Why Hello Officer…

Police officers

Glendale Officers Stan Mar and Dan Kiang

Nothing good ever comes of lusting for a hamburger so badly, that you can’t think of anything else.

I didn’t make time to eat breakfast or lunch on Tuesday. Instead I dined on salted peanuts, an apple, a small nutrition bar from my co-worker, and a sugar-laden fiber bar. I was aching for a big, juicy hamburger — something I almost never get.

Since I’m trying to be fiscally conservative, I figured I’d go to the grocery store, pick up hamburger fixins’ and create some greasy bliss at home. I ran in, picked up  burger makings, got to the self-check out, and realized I’d forgotten some things. I took my items away and the check-out girl had to cancel my order. I apologized but she wasn’t pleased.

Then I came back, checked out again, and hurriedly jammed things in my purse, because in Glendale they don’t give grocery bags unless you pay for them. I tried to get a cart, but they were all taken. What didn’t fit in my purse, I put in the store’s small grocery basket, and brought it to my car.

I was in my  JJill tunic and stretch pants, feeling as cute as a 60-year-old can, while putting groceries in bags I keep in the back of my car. As I was filling them, I heard someone behind me say “Hi, how’re you doing?”And I’m thinking, Hey maybe I do look good.  I half turn to see a police car behind me and cheerfully responded, “Fine, how are you?”

Then he continued with, “I noticed you’ve got that cart with you, they don’t usually let you take those out of the store, how did you do that?”

Now I’m thinking, “Oh my God, this guy is questioning me!” I nonchalantly continue putting groceries in the back of my Pilot because I’m thinking of hamburgers, not jail. I know I’ll just show him my receipt and he’ll realize his massive error of judgment.

As I fill bags, I say, “I wasn’t planning on buying this much, and it didn’t all fit in my purse.” (My purse is the size of most carry-on suitcases and clearly what a thief would have.)  I continue, “So I just put the groceries back in the basket and brought it out.”  Then he says, “Well would you mind if I take a look at your receipt?”  And I brightly say, “Sure!” Then, in the second it took me to respond, I realized I didn’t remember grabbing the receipt, because I was in a hamburger hurry.

So, I got out my wallet, saw my other receipts there, but not the one I needed. So I kept looking, hoping it would magically materialize. Then I started rifling through my massive black purse, realizing — this man thinks I’m a common criminal.

I tried not to react, because logically, I know I’m not a thief. I just paid 47.63 for those groceries (with coupons) and I went to Catholic school where I learned NEVER to take anything that wasn’t mine, not even the tiniest candy. But as I stood there, I realized this guy doesn’t know any of that. To him, I look like all the other crooks he’s apprehended, who were probably rifling through their purses, looking for an imaginary receipt. Then I started to feel nervous, because even though I was innocent, when you’re treated like a criminal, you start to feel like one.

If this happened to me over and over again, I could see how it would really bother me. So, I said, “Listen, I know you’re just trying to protect me and the other shoppers, so please, come in the store, I’ll show you.  I’m sure the girl remembers me.”

So the officer parked his car behind mine, so I couldn’t make a break for it. We headed into the store together, past my favorite bank tellers and the people I see daily, who now surely think I’m a menace to society. We walked up to the girl running the self-checkout and I said, “You remember me right?” She replied with a half irritated, “Yeah,”only a little more interested now because she can see I’m with a cop, and this is clearly not a date.

Screenshot of Vons receipt

The pivotal receipt.

I tell her I think I left my receipt behind and she pulls it out of the trash can. Thank GOD it was there! She says my name and I say, “Yeah, that’s me.” But the officer asks her again, “You remember her, she was here?” And, again the girl responds yes.

So, I walked out of the store with him, and my restored dignity. I told him I understood he was just doing his job.  He said this store has been getting hit a lot lately, so they’re really watching it, and you can’t tell by looking at people. He said an older man driving a Lexus, filled his cart with groceries and tried to steal them. We chatted more, then  I left because I couldn’t wait to get home and make that hamburger.

So, I drove out of the parking lot and saw another cop car driving fast, pulling into the lot I was leaving, probably to help apprehend me!

When I got home and told my daughter about it, she was incredulous. But, as I was telling her, I could feel myself getting emotional and started to tear up. It took me back to first grade when I got smacked hard by a nun with a ruler for something that wasn’t my fault. It was that complete feeling of unfairness that took hold and made me more compassionate.

Usually I say, if you’re innocent, you won’t find yourself in a situation where you’ll be accused of something. But clearly that happens,we hear about these incidents every day, and some end badly.

I see how it could escalate.  If I’d become indignant, or if he hadn’t been so cordial, even something as simple as this could have turned into something ugly.

I went on a ride along with police officers years ago, as a journalism student, and it was utterly eye-opening. The abuse that’s heaped on police officers daily, by drunks, drug addicts and others, is sickening.

Cops are here to protect us, and if they have to ask hard questions to make sure we’re the good guys, that’s what they have to do. They don’t know who’s who. There’s no nice-o-meter floating over your head, so they have to be suspicious of everyone, which must be a hard way to live.

On the other hand, I also now know how it feels like to be treated like a criminal by an officer, even though I was totally innocent.

