My Troubles With Clothing Tags

I’ve stopped for suspected shoplifting three times in the past two years. I was innocent, but I understand.

by Ellen Lambert • Member { View Profile }
Photograph: iStock

One of the grand rewards I grant myself after an especially robust session of closet cleaning is the purchase of an item or two of something new. Usually I’ll get a staple piece — another black skirt or pair of black trousers to replace the ones where the hem fell out or those that changed sizes in the closet.
So I was delighted to pick up a nice, needed, black pencil skirt at 65 percent off, and I looked forward to wearing it today. I was doing my 360 spin in front of the closet mirror, just to make sure I wasn’t sporting a Minnie Pearl-esque prize tag, when I saw it — a hard-as-a-rock, not-getting-it-off-with-an-acetylene-torch, white plastic security alarm sensor. This sucker was so thoroughly attached to both sides of the fabric that I’m not sure it can be removed. Dang, this baby is so big it could set off an alarm at a missile silo. I’m really surprised I wasn’t stopped at the door when I walked out with it.

It wouldn’t be the first time.

 I’m not proud of this, but it’s a fact: I’ve been stopped for suspected shoplifting three times in the past two years. Now, to be clear, I am not a shoplifter, and I haven’t taken anything from a store that didn’t belong to me without paying for it. (We’ll leave my penchant for office supply kleptomania out of this. “Whoops! That’s YOUR pen?”

) The first time I was stopped I could sort of understand. I bought all my clothes from a small chain store in town and walked into that same store one day wearing a brand new outfit I had just bought from them a couple of weeks earlier. Apparently, my failure to remove the price tag from the blouse coupled with the fact that it was hanging outside of my shirt alerted their security staff. “But, I can explain,” I cried, producing my receipt from my purse. 

The other two times there is no explanation other than I must have that swarthy appearance — short blonde women of a certain age have. It must be the same profile that attracts all the attention of the airport security screeners every time I fly. “You, there! Please step over here.” I’ve come to expect it.

 Still, the whole process of being stopped and unjustly accused is irksome. Come on, do I really look suspicious? I was hoping for worthy – of a second glance perhaps, or just a moment’s notice. I mean, who really wants to be invisible? 


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