Having spent most of my youth working in retail, I got myself into a lot of strange situations involving criminals. Case in point, in 1998, I caught a couple trying to pass stolen credit cards to buy large quantities of Backstreet Boy CDs. While this might sound like an open and shut case, it wasn’t that simple.

It was a sunny Sunday morning. I was late to work, but luckily the flood of rabid Hanson fans had yet to break down Sam Goody’s gate to get the new “Weird” import single. There was only one couple in the store and they looked like they wanted to get out as quick as possible. “Is the new Backstreet Boys album on sale yet?” asked an attractive brunette that barely looked 20. I said “yes,” and she asked for a case of 20 CDs. That was odd, but I figured they were gifts and rang her up. The scary-looking guy she was with shot me a glance that could kill. He was intimidating and I really wanted to move this transaction along. I’m talking Godfather from the Nation of Domination scary.

As any part-time cashier knows, when a credit card comes up “Denied” that means there’s no loot in the shopper’s credit card. “Call” means the bank is doing a spot check for fraud and the customer is a normal, upstanding citizen (they just spent too much that day). Well I shit my pants when the register came up “Hold/Call,” because that means that the customer just murdered someone and I was going to be next. I wrapped my fingers around the patented Sam Goody raccoon taser and proceeded to call the bank.

The lady asked for her card back and I had to say “no.” The man began to yell, ripped off his shirt and ran out of the store screaming something about rabies (or babies, I’m still not sure). All of a sudden, the lady began yelling at me in another language and started biting her left arm. She took flight and ran out the door. Then came the awkward silence as I looked at my manager, Al. He looked back at me and shrugged.

That’s when the invisible voice in my head shouted, “Chase after them, they must not escape!” and I hauled ass out the door While Al called the police. For some dumb reason, instead of running out the front door, the woman ran up the middle of the mall where her male companion was standing in a fountain with no shoes on, again ranting in another language. I caught up with her and came up with the bright idea to play dumb and tell her that she forgot her credit card. She acknowledged and stop to take it for me.

I began screaming for security, which was stationed about 20 feet to my right. They stared. She booked up the annex. I shouted at the guards again. They stared. I screamed, “I’ve got a stolen credit card.” The security guards saw me standing there with a raccoon taser in one hand and a credit card in the other and began to pummel me with their batons. Meanwhile the man in the fountain dried off his feet, puts his shoes back on and followed the woman out the door. My manager pried the guards off of me and explained to them that we were the victims. The head security goon apologized and turned to take chase. By this point, I had passed out from lack of oxygen, so the rest of this article is hearsay and Al was known to exaggerate.

All the security guards ran outside, where the girl dropped to the ground and gave herself up. Meanwhile the big ugly guy climbed on top of his car and started ranting abut how he will end it all now and in the end he will succeed. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a picture of a Teletubby and jumped off the car. I heard that he actually believed he died, even though he only fell four feet to the ground and hit his head. When I went to the police department to sign a statement and file a report, I was informed that he was a 42-year-old podiatrist, who is well respected in the community. His wife is a graduate student studying molecular combustion.

As a follow-up to this story, I went to court and had to watch the the failings of the American justice system firsthand. The crazy doctor somehow convinced his wife/girlfriend to take the heat for the charges and he played dumb. The woman took a plea deal in exchange for a year of probation for a misdemeanor theft charge (even though they were trying to steal hundreds of dollars of CDs), she received no ding on her record and paid a $200 fine. Afterwards, the judge thanked the doctor for being an upstanding citizen of Livingston, NJ. You can’t make this shit up.