The holiday rush is on. The weekends flood the stores with shoppers. The entire mall is buzzing with people. I pass a couple of cute Asian girls on their way to the Victoria’s Secret behind me. Ilook at the curvy one right in the eyes. She looks me back, giggles to her friend, smiles. I let a slight smile slip through. Her friend elbows her and they giggle past me.

I walk towards a kiosk. The sales girl there has been approaching plenty of people and nobody’s biting. She searches for her next victim, but the look on her face is one of spending a day of disheartening disappointments. She looks at me briefly. I give her a warm smile and begin squaring my shoulders slightly towards her. She approaches me with a smile of her own. She looks tired. Her blond hair glistened under the lights, but there was no sparkle in her eyes. For a young girl, she seems pretty beaten down. She tries to sell me this warm scented massage pad of some sort. I turned the tables on her and started chatting with her. I end up giving her a quick crash course on sales. She tells me I’m really smart, and I tell her I have to get going. She surprises me by taking my hands when she thanks me, her hands lingering for a second as I part.Weaving in and out of thick crowds, consisting of groups, some small, some large, some meandering, some rushing to a specific destination, I reach my own destination. Macy’s. I walk in through the entrance. There is a loss prevention lady here. I discreetly take note of the name on her silver tag. I decided to loiter around though. I take interest in a rather ugly peacoat made from some company that usually does hip-hop style clothing. She was gave directions to an old Hispanic woman who does’t really understand the complicated directions. After the old woman leaves, an employee walks up to her. She calls her Joanie, different from what was on her tag.In my pocket is a lottery ticket: a vague receipt that lists onlyan itemthat is called MENS LEATHER, underneath it a string of numbers. The price: $133.50. I headed straight for back of the store where they kept the men’s accessories. I found the bag that matched mine, just in case. I chose one that didn’t have all the plastic and cardboard they stuff into display models. I made my way to the escalators and took them one flight up. Looking for a cash register that was busy wasn’t hard. I was on the women’s floor and it was bustling with activity. I look for a cashier who is somewhat harried, but not too busy to tell me to fuck off. A friendly looking Hispanic girl with wavy black hair seemed ripe for the picking.

I take the crumpled receipt out of my pocket and approach her from the side. I catch her attention and I very quickly explain how they forgot to take out the security tag last week when I first bought the bag. I tell her I’m beeping everywhere I go, and she laughs. I tell her I didn’t have time to come in until now, and Joanie told me I could just come straight here and ask you to take care of it.

Bingo. Compliance achieved. She tells her customer that this would just take a second. I open the bag and show her the tag is still attached. She apologizes for the mistake, telling me it gets really crazy around the holidays. I tell her it’s quite alright, I understand. The tag is in a hard to get spot, and she is having trouble taking it off. I joke that she’s doing very well. She laughs and says that she hates that they put it in such an awkward spot. Finally, she gets the tag off and I take my bag back.

I could’ve walked out with a duplicate bag, or any other bag for that matter. They couldn’t possibly know what bag I’m supposed to have without scanning something. I could’ve taken any leather bag in that store and convinced the girl to take off the tag for me. Instead, I went to another floor and dropped it off discreetly. After all, I’m no thief. I just enjoy thinking like one.