Outside Looking In

Help Yourself

Help yourself
When self-checkouts first became available, I recall telling many others that this was not going to be the solution for companies to cut costs by not having to hire as many employees. Hourly theft at these machines would rival the cost of paying an employee to be a cashier.
My thoughts never rang truer than when I went to pick up a few items at Walmart in Willmar last week.
Because there are very few checkout lines open anymore due to a lack of workers, customers are forced to stand in line to use the self-checkouts. I was informed that the Walmart in Marshall has a similar problem. With so many people patronizing the store, especially during the holidays, and so few cashiered registers available, the wait at the self-checkouts can really test your patience.
As I was standing in line and about to use the next available self-checkout, I witnesses a young man in his late 20s pretending he was scanning loaves of breads, cartons of orange juice, and a few other items, and then quickly stuffing them in bags. Even though it was very busy in the store with many people standing nearby, he decided to "steal" the merchandise anyway, figuring the rest of us had better things to do than to watch him.
I've seen people sneak items into their bags without scanning them time and time again at various businesses that have self-checkouts. They all seem to have a unique way of disguising the thievery. Some will wait until no one is around before they bypass the scanner, some will place their hand over the UPC code and then pretend to scan the item, and a few other tricks. Generally, the employee assigned to watch the self-checkouts is not always attentive to say the least.
This man, however, didn't seem to care who was watching. I usually just shrug my shoulders when I see someone stealing since most stores don't do anything about it anymore anyway. But this time I became quite agitated. I knew if I said anything, I would be called a racist as the man was of Somali descent. The young lady overseeing the self-checkout area was also of Somali descent. Initially, I decided not to say anything.
As I was completing my scanning, I turned around and saw him continue to bypass the scanner. He would scan one item, skip another. He would hold two smaller unidentical items in one hand and then scan just one before placing both items in his bag.
I estimate he had over 50 grocery items in his cart and likely paid for half of them, or less.
I could keep quiet no longer. I motioned for the young Somali girl working there to come over and then informed her what I was witnessing. She immediately become irritated at me and asked me why I was watching him in the first place. I took that as she felt I was only watching him because of his skin color and not the fact that he was breaking the law.
I told her to forget it then and I asked to speak to the manager, which further irritated her. She spoke perfect English and I understood every word derogatory word she threw at me.
Many others around me listened intently, but said nothing.
The female worker then walked over to the thief/customer and talked with him, pointing me out to him as she gestured wildly, which is something an employer should never do. Instead, she should have called the manager as I requested, and let him or her take care of matters.
If this young man had been white, blue or green, my exasperation and anger would have been identical. Stealing on any level is wrong, but for anyone to steal that many items and seemingly not even care if anyone is watching is arrogant and that person should be held accountable.
As I left the checkout stand, other customers who had been in close proximity praised me for pointing the man out, but agreed that I was likely now seen as racist both by the customer and employee. The other customers also said they witnesses this scene unfold exactly as I did, but said nothing because it happens all the time.
This isn't about pointing a finger at a minority; it's pointing a finger at a law breaker. But if nothing is going to be done about it, the problem will spread faster than a drought-stricken grass fire.
And that isn't fair to those who are honest.

Santa to visit
The Minneota Fire Department will be hosting its annual parade around town on Friday, Dec. 10 with Santa Claus as the guest of honor. The parade begins at 6:30 p.m. with a free hot chocolate bar and a meet-and-greet photo opportunity Santa at 7 p.m. at the Fire Hall.
The Minneota Public Library will also have a special visit from Santa Claus at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18. Children attending can listen to a story and also receive a gift bag.

Donating turkeys
Brad Minnehan often donates or discount items from his grocery store, Brad's Market, that often goes unnoticed because he isn't one to toot his own horn. I was recently made aware that Minnehan donated several turkeys to the Kitchen Table Food Shelf in Marshall so area residents could have a nice Thanksgiving meal with their family that might not be able to afford a turkey.
Minnehan and the Buffalo Ridge Gobblers delivered 28 turkeys on Monday, Nov. 22 with a total weight of over 300 pounds.

In the story in last week's Mascot about Fran DeSmet retiring as a bus driver after 47 years, it should have said that Fran and Doris have seven children, 23 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. An incorrect number was listed previously.

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