Well…I had every intention of going to bed as soon as I finished my homework tonight…but then, I got a bug up my ass to edit and upload my pictures from Carnaval to the bookface (go check ’em out if you haven’t already!). As I was logging out, I realized that I never updated my blog about that one time I got accused of shoplifting while in a foreign country; and so here I am, at two in the morning, providing a brief anecdote to the interwebz about that happy time before heading off to dreamland.
So there we were, Ashley and I…we had recently finished enjoying our afternoon in Retiro where she took a handful of pictures for her photo journalism class (also on the bookface), and we had just arrived to Sol to take the last few before calling it an evening. We made our way out of the metro, and decided to take a quick detour into Sephora to have a look around before getting back into photography mode.
For the record, I’d say this is the second time I’ve ever stepped foot into a Sephora, despite being a loyal customer for quite some time (mail order is the way to go in Humboldt County!). Obviously, I knew that I’d eventually need to restock on my skin care supplies, so I started browsing a bit while Ash looked for what she was interested in. Out of nowhere, one of the clerks approached me and, to my knowledge, asked if I needed help with anything (mind you, this was all in rapid Spanish, so I only caught the gist of what she said). I replied politely with a “no, gracias” and indicated that I was just looking around. When she asked me a second question that I definitely didn’t understand this time (it sounded like she was asking me if I was interested in trying a lipstick, which obviously I was not), I just shook my head no, and again indicated that I was looking around.
After feeling her staring at me for a good while as I browsed, I finally asked her about a perfume Ash was interested in seeing to see if I could get her off of my back; I honestly assumed that she was just very aggressive and wanting me to buy something, and would leave me in peace if I acted interested in more than browsing. After she showed us to the section, though, she just continued to hover over me. Since she clearly wasn’t going to leave me alone anytime soon, I asked her to help me find a couple of the products that I use, during which time she kept following me closer and closer.
Now, in Spain, it’s pretty normal to be followed and/or watched closely when you’re shopping, but this? This was to the point of being unwelcoming. At this point, I thanked her for her help and we started heading out of the store. Before we hit the doorway, we were stopped by security, whose only words I understood were “no” and “lipstick.” I was completely puzzled; why on earth were we being stopped?? I didn’t know anything about a lipstick…
And this is where I play the dumb foreigner: “No entiendo.” The security guard calls over a shop clerk who speaks English. “She says she saw you took a lipstick. Where did you put it?” Uhh…really? “I didn’t take a lipstick.” The security guard indicates that I should empty my pockets, so I do. “Yes, she says you took a red lipstick.” I raise an eyebrow at this. Clearly he doesn’t see that I’m about a long skirt and a missing bra away from dressing like a full-on hippie. “The only red lip-anything I have is this Chapstick ” I say as I wave my strawberry Chapstick in front of him. “She says you asked for a red lipstick and she gave it to you. Where did you put it?”
Despite my irritation, I’m managing to keep my cool, and calmly try to explain that I never talked to her about a lipstick. Meanwhile, she is waving a box of lipstick behind him, reading off the product numbers and saying that I talked to her x amount of times. As the police walk in and begin talking to security about the issue, I repeat myself again, saying that I never took anything and that they could search my bag or my person if there was an issue. At this, the clerk declines, stating that he is “not allowed” to search me. Since I clearly wasn’t getting anywhere with this guy, I told him that I would just wait to speak to the police–though I was pretty amped up after such a huge accusation, I knew I wasn’t at fault, and would probably have better luck communicating with one of the officers, instead of my accusers.
Five or so minutes of waiting were added on to the ten minutes I had already spent trying to prove my innocence, when finally the security guard got my attention and gave me permission to leave. All of that hype for absolutely nothing; as we walked out, I had a string of choice words to say about that situation. Needless to say, I needed a stiff drink afterwards, and thank the gods that the bartenders of Madrid tend to pour heavily.
And here’s the moral of the story, kids: For fuck’s sake, try to avoid letting people know you’re a foreigner; don’t do anything stupid in a foreign country; and definitely don’t get hot-headed about a situation until you know you’re in the clear. Just some friendly advice from Mama-Hen Dex.
And on that note–bedtime, kiddies.