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Slices of Life By Jill Pertler

February 5, 2013

Thieves and big screens that go pop in the night
TVs have been on my mind lately. I’m not normally much of a TV person. Of course I watch TV, but I don’t often contemplate the TV I’m watching. I like to keep the activity as brainless as possible.  

This week all that changed when I witnessed two TV-related incidents I’d never seen before. The first involved a crime; the second an explosion.  

It started on an ordinary Tuesday. I was minding my own business while venturing on a commonplace errand to the superstore; we were out of milk. As I walked into said store, a man walked out. He didn’t hurry,  exactly. It was more like he tried to hurry without coming across like he was hurrying, you know?

  In his arms, he carried a large flat screen TV – in the box. Without a cart. Without a store clerk helping him. Without a receipt taped to the box, like they tend to do.

  Let’s just say I had a gurgle in my gut; something seemed off about the guy with the 32-inch flat screen TV in his arms trying hard not to appear as though he were rushing to get out of the store.

  I contemplated the guy and the situation for a couple of seconds. I knew something was amiss, but I continued my entrance into the store because most of us aren’t that good at listening to our guts, are we?  

Before you could say “high definition,” two store detectives came upon the scene – presumably following the man with the TV. They were rushing – and not trying in any way to hide it. I recognized them as detectives because they wore button-up shirts and ties. Hardly anyone goes to the superstore in a shirt and tie so I surmised they weren’t in it for the milk. Their crisp shirts lacked one important accessory: a store nametag. Hence I identified their deeply undercover status.

  One detective swept past me with a whoosh of air, going toward the parking lot. The other glanced outside, mumbled an expletive I’m sure he didn’t intend me to hear, and hustled his Dick Tracy behind into the secret room every store has near its entrance.  

The guy with the TV had vanished. I had a good idea where. A car (a.k.a. getaway vehicle) had been parked along the front of the store. A driver (a.k.a. accomplice) sat in the car waiting to make the fast exit, not to mention some fast, flat-screen cash.  

Even though my hands trembled for an hour afterward due to the stress and excitement of the situation, I felt pretty good about the competence with which I observed the crime. Until I talked with my husband.

  “What did the guy look like?” he asked.

  I paused before answering, hoping to conjure up an image of the TV thief who’d walked no more than five feet in front of me. I thought maybe he had brown hair. Maybe curly. Maybe he wore glasses. Then again, maybe not.  

“How about the get-away vehicle and driver,” my husband asked. “Did you get a look at them?”

  “Yeah, I guess,” I said, thinking for sure the driver was a man – if not a woman. The vehicle, I thought was a car, or it could have been a van.

Bottom line? I’d make a terrible witness. The only thing I remembered for sure? The TV was a 32-inch model. I couldn’t even tell you if it was plasma or LCD.

  Our TV at home, however, I can identify with exact precision. I conducted extensive LCD HD research before choosing the behemoth big-screened beauty. I may not have access to the remote (I live with four guys), but I can recite model number and key features.

  I can also tell you with exact precision the moment our TV blew up. This happened last Saturday, right before some big football game. We were watching, and suddenly (and I do mean suddenly) we heard a couple of pops and the screen went blank. Within seconds, the undeniable scent of an electrical burn filled the room. My husband and I exchanged glances like only a married couple can when their nearly brand new TV explodes right before the big game.

  We got out the warranty, fingers crossed and hoping. Our TV was returnable up to 90 days after purchase. We counted on the calendar. We’d had our slim screened beauty…87 days. And (praise be) we’d kept the box. My husband and I headed to the superstore to make the exchange. It all went without a hitch and we turned to go. As we left the store that day, my husband carried a large flat screen TV in his arms and I experienced an eerie sense of déjà vu.  

Except I had no need for nerves or panic. My husband wasn’t being chased by security guards and he held the receipt in a prominent location in his right hand. As for me, I held a prominent position myself. I was in charge of driving the get-away vehicle.  

Well, not really, but it sounds exciting. Almost like something they’d put in TV.  


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