Wishing You A Lifetime Of Wedgies, Whoever You May Be

I think we can all agree that witnessing a man taking a crap in public---right there on the street, a mere two blocks from your house---is likely to put a damper on anyone's afternoon. And yes, this is an entirely true story. However, when witnessing a man taking a crap in public is not the most disturbing thing that happens to you all day: well, then you've got a problem.

Our trip to London is coming up fast (we leave next Friday, oh my god) and, as such, I had decided to devote most of Sunday morning to procuring a) some cute baby stuff for my best friend's baby, AKA My Fake Nephew, b) some new underwear for myself, and c) some appropriate shoes to wear to the wedding we'll be attending while we're there.

After a fairly fruitless hour in H&M, I went next door to the Gap, where, after much searching, I ended up finding some adorable stuff for Fake Nephew and---bingo!---some underwear for myself. (And hey, as a bonus, I didn't even have some creepy dude ring it up for me, like last time. Score!) The cute stuff for Fake Nephew and the underwear for me were both put into the same bag---a rather darling Baby Gap one with cute beribboned handles---and I walked out of the store pretty darn satisfied that I'd knocked two of the three things off my list.

I popped into a few more shops, and then, just before I decided to head home, I found myself across from the Marshalls on Market Street, which is a pretty skanky Marshalls as far as Marshalls stores go---and yes, I know that's not saying a lot---but which has a surprisingly decent shoe section; in fact, I think it may even be called a Shoe Emporium, or something else equally grandiose.

While browsing the Shoe Emporium, I was so tempted by a pair of suede chocolate brown Calvin Klein boots---I'm telling you, Marshalls has some good stuff if you're willing to dig deep---that I brought them over to a bench to try them on. Once I had them on, I looked around for a mirror, saw one approximately two feet from me, and headed over there to have a look. Both my purse and my Baby Gap shopping bag were sitting on the floor next to the bench at this point, and since the mirror was about three steps from me, I grabbed my purse---although I almost didn't, oh my god, what if---and left the shopping bag on the floor.

Wait, let me rephrase that sentence: I stupidly left the shopping bag on the floor. Yep: stupid, stupid, stupid.

Because you can guess what happened next, right? I returned from my five-second journey to the mirror two feet from me, looked around for my Baby Gap shopping bag containing everything I'd just bought that morning, and discovered it was nowhere to be found. But it was just right here!, I thought. And then: wait, who the hell steals someone else's shopping? Panicked, I hopped around the store in the stupid brown suede Calvin Klein boots---which were actually pretty awesome, come to think of it; too bad that got nipped in the bud---trying to spot someone carrying a Baby Gap shopping bag. Because maybe it was a mistake!, I thought. Maybe they thought it was their bag!

And......yeah. Maybe not. Maybe someone just stole my stuff while I turned my back. 

After four Marshalls employees had stared at me blankly while I tried to explain what had happened, a manager was summoned, and together we set about canvassing the store for.....I don't know what. Suspicious-looking people in trench coats and dark glasses with their pockets stuffed full of underwear from the Gap?

Dressing rooms were searched, Lost & Found departments were scoured, and security guards were questioned, but the perpetrator had obviously fled the scene by then---a fact that was made abundantly apparent when the Baby Gap bag was eventually found ten minutes later on the floor in an entirely different section of the shoe department, totally and completely empty.


I was pretty angry. Sure, it wasn't like I'd spent hundreds of dollars or anything, but still, someone had knowingly stolen the stuff I'd just bought. Someone had taken something that wasn't theirs. Someone had seen a window of opportunity and darted in to make the most of it, and yes, it was absolutely and completely my fault for leaving my shopping bag unattended for five seconds, but still: who does that? You know? What has to be going through your head that you think "ooh, a shopping bag from Baby Gap just sitting here on this bench all by itself, I THINK I AM GOING TO TAKE IT. What is inside? WHO CARES?"