After I told my daughter the story, she compassionately said, “Mom, we still need stuff from the store.” So, my stomach had to wait again.  When I got to the store, the cops really were busting a couple there to shoplift.

I went up to them afterward and learned their names were Officer Dan Kiang and Officer Stan Mar. They posed for photos for this post and we chatted. When I left, I gave them both a hug and thanked them for what they do. I could never do it.

HamburgerWhen I did finally did sit down to  eat that juicy, cheese and onion smothered hamburger, I believe it was the best hamburger I’ve ever had.

40 thoughts on “Why Hello Officer…

  1. Pingback: When the World Gets Ugly, Bake Cupcakes | At Fran's Table

  2. Great article, Fran, kind of you to thank the cops. They do get a bad rap, and deserve our respect and appreciation. Your hamburger looked so yummy !!! JoAnn. PS Happy Mothers Day !!!😊

  3. Fran, I thought of you when I read this article. I hope you enjoy it! http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/how-capicola-became-gabagool-the-italian-new-jersey-accent-explained


    On Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 7:07 AM, At Frans Table wrote:

    > Fran Tunno posted: “Nothing good ever comes of lusting for a hamburger so > badly, that you can’t think of anything else. I didn’t make time to eat > breakfast or lunch on Tuesday. Instead I dined on salted peanuts, an apple, > a small nutrition bar from my co-worker, Pam, and a ” >

  4. hysterical!
    those guys are cute – i think I’ll have to go to Von’s and act suspiciously myself! – now where did you say that supermarket located exactly?? it’s been a long time since I’ve been manhandled!

    • Good idea Leslie, but then I would have had to share and that was definitely not happening! I hope I made their day, they probably don’t usually get hugs from possible suspects.

  5. Great article!

    From: At Frans Table To: btunno@bernietunnoins.com Sent: Friday, April 29, 2016 10:07 AM Subject: [New post] Why Hello Officer… #yiv6376329053 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv6376329053 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv6376329053 a.yiv6376329053primaryactionlink:link, #yiv6376329053 a.yiv6376329053primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv6376329053 a.yiv6376329053primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv6376329053 a.yiv6376329053primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv6376329053 WordPress.com | Fran Tunno posted: “Nothing good ever comes of lusting for a hamburger so badly, that you can’t think of anything else.I didn’t make time to eat breakfast or lunch on Tuesday. Instead I dined on salted peanuts, an apple, a small nutrition bar from my co-worker, Pam, and a ” | |

  6. I think you have an extraordinary life, Frannie! It’s all in these fantastic stories!!
    If we are ever going to be arrested, it is either going to be for love or food!
    This is the best! And that burger looks so completely worth it! ( could I add a few more exclamation points?)

    • Hi Debra,
      It’s pretty simple. I just made thick patties, about 1.5 inches thick, sprinkled them lightly with garlic salt and fried them in a pan sprayed with Pam. In a separate pan, I sauteed a sliced onion with a tablespoon of olive oil and a little butter. Put it on low and keep turning the onions until they’re nice and golden. When the burger is done, place a couple of slices of cheddar cheese on top, turn the heat very low and put a lid on the burger. Toast a hamburger bun lightly, spread it with mayo, and add whatever you like. (I put on ketchup, mustard, the onion and it was absolutely heavenly.) Then add your cheesy burger and enjoy!!! Another way to enjoy burgers is to add some Lipton onion soup mix and water to the ground meat. (The instructions are on the box.) It’s very good!

    • I know, but I was hankering for a thick juicy burger like my mom used to make and you can only get those at home. It was awesome, truly awesome. But next time maybe In and Out would be easier.

  7. Your tale reminded me of the last time I got a ticket (about 25 yrs ago). After all was done the officer thanked me for being so nice. I smiled and said, “what else should I do?” He smiled and sent me on my way. I haven’t been caught since 🙂 Knock on wood!!

    • You little lawbreaker you! I have had several speeding tickets over the years and it’s always so tempting to be snotty with the officer, but it does you absolutely no good. I do draw the line at thanking them though.

  8. Fran,
    Another great post, one of your best! But, think that after every post. Going to lunch now, of course, for a juicy burger!

    • I know…I did consider putting it in, but it was getting a little wordy. You were one of the people who I saw daily, who probably thought I was a criminal. But it is nice to know you would have vouched for me. I should get your number for next time I’m trouble with the law.

  9. I so love reading your blog stories! This one reminded me of an incident I had a couple of years ago. I performed at a nursing home (I sing and play instruments) while the residents chowed down burgers since it was ‘burger day’. When I finished, I absolutely HAD to find a Subway sandwich place because my stomach was growling louder than a jackhammer at that point. Well, I wasn’t paying attention to how fast I was driving because I was too busy surveying both sides of the street for a Subway.

    Needless to say I was pulled over for speeding! I explained that I’d just finished performing at a nursing home (he saw the instruments in my back seat) and was hungry because I had to perform through the delicious scents of burgers and fries, and apologized for not paying attention to the speedometer. He probably had been in a similar situation like mine at some point, and decided to let me go with a warning. Situation averted!

    Just goes to show the mind-controlling powers of burgers!! LOL

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