The kids and I have a tradition. Every year, a few days before Christmas I take all the kids to the Dollar Store to buy gifts for each other. We park Moby Dick (the 12 pass van) in front of the store, then they come in with me one at a time, while the others wait in the car, to choose their gifts. This is tedious and time consuming, but it saves me from making the trip 4 different times.
This year we did it a little differently, I had so many errands that I just took one kid with me every time I had to leave the house, and we stopped by the dollar store while we were out.
So today, E and I went out to lunch and then we ran into the Dollar Store. After we spent a very long time pondering the pluses and minuses of hair bows vs. candy, we finally checked out and headed to the door. But lo, we were stopped at the front door and told we could not leave the store.
What? Excuse me? I cannot leave the Dollar Store? Have I entered one of my recurring nightmares where I am forever stuck in a Dollar Store that is playing loud obnoxious Christmas country music?
No, it was worse than that.
The manager, who won’t let me leave the dollar store, but who is himself hanging half out of the open door, proceeds to explain to me the situation.
Apparently, some men robbed the Check and Go place next door, but are now holed up in there, and the police came and told all the stores in the strip mall to not let their patrons exit the stores.
As he was telling me and the other shoppers who had gathered around me this tale, I began to notice an alarming number of police cars gathering in the parking lot. They were aiming guns IN MY DIRECTION!! Okay, to not overdramatize the situation (as you know I would never do) they were not aiming the guns at me, so much as in my general direction. Now, I have spent enough time around my Federal Agent Uncle to know you NEVER want to be downrange from anyone’s high powered rifle, Police or not.
So I took my daughters hand and walked to the back of the store. Everyone else seemed happy to stand at the windows and gawk. Odd, as I am pretty darn sure the Dollar Store did not invest in bullet proof glass. Also the crazy manager was hanging half out of the open door to see what was going on over at the Check and Go where all the fun was happening. I am also thinking this is probably not the best idea.
After I consider how glad I am that the rest of my children are at home as apposed to sitting in the van which is currently halfway between me and armed madmen, I call my husband on my cell phone to apprise him of the situation. He tells me to ask the manager if they have locked the back door. Um, good thinking. When I mentioned this to the manager he gave me a non committal “I think it’s locked” all the while giving me a perplexed look, and I’m sure wondering what the lock on the back door had to do with the present action going on out the front door. Apparently it does not take a high level if intelligence to become the manager of the local Dollar Store.
I was beginning do doubt the safety of remaining in the Dollar Store. From my present position in the back of the store, I could not see much of what was happening in the front, but I could see enough to know that the police were not letting anyone in the parking lot and people were rushing to their cars from the Taco Bell in the same parking lot and getting the heck out of Dodge.
Apparently, while this was happening, a coup of sorts was occurring in the front of the store as the other patrons came to the same conclusion about our safety as I did, and walked out of the front door despite the manager’s requests to the contrary. I decided making a break for it was the best option.
So out the door I go, holding tightly to my purse, my daughters hand and 3 bags of trinkity junk that I really didn’t want to sacrifice my life for. Sadly, I had parked closer to the Check and Go than the Dollar Store, so E and I had to walk (very briskly, but in a non panicky way so as not to scare E) in the general direction of the mayhem, still downrange of high powered weapons, keep in mind. As we got to the van, I told E to hop in the car and get down on the floor.
The whole situation felt quite surreal as I am pulling out of my parking space, dodging police cars and others trying to exit the scene, all while acutely aware that I am downrange from high powered weapons as I may have already mentioned, all while telling my 10 year old daughter to keep her head down, while less than 100 feet from me, there is a standoff going on. I am thinking to myself at this point, “but I live in the suburbs…”
We got home safely, albeit a little shaken. I told my boys this story, thinking they would be totally impressed by my brush with crime and my clear-headedness. Yeah, not so much.
B, commented that if only I had gotten the camera phones for the family that he suggested instead of the old, very uncool model I chose, I could have taken pictures of the entire thing.
So, I learned two things today; my boys will say anything to get that camera phone they want, and I will never again be able to go into a Dollar Store.
Also I am thinking of moving to a compound, far far away from the city (or the suburbs), with a big fence surrounding it. And getting dogs, lots and lots of mean looking dogs.