So at first I was angry, and then I felt pretty stupid, and then after that I was angry again, because in addition to taking the merchandise, the thief had also taken the receipt (and yet he'd left the gift box! so thoughtful!) and when I realized this, a lightbulb went on inside my head and I had a thought: perhaps the person who had taken my stuff was going to try and return it to the Gap and get the money (my money!) back. You know, presuming he or she had no use for some cute clothes for a eighteen-month-old kid and six pairs of women's underwear.

But don't worry, gentle reader, for this is where my faith in humanity is restored and where we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the story turned out to have a (mostly) happy ending. Defeated, I left Marshalls, crossed the street and went into the Gap, and explained the situation to the nice lady behind the counter. And as luck would have it, she turned out to be a supremely nice lady behind the counter, because she looked me in the eye and said "My god, that is terrible, I am so sorry that happened to you. Why don't you come with me and show me exactly what you bought and we'll replace it for you, no charge."

(I know! Isn't that amazing? Despite the fact that I had absolutely no proof at all that the story I was telling her was true---well, aside from my pitifully empty shopping bag and the mascara tracks staining my cheeks---and despite the fact that it was totally my fault that my stuff had been stolen, this lovely, kind-hearted woman took pity on me and let me replace all of my purchases.)

(Actually, that's not quite true: it was a different Gap than the one I'd originally bought my stuff in and they didn't have the same kind of underwear---which was kind of a relief, actually; for a second, I thought she was going to have to stand there and watch as I picked out all the patterns and sizes I'd had last time---and so she REFUNDED my purchase on that instead. Attention: Joanna who works at the Gap on Market and Powell, YOU ARE AMAZING. I sincerely hope you have good hair days for the rest of your life, and also that they give you some sort of seriously awesome employee discount on those two hundred dollar leather bags you guys have in at the moment. Like, at least forty to fifty percent.)

As for me, I've totally learned my lesson: keep your friends close and your newly-acquired purchases even closer, Internet. Be ye not so stupid as me! Hold those shopping bag handles tight, my friends, and clutch them to your chest! It's a big bad world out there, full of people who want to steal your knickers. Don't let them take your knickers, Internet! DEFEND YOUR KNICKERS. DEFEND THEM TO YOUR DEATH!

Camels & Chocolate
Sep 28, 2008

See, this is precisely what I love about San Francisco: No one at Gap on the East Coast would have ever been that kind to you!

Also? I mourn for your lost Calvin Klein boots. Maybe now that your Gap purchases have been salvaged, you can return to Marshall's and claim them as your own (assuming the perp hasn't also done that for you).

Sep 29, 2008

I think being a cute girl with an English accent didn't hurt matters any at the Gap store. Dude like me comes in in the same situation, they're gonna be all "uh-huuuhhh..."

Maybe. Maybe not. At any rate, that was extremely cool.

I hope your day ended on an up note, and you didn't see the bum-guy defecating *after* the shopping incident.

Sep 29, 2008

Now you know what runs through my mind when I see people below the Mason/Dixon line pulling up to convenience stores and going inside with their cars still running. Whaaaaaaaaaat? Not this New York girl!!!

I'm with the X-Files. Trust No One.

Good thing it was only your knickers - imagine if you'd just bought the last pair of some fabulous designer shoes for the wedding, and set the bag down while you were picking out baby clothes! Or if the Mad Crapper had followed you into the store and left you a prezzie in your Baby Gap bag! See, things could always be worse.

- M

Sep 29, 2008

In India you can see a man taking a crap in public every single day. This plus the sketchy water situation are why people come back from India 15lbs lighter. Sorry about the stolen knickers...

Sep 29, 2008

Which reminds me, I need to get some new underwear.

Also, it excites me that I am now somewhat familiar with the locations you described.

She Likes Purple
Sep 29, 2008

I don't think anyone in Texas would have been that nice either. Joanna sounds like one of a kind there. Thank goodness your awful experience ended with her.

Sep 29, 2008

Perhaps we could turn Joanna into one of those Internet heroes, the ones that emerge from nothing to stardom by virtue of their kind deeds. Like, did anyone ever read that really nice* story about Zappos? http://consumerist.com/consumer/above-and-beyond/zappos-sends-you-flower...

*And I recognize this could be planted, but if so, bravo/a, savvy PR professional.

