t seem overly concerned about the situation and acknowledged that some people won’t mind their own business. If I ever see that white-haired lady again, I’m going to go up to her, take my alcohol spray bottle out of my purse, and ask, “Is this what you’re looking for?”