I had the pleasure of being accused of stealing from a local grocery store this weekend.
I usually avoid shopping on weekend afternoons because of the crowds. And especially so on the weekend before a major holiday. However, I needed some ingredients for something I was cooking, and I had had to be in the area anyway.
The checkout lines were hellishly long, as expected, but the clerk was so efficient that I got through the express line even faster than I usually get through checkout lines when the lines are much shorter. In fact, I was so impressed by the clerk's efficiency that I went up to the front of the store to find the store manager, and I told him how good a job that clerk was doing.
Of course, no good deed goes unpunished.
I promptly left the store, put my purchases in the trunk of the car, and was about to pull out of the parking lot when I saw that the manager had followed me out to the car. He came up to the window and demanded that I return their shopping basket. I think his actual words were something along the lines of, "We'd like our cart back." I had no idea what he was talking about - I thought he'd said they wanted their "card" back, which made no sense. He repeated his demand, and I realized he was asking for the shopping basket.
As I've previously posted here, I try to use my own plastic shopping baskets when just buying a small number of groceries, to help cut down on the detrimental effects of plastic bags on the environment.
Unfortunately, my basket is the same color as the store's baskets.
I told the manager that the basket was my own; I had bought it.
He asked, "It's yours?" in a very sarcastic tone, with a look as if he couldn't believe I was lying so audaciously.
At this point I completely lost my cool and started yelling at him. I got out of the car and showed him that my basket was larger than theirs (also cleaner, I might add), and did not have the store's label emblazened on the sides the way the store baskets do. He was also able to see that sitting next to the basket in the trunk I had a spare basket exactly like the first one. (Along with a spare paper shopping bag from a competitor grocery store.) At this point he acknowledged that I was right.
Moral of the story, I guess, is that if you decide to use your own shopping basket, get one that doesn't look anything like the ones used by the stores where you plan to use it.
Actually, I am dismayed that the practice of using unnecessary disposable plastic bags has become so deeply ingrained that when someone opts to not use them here, the person is automatically assumed to be a criminal.