Sep 29, 2008

Wow - Gap totally redeems itself for several years of horrible shopping experiences! I can't believe that woman refunded your money like that, how awesome!

Anonymous New York
Sep 29, 2008

Aw, Holly, that totally stinks. That is one terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Just like the story book, except without gum in your hair.

Hope today is better - with 100% less public pooping. And very soon London! Rome! and gelato!

Sep 29, 2008

I had the same reaction to being burglarized - what makes a person just believe that he has a right to take someone else's stuff? It's so beyond my ability to comprehend. I couldn't even take some Peanut M&Ms when the vending machine man left an entire box of them open and unattended at work. And I love Peanut M&Ms. A lot.

Sep 29, 2008

Oh my! That totally sucks! All this time I thought I was being paranoid when I'd walk with an armful of my belongings to the closest mirror...I'm glad I'm not paranoid! But I'm not glad you had to go through that.

Two related things:
-For as bad a everyone thinks Gap is (giant/faceless corporation, etc.) every time I'm late on my Gap-card payment, they immediatley take the late charge off if I call and ask nicely. Pretty sweet.
-My ex once saw a crazy homeless man take a crap right in front of the giant Gap on Market. He said all the tourists pretended like nothing was happening, meanwhile the homeless man was yelling "Then f*cking arrest me!". Funny story.

Sep 29, 2008

Wow, that is awesome about the Gap people. Sort of restores my faith in human nature. Almost.

You really have to watch places like Ross and Marshall's. There is a skanky Ross where we sometimes stop off near South Coast Plaza, and I once found an actual puddle of actual urine on the floor in the shoe aisle. Although I guess if people are crapping in the streets, it shouldn't surprise me that they're also whizzing in Ross.

Sensibly Sassy
Sep 29, 2008

How sweet of Joanna! It is so great when people remind you of how nice people can be. Sorry that happened in the first place though.

Sep 29, 2008

I once left my purse in a taxi cab in NYC and a nice guy handed it in and the cab driver drove all the way back from Brooklyn to Manhattan to give it back to me. THAT restored my faith in people!

Very sweet of Joanna to help you. It's unfortunate that some people who frequent the discount stores are looking for a good deal! :-(

Hope your week, this week, will be better ... at least you have a wonderful trip to look forward to.

Hot Bride
Sep 29, 2008

Oh my, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little after reading about the dump on the sidewalk. It reminded me of a few years ago when I had to walk 4 blocks to the gym at 4:30am (in the MORNING!!!) and every single morning I would witness the same man taking a dump in the same doorway of a shop. Truly disgusting....Oh my gawd, I'm going to vomit just thinking about it.
Ok, bye now!

Sep 29, 2008

Where to begin?! First, the bathroom issue. That is horrible. OMG. But. I can top it. In Beijing in 2004, I witnessed a WOMAN DO THAT. Yeah. I know. Second, Joanna rocks the house. Third, I am so jealous of your many, many trips :) But have a blast!

Sep 29, 2008

I would have been LIVID. Like the time someone stole my wallet on the bus and used my credit cards to buy Coach purses and diamond bracelets. AND VICTORIA SECRET UNDERWEAR.

What is it with thieves and underwear?

Sep 29, 2008

That so sucks. I can't understand how people can live with themselves doing things like that. But I will say that that sales lady will have good karma. And when I'm in the city next (I'm East CoCo County) I will stop in that Gap store and buy something just for the heck of it (and maybe get Joanna some Starbucks or something). Becuase the world needs more people like that.

Sep 29, 2008

Oh Holly, people just plain old suck a lot of the time. I am so happy that the gap employee ended up being such an angel. It really helps to have your hope restored every once in a while, makes it easier to get over all the horrible behavior out there.

Kerri Anne
Sep 29, 2008

I can't even count how many times I've left myriad items of mine unattended while hobbling in potentially new shoes toward the nearest mirror. NEVER AGAIN.

(So glad they replaced your things! Three cheers for the kind Gap lady!)

