The Scene at the Bookstore

I am standing in the aisle one of the major bookstores, browsing for books on conflict management and having a conversation on my cell phone as I scan the titles.  Out of the corner of my eye I see a young lanky guy adjusting his. . .double take. . .horrendously fake moustache.  My voice trails off on the phone as I observe him walk over to three other guys, two sporting similar fake moustaches and mirrored Aviator-style sunglasses.  The last guy with no fake disguise appears older and has the look and body language of being the leader.  They huddle together and continually adjust their moustaches as they engage in an animated discussion, frequently popping their heads up to look around the store.  I am openly staring at this point and describing the scene over the phone.  My curiosity is piqued.  I can’t decide if this is some prank about to go down, or if these guys are up to no good, and I stand transfixed for several minutes.  I decide to move, and they decide to break up in two groups and move as well.  They ride up and down the escalator several times, pretend to look at merchandise, and continue pacing around.  They consistently regroup and talk in a very agitated manner.  I cannot help but take note of the fact that none of the store patrons are even cueing in on this odd behavior.  Are people really this oblivious?  Yes, yes they are.  So, I wander out the first double doors and stand in the vestibule, still observing the group as they all congregate at the foot of the escalator.  I make the decision to move on, half wanting to stay and be a fly on the wall, and half wanting to get out of there.  I can barely believe how un-observant people are, and wondering what it takes to grab their attention.  How easy is it to blend in, in plain sight, wearing a laughably fake disguise and looking completely ridiculous?  It is kind of funny, in retrospect, but the implications are kind of sobering, too.  What nefarious schemes could one pull off, if he or she is so inclined, without anyone really noticing until the point of reckoning?

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3 Comments

  1. interesting…

    and yes people do not pay attention especially the ones who proclaim they ARE aware of their surroundings. they may say it but they don’t know what it means to do it in practice.

  2. Just to clarify…you observe what is highly suspicious behavior….you have concerns about their behavior enough to want to get out of there…did you contact the store personnel, the security guards, or call the police and I just missed that part of the story?

    While I agree that people can be unobservant, and your awareness could have just saved your life but if this story is accurate and you did nothing more than that, I’m not sure the right lesson is being taught here. I’m not suggesting you needed to confront them like the guy who tackled the underwear bomber on the Christmas flight, but contacting somebody wouldn’t have been a bad idea. A little inconvenient if it turned out to be nothing but…

    I’m just a little confused by this story.

    • It was a story about awareness, and luckily it turned out to be nothing. After the fact, I realized that it should have been about notification, too. You are absolutely right. We have a responsibility to help keep each other safe, and notification is what I would have done differently.


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