You may recall that from time to time I mention a girl I've been living with recently (since Roosevelt's first inaugural, if you want to be precise).
Every time this girl returns from a supermarket, she complains that she's been robbed. I take these complaints calmly because they usually refer to a legal form of robbery called inflation. There's no point in calling the cops. l
However, there have been times when my wife really has been victimized by thieves in a supermarket. On one occasion, she was reaching for a piece of meat on a display counter when the woman next to her gripped her wrist lightly and guided her hand toward a different package of meat. "That's better cut," she said helpfully. A few minutes later, my wife discovered that here valuable gold wrist watch, an heirloom, had taken wings, and so had the helpful meat shopper.
Most of the letters I receive abut supermarket thievery do not, as you might expect, relate to purses left unguarded "for just a second or two" in shopping carts. Unguarded purses are in the second place.
The most frequent complaint is from women who were carrying their purses!
When aisles are crowded and shoppers jostle each other frequently, wallets disappear from purses so quickly and silently that their owners are dumbdounded.
They simply cannot believe that somebody could have opened a purse that was looped around their arm and extracted a wallet without disturbing anything else and without being detected. All I can say to them is that they don't have to believe it if they don't want to. But I believe it. The police believe it. And the police have a large file on poeple who are expert at it.
My heart sank a few days ago when my wife returned from the store and announced in an emotional voice, "I was robbed at the supermarket."
I could sense that she was in earnest, but I also noticed she was carrying her purse.
"They got your wallet?" I asked.
"They did not," she said indignantly. "I hold my purse like this." She demonstrated by clutching her pocketbook to her bosom as ferociously as Franco Harris clutches a football when he goes barreling into a defensive line.
"Then what were your robbed of?" I asked.
"All my cents-off coupons," she wailed. "I noticed this old guy hanging around my cart and I just knew he was up to something. He had 'crook' written all over him. I put a double loop of the pocketbook strap around my arm and held the pocketbook very close to me as I reached down to get two cans of soup. When I straightened up, the entire package of coupons was gone from my cart, and so was he, the dirty crook! He took every coupon I had. How can a man be so low? It's going to take me a year to build up that kind of collection again."
Don't worry, dear; he'll be punished. In fact, he probably already has a hernia from lifting that bale of paper.