Sep 29, 2008

YES! Something like this totally happened to me! Right after I got married I was at the mall and bought a personalized christmas ornament with our names and wedding date on it. I then proceeded to accidentally set it down while shopping in another store and when I turned around it was gone! Unfortunately the only response I got was all of the security people at the mall and the store people giving me "aw shucks" looks. No one was able to help and the ornament was never found. Seriously, what are the chances that someone named Tom or Kristin who were married on 6/16 that year was the thief!! I'm still bitter 7 years later. Way to go Joanna, what a wonderful woman!

Sep 29, 2008

Wow! That DID restore my faith in humanity!

Sep 29, 2008

THAT rocks! Joanna I mean. The rest. ish.

Dr. Maureen
Sep 29, 2008

Here's something to make it seem better, maybe. When I got to the part where you decided to take your purse with you, I was trying to imagine what would be worse than seeing someone crap on the street and thought that maybe you were going to turn around and see someone crap on your Gap bag. Or in it. Or something like that. So. At least THAT didn't happen.

Sep 29, 2008

I really think DEFEND YOUR KNICKERS! needs to be your new tagline.

Sep 29, 2008

What a harrowing day! I'm glad it all came together in the end. Whew! I agree that "Defend your Knickers!" Should become a new tagline! Hilarious! You rock!

Sep 29, 2008

Oh, I would have been MAD. And probably not smart enough to go to the GAP.

Your genius idea was rewarded.

I hope the thief is allergic to the underwear, if that is even possible.

Sep 29, 2008

Damn, I knew I forgot something the last time I went shopping. I totally need new underdud's...that said, I can't believe someone stole your *knickers*. I mean, maybe I'm jaded (I'm a uni student... people will steal ANYTHING here if you don't keep an eye on it!), but knickers are just so much more personal than most things. Yikes!
Joanna is totally amazing... we all need at least Joanna in our lives!

I'm sorry about your mishap, but I'm so glad it all worked out in the end!
PS: ...I just joined twitter yesterday. Like you, I'm way late to the bandwagon. Sad!

Sep 29, 2008

Whoops. at least one* Joanna.
Though I suppose it reads okay as "we all need at LEAST Joanna in our lives!"
...but said that way, it's kind of creepy. Ha.

Sep 29, 2008

Wow. Just... wow.

It's not like they stole something of VALUE. An iPod or your purse or anything else... THEY TOOK YOUR BAG FROM BABY GAP! That's just lame.

Lame thief. Lame, lame, lame.

But at least NICE GAP LADY was nice. Yay for people like her.

The Over-Thinker
Sep 29, 2008

This has restored my faith in Gap.

This has also reminded me to call them knickers.

Sep 29, 2008



Public pooping and shopping bag thievery? Horrible?

Joanna? She deserves employee of the month and a 50% discount, certainy...at least a strongly-worded letter on her behalf.

Sep 29, 2008

That is seriously awesome about the Gap employee. I mean, who does that? It's unheard of! I bet the person who stole your stuff has loads of bad karma coming their way.

Sep 30, 2008

one of the last things I saw in san francisco was a guy crapping in an alley between grant and kearny on bush as we drove our possession-laden car out of town.

Oct 01, 2008

Glad Gap was so good to you!

I live in New England. I once ordered a winter coat from them, fairly late in the season (November). And instead they sent me a bikini. And when I called to be like "Um, high, I ordered a coat and a scarf and gloves and I got two piece swimwear", everybody was so nice that I couldn't even be mad (that and the general hysterical nature of it all. It was snowing outside. The bikini, not so insulating. Also a bit too small, but thanks Gap, I sincerely appreciated that you thought I'd look good in it).

They do have rather nice people working for them. :)

Oct 03, 2008

I had the hem of a pair of Gap pants come undone once, and even though it was well past the ninety day defective item limit, I had only worn them twice and was in tears when I called them (they were the only nice pants i had!), they replaced them for me no questions asked.

Oct 04, 2008

Three cheers for supremely nice Gap lady!!!

I don't suppose, by any chance, the defecating person you saw was at the end of Hayes, near Van Ness? Because I saw the SAME MAN taking a shit there TWICE.