In Illegal Pursuit of a Spiderman Backpack

When it's too hot, people tend to act a little crazy.

Combine a week of temperatures over 100 degrees with stressed out parents freaking out the day before school starts, and you have a recipe for LA insanity.

I wish I could have avoided venturing out into that insanity. Unfortunately, yesterday afternoon, after doing a final inventory of my six year-old son's school supplies, I realized a new backpack was needed. Last year's Batman backpack...well, the Batman decorations were falling off. As much as I didn't think this was a big deal, my son definitely did.

Was I going to be the parent who sends their son to first grade with a jacked up backpack? It was tempting. After all, I'm only a couple of days off of hanging out with Amish people in Indiana. They do just fine without a whole lot of stuff. Surely my son could do without a new backpack?

Alas, I loaded the family into the car and we headed to the Target at the Glendale Galleria. Once there, we headed up to school supplies central on the second floor. Slim pickings were to be had. Nothing but pink and leopard print backpacks. Clearly, none of those were going down with my son.

Then I spied a little sign that said, "More Backpacks On Third Floor". So, we trekked up to the third floor where we totally lucked out! There was one Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle backpack and one Spiderman backpack left! Whew!

My son quickly chose the Spiderman backpack and then we headed back down to the second floor to check out the crayons. And that's when this loony lady decided to try to jack my son's Spiderman backpack out of our shopping cart!

It's not like I'd abandoned the cart or anything like that. Nope, I was crouching right next to it, digging through the school supply rubble. My three-year old was hanging off the side of the cart. He's the one who raised the alarm.

"Hey! That's not your backpack!" I heard him yell in his loudest, most outraged voice.

I looked up to see this awful woman clutching the precious Spiderman backpack in her meaty hands. Her expression clearly showed that she couldn't decide whether or not she wanted to put the bag back or take her chances and run with it. I was absolutely shocked. My kids though...well both of them started yelling at her.

"It's a backpack stealer!" screamed my six year-old. "Get her!"

My three year-old jumped off the side of the cart, ran toward her, and, to my horror, pulled his fist back and slammed it forward into her gut!

The woman let out an anguished squeak, threw the backpack back into the cart and then turned and fled. My eldest son yelled down the aisle after her, "YOU BETTER RUN! YOU STEALER! THIEF!"

The little one just had his dukes up, yelling, "I'm gonna kick your butt!"

What in the world??? It took a couple of minutes to calm them down. They were busy giving each other high fives and victoriously shouting, "We stopped that thief!"

Yes, they definitely had...but what the heck was going on? Attempted Spiderman backpack theft in Target? Who in the world does that? I can only think the heat must have had an effect on homegirl's sanity. And as awful as it sounds, I'm sort of glad my little boy socked her in the stomach like that. Of course I gave him a little speech about not hitting people, which he still believes does not apply to thieves. Gosh, he really thinks he's tough now.

This morning, I successfully got my six year-old out the door with his brand new backpack all filled with folders, crayons and pencils. He's excited to tell all his first grade friends about his adventure with last night's wannabe backpack thief.

As I walked him down the hill to his school, I noted that his version of events had expanded to the wannabe thief cowering in terror all night long.

Whether that's the case or not, the thief probably slept a little more comfortably last night because the much needed cool-down rolled in. Let's hope that means her (hopefully) heat-induced backpack thieving insanity has come to an end.


Dena said…
oh, dear! did this really happen? :-) sometimes your stories are so out there! stuff like this never happens to me. backpack thief or not, i'm so glad your kids stood up for themselves! way to go!
Jameil said…
that was worth all the drama!! 1st why does your target have 3 floors? that is fright-inducing in and of itself. but really... LMAO @ this whole thing!!! my fave part, "It's a backpack stealer!" screamed my six year-old. "Get her!" I can't stop giggling!! oh good times, good times!!
Sundry said…
Dang! I laughed, I cried. Well, I gasped, anyway. What a great story for back to school day!
Anonymous said…
Who would steal a Spiderman back pack? I can see maybe a BATMAN Back pack, but Spiderman? Really, what is the world coming to!

Lisa Blah Blah said…
Oh. My. GAWD. How hilarious and yet disturbing. And hey, I was at the new Target in the Glendale Galleria yesterday, too (my office shut down due to rolling blackouts), but I was there at around 12:30. And I didn't venture anywhere near the back to school section. Your kids are funny, though - I'm glad they called her out like that.

