Junior year I left college to finish up my interior design degree at a private 2-year art school. To pay bills I took a job as the dressing room attendant. Each night I’d sit counting items as women brought them in to try on. Anti-theft tags were not in use yet.
Working security: if I saw something suspicious I’d call my supervisor with the suspected thief. Having a birds eye view of the store entrance allows me to see who is taken into custody. I watch people run. I watch people get tackled.
Then I got a job at Jordan Marsh floating between the bedding and lamp departments run by Mr. Kenney and his “girls.” At the job interview Kenney warns me they are hard to work with….
The girls are three women all in their late 50’s, who run the bedding and drapery area. Most have 20+ years working there as department managers come and go. The customers love them. Oh the stories they tell.
Next to Furniture Harold runs the lamp and art department; he’s a tall slim well dressed southern gent. As a newbie interior design student I am happy helping customers figure out draperies and bedding selections along with wall art. The ladies take me under their wing teaching me how to measure a window, the correct rods to use and bed sizes. Skills I still use today.
One day I’m walking the floor when a couple comes in to look at the wall art. Something is not right with them. Taking one of our most expensive paintings off the wall the guy tells me “I’m taking this to the furniture department because my wife wants to see it with the sofa we’re buying.”
Suspicious I tell Harold; now we’re hiding behind the wall pretending to look at furniture watching them… they walk from sofa vignette to sofa vignette getting closer and closer to the down escalator.
Finally the man bolts with the painting hopping on the down escalator. Harold stands there. It feels like an time is suspended when my store security instincts kick, I shout
“Hey you STOP!!”
Without thinking I’m wrestling the painting out of the guy’s hands battling it out on the down the escalator. The thief lets go running down the rest of the way out of the store.
Turning around, painting in hand I walk back up the down escalator.
“What if they hurt you! What if they hurt you!” Harold’s having a melt down.
“Well you would have done something wouldn’t you?” His expression tells me I was on my own.
That job taught me how to measure for bedspreads and custom drapes.
It taught me how to confront a thief.
It’s good to have backup you can count on.