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      Wrapped In Gray
Chapter One

    I like to think that I make a difference. Here, among the laundry detergent, the coffee filters, the cans of baked beans, I make a difference. On the surface it might seem that my job is no more significant than, say, that of an assembly-line worker, the clerk at your local convenience store-where's that kid going with those candy bars...OK, he's heading towards the register-or some paper-shuffling lackey plodding away in a faceless office somewhere. Really, do they get any sense of satisfaction at the end of the day? I don't think so.

Damn, a can of chili has a lot of sodium in it.

But here, in the goods-packed aisles, I'm making a significant difference. I mean, it's not like I'm saving lives or anything, but I am saving something. Money. And time equals money. And we only have so much predestined time in this world, so I guess you could say that I save lives, or portions of lives. Indirectly anyway.

Now, a lot of people think that security guards are just police academy flunkies, which is true in some cases, but not in mine. I have no interest in joining the police force. Sure, they would have me, and I could easily pass all of the tests and whatnot, but I have some serious issues with the police. Not the idea behind the police, mind you, but the actual police themselves. Every one of those hot shots goes overboard at some point or another, and I'm not into the macho bullshit of it all. I'm in law enforcement for the principle.

Ah, good sale on frozen pizza...

Ever had anything stolen? Me too. Plenty of times. Theft has always been, and will always be, the number one crime in the world. While the majority of people are out there making an honest living, the thieves of the world are working one-hundred-and-eighty-degrees in the opposite direction; leeching right off of the legitimate, hampering progress, trying to get something for nothing.

I've got my eye on you, Mr. Produce Man, you keep away from the beer overstock cooler.

Yep, the world would be a better place if people would just stop stealing from each other. That includes their employers, too. Hell, I have to spend at least as much time watching the employees here as the customers.

Now I've nabbed people of every race, age, sex, religion, hair color, eye color, shape, size, and whatever other distinguishing characteristic you'd like to throw in, at my roaming vigilant post, here in the Sav-Mart. I've caught kids stealing candy, mothers stealing baby formula, even sweet old grandmothers stealing cigarettes. You'd be surprised at how many people don't realize that the guy with the flannel shirt, blue jeans, and beard, who appears to be doing a little shopping, is actually undercover security. That's me.

People come up with the weakest excuses, when you catch them. Like, "Oh, I meant to pay for that," or "I already had that with me," or "It's for my sick mother." A pack of cigarettes and some Hostess snack cakes? Don't insult my intelligence.

Oh God, not "The Girl From Ipanema" again. They gotta get some new muzak in here.

I've been offered sexual favors, drug, even cash money. Honestly, I've been offered bribe money-a guy I caught stealing lip balm desperately offered me the two hundred dollars that he had in his wallet. I'm thinking he had good reason to avoid a run-in with the police. But I never let shoplifters go. Because you know what would happen then. I'd lose my job, and they'd be out stealing from someone else that same day.

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