. . . it’s still sometimes hard to keep from acting guilty!
A few years ago, at about this time of year, I was at a department store and found a long sleeve, round neckline, white knit shirt that I really liked, so I bought it.
The next Sunday I wore it to church under a jacket and decided I realllly liked it — it felt great on, the fit was perfect and I liked the way it looked under a jacket. And it just happened that I knew that same store was now having a sale. So, right after we got home from church, I went to the store to see if I could get the same shirt in a couple of other colors.
Let me just insert a bit of wisdom here that I was given by a friend many years ago. She was a very sharp dresser and she told me that one of her “secrets” to having a great business wardrobe was that whenever she found a great suit blouse, she would buy several of the same blouse, but in different colors.
So, I still apply that tip from years ago. If I find something I like whether it is a shirt, sweater or even socks, I tend to buy several in different colors.
Anyway, so I went back to the store to see if I could get some more of that shirt. When I got there, I was delighted to see that they still had it in a variety of colors and I picked out three that I liked.
I went to a cash register and got in line. Oh, by the way, did I mention that on my brief stop at home I had taken my jacket off? So I was now just wearing my new shirt and a pair of slacks.
As I was standing in line, I felt something tickle the back of my neck. I reached back to brush away the hair or fly, or whatever it was … and realized it was the price tag! I had forgotten to remove the price tag from the shirt I was wearing … which I had purchased several days before in this very store, but didn’t have the receipt with me … which was exactly like the three I now had draped over my arm. Yikes!
I quickly, but I hoped “casually”, tucked the tag into the neck of my shirt, and continued to stand in line. But my mind was racing. What if the store had surveillance cameras focused on this area and someone was watching me (doing it in a “guilty” way, I was sure) tucking the tag into the neck of an obviously new shirt! Maybe a security guard was on their way right now to question me about the shirt!
I immediately went into an instinctive don’t-look-guilty mode. I didn’t make eye contact with anyone around me because I wanted to be as invisible as possible. I could hear a family with chattering small children standing behind me in line. Whenever there was a pause in their conversation, I could just picture one of those small inquisitive children looking around with their sharp little eyes, spying the tag that, I feared, was clearly visible through the fabric of my shirt, and suddenly saying in a loud, crystal-clear voice (is it just me, or do they mumble only when you ask them a question, but speak in loud, clear voices when they are saying something embarrassing?), “LOOK MOMMY, I CAN SEE THE PRICE TAG ON THAT LADY’S SHIRT!!”
But, fortunately, neither a security guard showed up nor did one of the children “rat me out”. I arrived at the front of the line, paid for my purchases (no, I didn’t point out my silly mistake to the clerk, for fear she would take a good look at me and think, “This woman looks guilty as sin, I’d better call Security just to be safe!”), and then I hurried my guilty-looking self out of the store. It did cross my mind that maybe there was some kind of detection device at the door that would sound an alarm, set off by the tag in the neck of the shirt I was wearing! I know, that isn’t reasonable — but fear isn’t reasonable, even the baseless kind!
I began to feel better when I got to my car. But, I wasn’t able to fully relax until I had driven out of the parking lot and no security guard had burst out of the doors yelling, “Stop, thief!”
Feeling guilty feels awful — even when you aren’t! And when you tell yourself, “Don’t look guilty!” you probably act even more so.
Lesson learned: Always make sure you cut the price tag off of new clothes before you wear them!