So, yesterday I spent the day cleaning up burned things in the yard. I raked up bits, filled buckets, dumped trash into barrels, and filled the back of the truck twice to overflowing with charred remains of the useful things I had stored in and around my little shed-in-a-box. After my second run to the local "waste to energy plant" (aka incinerator), I headed up to Rice Lake to fetch a tarp, some tie-downs, and a roll of snow fencing with a host of t-posts. I didn't bother changing out of my filthy clothes, because I was just going to the hardware store and after that, well, I was going to race daylight and work in the yard some more.
There I was, dressed in my finest: a dirty knitted woolen cap, filthy work gloves, old baggy leggings and neon sneakers, and, topping it all, what I lovingly call my homeless coat. It's a $3 thrift store find, a giant baggy army green mens coat with a zillion useful pockets and thinsulate lining. After the day's work, it was covered with layers of dirt, grease and wide swathes of charcoal. My face and hands were dirty, my hair scraped back and wadded up under my dirty cap. Usually, I would've at least washed before heading to town, but I figured whatever, it's a quick run and then I'm back to the dirty work.
Oh yeah, I was so stylish.
As I walked into the store, I saw the lady at the customer service desk give me a funny look. But I grabbed my cart, and wheeled off to find things. I was on a mission, dang it, and the day was growing short.
While looking at plastic zip-ties, an employee sidled up to me and asked in an odd tone, "Can I help you??"
I said no thanks, and moved along to the tarps and tie downs. As I picked out a nice big heavy duty tarp to cover the remaining outdoor stuff, a different employee sidled up and asked again, "Can I help you???"
Man, what helpful people...but no, I'm good.
Off I went to the t-post and snow fence section. This time, two employees came over to ask if I needed help. That's when it dawned on me.
I was being tracked.
Holy crap. Because I was dressed like a derelict, they actually thought I was a homeless person.
Because you know, all homeless people raid their local giant hardware store before they erect a homeless person village in the woods.
Of course they do.
And you know, homeless people are all criminals. So of course I was planning to steal the contents of my cart, wheeling it madly away cackling, dirt flying off my filthy clothes.
Of course that could happen.
So I smiled sweetly, and said nope, I was doing just fine. I wheeled off, with my entourage following lamely behind, and wandered through Christmas Land for a little while. I kind of lost them in there, whether because of the blinking lights throwing them off, or because all the people in there shopping for holiday inflatables before snow arrives on Monday caused them to lose sight of me temporarily. They picked me up again when I browsed the bow and wreath aisle, but when I made for the checkouts, they seemed to realize...
Oh. She's just a dirty slob, not a weirdo bent on stealing tarps and t-posts and LED lights to decorate a New Age Hooverville in the scrub woods behind the store.
Usually, when I'm in the shop and NEED to find someone, they all vanish, leaving me to ponder the merits of various odd shaped fasteners with my pathetic building skills all alone. I'm going to remember to dress in my rattiest clothes next time--you sure get a lot of people offering to help that way!