Sorry, no pretty pictures of cards in this post.
Well, I finally ran into one of them. The much-discussed, possibly-apocryphal diviners of hits....the ever-elusive pack-searcher.
I was in the Westlake Village Target store picking up a prescription, so I hopped over to the card aisle to see if anything caught my eye. I was looking at repacks when another fellow came along to look. I graciously stepped to the side so we could both have some space. He was white, about early-to-mid thirties, about 5'10", with a black beard and stocky build. His T-Shirt was stylistically reminiscent of those "Tapout" shirts, but I can't recall what it said.
While I was looking, my wife called me on the phone, so I stepped down to the end of the aisle -- away from the cards -- to take the call. While I was down there on the phone, I noticed that he had proceeded to take all of the Topps Platinum Football hanging "Value Packs" down off the rack. Those are the ones that look like this:
This seemed unusual to me, but not nefarious. As you can see, they always pack 3 extra parallels in those types of packs, and often you can see through the wrapper as to what player/team you are getting on 1 or 2 of the cards. I don't have a problem with that...if Topps puts it in clear cellophane, that's not hurting anyone to look and see if you have one of your favorite team on the top. He was "holding" each one, then putting them back. He didn't set any aside to buy.
At this point, my call ends, so I got back over to the card aisle and started looking at repacks again. At this point, he walks over to the retail box of Panini "Decision 2016" political cards and pulls a giant stack of them out of the box...probably 10-12 packs. These things are pretty thin, and he proceeds to take one pack, with an end in each hand, and gives it the most-severe bend I have ever seen given to a pack. He probably gave it about a 45-degree arc bend, then threw it back in the box. Then I watched him do it again. On the third pack, I finally speak-up to the pack-searcher, aka "PS":
Me: "Hey, please don't bend the cards."
PS: <turning and smiling> "Oh, I'm not."
Me: "Yes, you are. I just saw you do it to three packs. It's obvious you're pack-searching, and that's not cool."
The PS's face got a lot more serious in that instant, and he goes: "Hey, just mind your own business, OK?"
Me: "What you're doing is not cool. Please stop."
--I was hoping he would just throw the cards back and leave to avoid a confrontation, as many others have found when confronting a pack-searcher. However, this guy was not deterred. --
PS: "Leave me alone. Don't worry about what I'm doing. It doesn't concern you."
Me: "Yes it does. When I buy packs that have creases down the sides or the corners all dinged up from pack-searchers, that concerns me."
PS: "I don't do that."
Me: "Well, when you're bending cards like that, they're gonna take some damage."
PS: <Takes a step toward me> "Just leave me alone, go over there or something."
Me: "Or what?"
PS: <mockingly> "Or what?"
Me: "This is wrong what you are doing and you need to stop. Just to get a hot pack to put on Ebay? Just stop, man."
PS: "Fuck you."
And with that, he just turned away and ignored me and went back to looking at the wall of cards, never to make eye-contact again. He stopped searching them, but just stood there. I could tell it was a standoff where he wasn't going to move and was just waiting for me to leave before he did anything again, and if I told anyone about it, he would look like he was just standing there. I had to roll anyway, so with that, I left the store.
After the fact, I kept thinking about this incident.
1) I really wish I hadn't made it so confrontational from the get-go. I have never had this experience before, so I just sprung into action without any real plan. It would have been enlightening to actually have a discussion with him...to find out if he was a collector or just a "Ebay Mercenary."
2) Either I should have tried to calm the situation and get him to talk, or gone full scorched-earth and pulled out my camera phone to take pictures and videos of him to post online. This never once occurred to me while I was actually talking to him. Only when I was gone did this enter my mind.
3) Would Target management have wanted to know about this? Would they have done anything about it? My guess is no, but I couldn't say for sure. I assume this feels like a much bigger violation to me than it would to them.
4) I really need to come up with better reasons than, "That's not cool, man." :-)
So, dear blog readers....what do you think about this? What should I have done differently? Have you ever run into a retail pack-searcher? What was your result?