Have you noticed that if you try to park in the structure directly across from the Target, everybody parks all over the lines? Are the spaces extra small there? What is up with that?
Anonymous said…
Please say it was this crazy SoCal heat that led her to do this! What craziness! Kudos to your boys for speaking up. I love that. And the gut punch was icing on the cake. Hilarious stuff.
Lydia said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lydia said…
Girrrrll! People are just danged rude! I was in that Target a few weeks ago. I of course have to take the elevator because I have a double stroller. (HELLO, can't get on the escalator!) I am standing there with 4 of my six kids, plus my 5 year old neice. The twins were in the stroller. After I had been standing there for 5 minutes (it was sooooo slow), finally the doors open and and some heifer that had nothing but her cart with two things in it, Bogarts in front of us and just watches as the doors close! (She could have used the REALLY fun shopping cart ride thingy next to the elevators) but noooo, she had to take up space in the elevator!

I think rude, backpack stealing, elevator Bogarting, folks should be banned from the 3 story Target!
Ms Angela said…
OMG! The woman ACTUALLY tried to jack your son's Spiderman backpack! Liz, that is the story to end all back to school stories, as far as I'm concerned! That is materialism at its worst and ugliest! (sigh) Well, we know the answer to that, don't we?
Anonymous said…
Who the heck was this woman and what the heck was she thinking??? I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry.
Liz Dwyer said…
LOL! Sometimes I'm convinced I have some sort of crazy person or weird circumstance magnet attached to me or something! Or else this kind of stuff happens to other people too and they just don't write about it or they tune it out. I'm a bit proud of the boys too. All I can say is the bullies in Toussaint's future better watch out! He has a mean right hook!

The Target used to be a Robinson's May department store. They got bought by Macy's and since Macy's owns Target, well, there you are, three floors! It is a little crazy with all the up and down.

Yeah, my kids...they keep harassing me about another baby brother or sister. I'm starting to think all they want is another mini Michael Corleone for their crew.

I really laughed after I got in the car and started listening to my two boys analyzing the woman's motives. It certainly was the most eventful back to school shopping ever!

Seriously! All the Batman ones were gone, but my boy was happy with Spidey. Go figure. But just imagine, if it had been Batman, she probably would have decided to run off with it. Then we'd have been left with the ugly Mutant Ninja Turtle backpack. Ugh.

Oh that's fun that you got to get out of work for a little while and how cool that you go to that Target too! I guess those rolling blackouts are good for something. And I absolutely hate parking over there across from the Target. I haven't been able to figure out why, but maybe it is the size of the spots. Something just isn't quite right though.

I can only hope it was the heat that made her do that. Either that or she had her own 1st grader at home and she couldn't handle going home with either the leopard print or that ugly Ninja Turtle backpack. As for my boys, they have a serious penchant for justice.

Now THAT'S ridiculous. Even if homegirl didn't know how to use the cart lifter-thing in the middle of the store and that's why she was taking the elevator, she should have had some semblance of manners.
I think folks excuse their bad manners by saying that they're in a hurry. I think we need to bring finishing school back for kids, seriously. And next time I'm in that Target and I see twins, four other kids and a lovely lady, I'll know it's you! :)

Materialism can make folks do some crazy things, can't it? It's seriously a shame. I'm convinced that folks who do stuff like this should be sentenced to one month at Amish Acres so that they can learn how to do without the things they think they can't live without.

Well, a friend of mine is totally convinced that when people do things like this, they are possessed by demons...a bit extreme, but it makes you wonder!
thailandchani said…
Oh, geez! That's hard to imagine.. even in Los Angeles. (I can say it.. I was raised there. :)

Good for your sons, sticking up and saying something to that woman. Hopefully it embarrassed her sufficiently that she won't do something that stupid again!


Nerd Girl said…
That is hilarious! Next time please post a "may not be suitable for work" warning -- I don't think I'm supposed to laugh this hard while "slaving" away in my cubicle! :)

Ooooh, a 3 story Target . . . I would hurt myself in there. Must make note to visit Glendale next time I'm home.
Anonymous said…
That's JUST what my 5 year old would have done. Do not mess with his Spiderman accoutrements. I was in Target on Century Blvd. in Inglewood about 2 weeks ago. I left my basket in the aisle to go get Tide (in the NEXT aisle)---I come back and it's GONE!! I had cute little pj's in there and a few other things. I was HOT! I spent 20 minutes going up and down the aisles looking at people and their baskets to see if they were the culprit. Ha Ha...
Anonymous said…
Jameil are you from the midwest? I am a midwest person and we are only allowed box stores. Not cool 3 story targest like in L.A. or Home Depots built right into the neighborhood structure like in Chicago...No our stores must purchase like 15 acres of land and spread out as much as humanly possible...the conservation of land is not a top priority! 4 year old started pre-school and I opted for a Goodwill packpack for $2 I mean what really does a pre-schooler get that the would need a $10 backpack!
ryan said…
Oh my! Hilarious!

