My wife and I have long agreed that if there is any choice in the matter, we spend our money with local merchants at locally-owned businesses. We bank local. We dine at locally-owned restaurants. But, there are times it’s not possible or practical to buy local, and this was one of them.
The chain of events which follows started last Tuesday afternoon, when the carpet-cleaning company (locally owned, locally operated) FAILED to keep an appointment, and with a houseful of guests expected for the long Thanksgiving weekend, my wife was mortified about the condition of a rug in our main living area. Knowing we’d not likely be able to secure carpet-cleaning services the day before a holiday, we opted instead to purchase a new rug. (The old one is now here, in my spacious and tastelessly-appointed office.)
This decision necessitated a trip to a huge national chain store. It had been a full day at work for my wife; she faced a full day of cleaning and baking the next day (Wednesday), so she decided to go rug-shopping Tuesday night. She went to three stores to find the one that was the right size, color, and texture for the room where we and our guests would be spending many hours during the four-day Thanksgiving holiday.
Tired and bedraggled, but successful in her carpet-hunt, she returned home and we retired to the sleeping chamber.
Friday morning, with our guests heedlessly slumbering in the lower living level (no doubt in a semi-coma induced by tryptophan from the turkey, combined with alcohol) my bride was perusing the bargains on her iPad and found something to purchase. This necessitated getting her wallet to get the debit card, and that’s when we discovered that the wallet was missing.
After an exhaustive search of our home and her car, she placed calls to all three stores she’d visited Tuesday night, inquiring if anyone had turned in a wallet; no ma’am. I called the bank to cancel and replace the debit card, while she went online with the state DOT to replace her driver’s license.
This Wednesday afternoon (a week since the wallet had gone missing), I got a call from the bank, saying the big-box store had just called THEM, reporting that the wallet had been turned in a week ago and there was no phone number in the wallet or in the phone book for Toni Morrissey, so maybe the bank could find her and tell her they had the wallet, had been keeping it for a week, and, well, were tired of keeping it.
Yesterday morning, I went to the Customer DisService department of the big-box store to retrieve the wallet, and that’s when the 36-minute battle began. At the “intake” level, I was denied. Never mind that I have the same surname and address (and a debit card from the same bank); she would have to come in and pick it up in person. Never mind that all her ID was in the wallet; she had to do it.
Sensing a challenge, I politely asked to speak with higher authority. I was routed to an Assistant Manager; then to a shift manager, giving the same story each time, and finally I said I’d like to speak to the highest authority in the building. I was escorted to the sanctum sanctorum, and listened politely while the STORE MANAGER explained the STORE POLICY to me. I pleaded my case again; nope.
I said to the STORE MANAGER, as I pulled out my cell phone, that I was going to call the police and report the crime that was taking place. “Whaddaya mean, CRIME?” whined the STORE MANAGER. Summoning my Irish talents as a master BS’er, I informed the store manager that because Wisconsin is a marital community property state, the wallet he was holding against my wishes was as much my property as my wife’s, and that knowingly holding said property against my wishes is a form of kidnap called trover (I couldn’t remember the difference between trover and replevin from my law courses over 40 years ago), and in Wisconsin trover is a class-E felony, hence the STORE MANAGER was de facto a material party to a felony, and that the POLICE would come and tell the STORE MANAGER whether Wisconsin law trumps his STORE POLICY and when the police informed him of the answer, I would insist that they take the STORE MANAGER into custody for this crime against me and all the people of the great state of Wisconsin.
As far as I know, my spiel was 100% unadulterated BS.
The color had drained out of the STORE MANAGER’s face; his demeanor was far less assertive and self-assured (some might say smug); so I held my cell phone up, and said “last chance – store policy or Wisconsin law?”
He took my wife’s wallet, which had been handed to him by the shift manager when we entered the STORE MANAGER’s office, and handed it to me. I thanked him and left the store.