Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Meijer and the police fund

end of june 2006
my almost 11 year old found an i-pod in a discarded shopping cart in the Meijer parking lot. since he is an honest almost 11 year old, he told me about it instead of pocketing it and possessing it on the sly.

yep, he's one of the good guys so it naturally follows that with Meijer's help, he finishes last...

unbelievably the customer service desk was empty of frustrated customers, allowing us to walk straight up to bearded Meijer associate and turn over the i-pod (with the translucent pink covering) to the official Meijer "lost and found." as it turns out, any and all lost valuables discovered at the superstore are relegated to a pull out drawer under the customer service desk. and no, my friends, there is no combination lock, no pad-lock, and certainly no glowing-green hand print recognition pad. curious about the future of said i-pod, I ask the associate what the policy was regarding found objects.

"if the owner doesn't claim this in 30 days, it will be yours." I gave the associate my husband's card with our home phone on the back and walked away.

beginning of october 2006
looking at my shopping list, I realize I need to purchase some stamps at the customer service desk. while I'm waiting in line behind the lady trying to return the outdoor turkey fryer--"yes it's greasy because I used it once and I had to season it, and then I discovered that it didn't work right, so I want my money back"--I recalled that the status of the found i-pod was still a mystery to me. after I secured my stamps, I offered a quick explanation and description of the translucent pink cover, the associate pulls open the drawer and pulls out the i-pod. stunned and a little excited I cry out, "that's it!" now it was her turn to be stunned. she stood there with the i-pod held up a little high and pulled away from me, like I was a large dog climbing her body for the desired scooby snack. she turned to her right and then her left, searching for a Meijer associate backup.

seeing that there is some concern/confusion on her part, I explain that last June, blah, blah, blah, and that the guy said after 30 days, blah, blah, blah. there, I thought that should clear things up, I've just regurgitated their policy back to them--end of concern/confusion.

she makes a mad dash to the black phone.

after a conversation of "uh-huhs," head nodding and searching through a battered spiral wide-ruled notebook, she hangs up the phone, places the i-pod back in the drawer and says, "you can't have it" and looks over my shoulder and nods to the next customer to step up to the desk. before guy trying to return an opened bag of tidy-whities can plead his case I ask, "did I misunderstand your policy? I thought if it was unclaimed after 30 days, we could have it." obviously, after her phone "conversation" this associate feels very secure about her new found power, shaking her head she states lock-jawed, "yeah, you misunderstood, after 30 days it goes to the police." she now pulls the opened bag of undies from guy behind me and asks for his receipt.

I'm pretty sure this means I've been dismissed, or should I say dissed?

I walk away from the desk, a little befuddled. there's a remnant of logic trying to swim through the swell of information/attitude that associate has just deluged me with. logic hits the surface of my sea-foamed brain just as I pass the greeter, "ah-ha!" I blurt out, while startling the greeter. I turn and ask to talk to the store manager, supervisor, tzar--whatever the title.

head honcho shows up and gets the whole story, and I add that the i-pod has been in the lost and found for three months now. he begins his reply with a slight wave of his hand across his body, just like Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars I, (no joke) as he says, "I understand the situation, but I can't give you the i-pod." you have no idea how close I was to saying, "I'm Toydarian, foolish Jedi mind tricks won't work on me," but decided the tzar probably had no sense of humor. instead I replied, "I understand this policy, after 30 days...or 60... or 90..." I add mischieveously, "you turn the object in to the police, can I go to the police and make a claim as the finder of the object?"

"No," again he shakes his head, "the police claim the object and auction it off for their police fund."

I can't stop myself, "the police get rewarded?! so, my son, the honest boy, the one that found the object, to whom was told by your associate that he could claim the object after 30 days, this same boy gets to learn a lesson on honesty and patience that rewards the police, who neither found the object nor has been patiently waiting?" he nods, and quickly walks away from me--the borderline, about to go-over-the-edge Meijer crazy.

up until this point, I thought I had given up on elementary school playground law. you know, "finders keepers," "possession is nine tenths of the law" and "you can't change the rules in the middle of the game," but right about now, they seem to be the only common sense out there.

my son wasn't devastated, he wasn't bitter. he's taken his honesty lumps and moved on. maybe, just maybe good guys don't finish last.