Jake found it difficult to comprehend the mindset of thieves.
Well, not all thieves. People in a Valjeanian situation were easier to understand.
Steal or die.
The choice becomes… somewhat clear at that level of desperation. But the people who would come into a major retail store and use razor blades to open plastic packages and get DVDs without paying for them were more puzzling.
It was merely entertainment, after all. There’s no life-or-death situation in needing, needing to see Avatar instad of watching videos on YouTube or going to the library and checking out a book. Both of which activities are free, to boot.
The thief sauntered up to the checkout point.
A common tactic: Buy something else to throw off suspicion. Very old school. Very classic.
“Welcome to Wal-Mart,” Jake said. “Will this be all?”
“Yup,” the thief answered, casually.
He was purchasing a package of batteries. Pretty cheap, but still heavy enough to sit satisfyingly in the bag while exiting. He knew what he was doing, clearly.
“Did you know that building muscle works by tearing and regrowing the muscle fibers?” Jake asked.
“Is that so?”
“I don’t work out as much as I should, though. The communal showers distress me.”
“I… uh, OK.”
“What do you put on first when you get dressed?”
“Oh, I get it now!” the thief said. “The pattern of questions! You’re trying to see if I’m some kind of athlete. Many athletes are taught, even at very early levels of competition, to put their socks on first when getting dressed. The thinking is that because athletes are so susceptible to foot fungal growth, the socks will isolate a potential infection from the rest of the body. If you put your underpants on first, they could contact the feet. Then they could transfer fungus up to the jock. And that would definitely be debilitating—at least—to a young football or hockey star.”
He rolled his eyes and continued. “I was not an athlete, for the record. I was on my college’s debate team.”
“I don’t care about that,” Jake said. “I was just hoping to distract you until security could get here.”
“What?!” the thief shouted. “I was just—I’ll buy that somewhere else; your prices are too high!”
He turned to run, but collided with the solid chest of the security guard for Wal-Mart #2772, Sector 16-B. The thief began to fall—either from surprise or the impact—but the guard grabbed him by the collar and pulled him upright.
“Um, h-h-hello,” the thief stammered.
The guard made no reply. He only tightened his grip on the thief’s collar and began leading him out of the electronics department.
“They don’t pay me enough for this,” Jake murmured to himself.