I bet that poor woman was desperate (not that it excuses her behavior). I bet she had some spider man crazed child and school was starting the next day and she had looked in like five different stores already, and all that she could find were pink leopard print hello kitty backpacks, and in a panic induced haze she saw your backpack and just lost her mind for a second. I've never jacked anything out of someone's cart, but I can relate just the teeniest bit!
Neil said…
How awful. Obviously this woman did not ask herself, "What would Spiderman Do?"
none said…

You've got some future do gooders on your hands!

Be gone foul villain!


I had that happen to me at a walmart. A lady just took my whole basket and ran. She must have seen something she liked.
Liz Dwyer said…
Definitely a surreal experience. I've had a shopping cart full of stuff stolen before in a different Target, but I wasn't right next to it when it happened. Just unbelievable.

Nerd Girl,
LOL! Hope no one questioned what you were doing! And yes, the three story Target...I can't figure out if it has the same amount of stuff in it as the other Targets. Definitely come check it out, if only to put your shopping cart on the cart escalator.

I was at the one on La Cienega and had picked out some underwear and a pair of shoes...could not get the cart into the narrow aisle, so I left it as close as I could. I probably walked five feet away, came back with some other stuff and lo and behold, the cart was gone. I looked for it too, but it was nowhere to be found. And none of the employees had taken it because you know they weren't trying to work that hard. Well, at least now I know it wasn't just me! :)

I hear you. The backpack price was a little ridiculous. I'm sure I could have gotten it cheaper if I'd remembered to look for one sooner than the night before school started.

That's exactly what I was thinking too! I haven't taken stuff out of someone's cart before, but I totally get how a kid crying at 7PM about a backpack can make a sane mom just lose it. Plus, her brain was probably totally fried due to the 100 degree weather.

Such a good point! I've used that kind of thinking on my sons though. I used to make my eldest sit in a time out chair across from a Batman picture. I'd ask him, "Would Batman (fill in the blank)? It was highly effective. Hmm, he's gonna be in therapy, isn't he?

Yes, I definitely have some do gooders over here. I'll loan them to you next time you venture out to Walmart!
West said…
That story is awesome. I KNOW *you* were in-shock, because I was in-shock just READING about it!

Oh yeah. We don't have 3-story Targets around these parts, either.

I didn't know such a thing existed.
Jon said…
They are little super-heroes! Standing up for truth and justice with small fists of fury. Oh America.... how low can we go?
Anonymous said…
HA,HA,HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA!!!!
I can just see them doing that!!!
Ndelible said…
So, you're telling me that what I can look forward to is the superhero backpack wars? Hmmm, I wonder if Cam will embark on the rescue mission if he remains an only child.

And I hate the Glendale Galleria; I avoid it all costs. There must be nothing to do in Glendale, cause everybody hangs out there.

Ndel's World
Liz Dwyer said…
I think we also have a multi-story Walmart in Inglewood, but since I avoid Walmart like it's the devil, I've only heard about it. And I have been in a two story K-Mart. Yep, space is at a premium in this city!

They give me confidence for my old age. These two will definitely protect me! And, my gigantic six year-old is 4'1" so he's pretty big! If he keeps on growing like this, I'm convinced he's going to be a giant.

Oh yeah, the Corleone brothers in fully effect. You're the one that said they were some tough urban kids. I guess that's a little true!

I hate that Macy's in the Glendale Galleria like I've never hated a store before. And yeah, the superhero madness is something out of this world. And your little one will still go on a rescue mission because most superheros are only children. Batman, Superman and Spidey are all sibling-free!

Anonymous said…
That is the best story I've heard in a while. You seem to be raising the new dynamic duo over there. If you're lending them out I have this co-worker...
Liz Dwyer said…
Ha ha! Let me ask them what their hourly rate is for superhero antics.
Do you think it would be ok if I asked you to give your sons a couple of high fives for me, too?

It takes courage to stand up to an adult whom they didn't even know, courage and a well-developed sense of integrity. Good job, Mom!

I think you are way too generous to attribute this woman's appalling behavior to the heat. She just thought she could rob a little kid while his mother was looking the other way.

I wish I COULD be your neighbor. I'd feel so safe with your sons on the job.
Liz Dwyer said…
Yeah, I'm trying to give her some generosity of spirit but I really know better. I sure wish we could be neighbors too. That way you wouldn't have to deal with your crazy folks anymore. Perhaps I'll send my little defenders of justice up your way to deal with things.

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