This afternoon at Monoprix, a local down-market department store and supermarket, there is a commotion by one of the exits. A woman’s shouts rise, a small crowd has assembled. The guard is trying to wrestle a shopping bag away from the woman. Looks like a foiled shop-lifting attempt. Except that she’s hanging on for dear life to the sack, screaming at the guard to let go of her bag, over and over. « It’s mine! It’s mine! » she’s yelling. Soon another guard arrives, and another.
Her life seems to depend on that bag. And it’s clear that they know her, a repeat « offender. »
« Give us the receipt and you can have the bag, » one of the guards says. « I don’t have a receipt! It’s mine! It’s mine! » she shouts back.
In the increasingly muscular tussle and confusion, some of the contents tumble from the bag. My heart sinks: a cucumber, some cheap cheese… As I suspected, she was « stealing » food.
The three big men manage to shove her screaming into a side room. Can’t have these things happening in public view, after all.
In a daze, I drift off to buy my few provisions. I can’t stop thinking of this woman who just wants to eat.
After a few minutes, I decide I’ll go offer to pay for her food. Then they can just let her be. But when I return to the scene, I see through a small window in the door that she’s surrounded by police. It’s clear there’s now nothing to be done.
And it’s also clear that all she wanted was something to eat.