The Time Mike Caused $135,000 In Damage At His Local Target
The following story is meant to be humorous, and is not intended to represent the real-life Mike Pence. As far as we know he is not, in fact, a master of Aikido.
Most people don’t associate Vice President Michael Pence with a swathe of retail destruction the likes of which would impress Genghis Khan himself, but it happened once. The result was a sizable donation to a charity of Target’s choice and a summer during which he worked as a volunteer bringing shopping carts in from the parking lot in only the hottest, most uncomfortable weather.
It all started the day I threw out my back in the grocery store. I’d absentmindedly dropped a can of olives on the floor—imagining myself putting one on each forefinger and each pinky finger and putting on my own production of <em>Waiting for Godot</em>, as one does—when I stepped on our friend the can and next thing I know there I am like a slapstick vaudevillian of the old days after stepping on a banana peel splayed out and writhing in pain in a pile of goldfish crackers in the main aisle of the store. The end cap had broken my fall and I had, in turn, broken the end cap.
It was upon the second or third recounting of this sad tale that Mike decided he needed to teach me an important lesson in what he called the Situational Awareness. Many’s the valuable lessons Mike has taught me over the years and none more useful than the value of the Situational Awareness.
We went to his local Target store. Normally all I’d think about is getting to the part of the store that has what I want in the shortest amount of time, but not so when exercising the Situational Awareness. By the self-checkout, there was a small tower of movies. Near the apothecary stood a display of shampoo. There was a pallet of bags of dog food. A delicate display of stemware was observed. A great presumably immovable mass of bags of flour was, through the employment of the Situational Awareness, noted by ourselves.
It was right by the olives that we cut inward. I’d been commenting to Mike that the part of The Boy in the play is taken by myself when he refocused me.
“Be not offended that I interrupt your clever insights regarding modernist theater” Mike said. “But I worry, friend, that your focus may have slipped.”
Right he was, of course. Right he was. Fair play and all that. I’d lost my focus and I’m a fair enough man to accept earnest correction when it’s warranted and warranted it was.
We took a right at a cardboard tiki bar display in boy’s clothing and it was then that I saw a most beautiful thing. There at an intersection of main thoroughfares stood two towers topped with a lintel. They were made of packages of the popular game Jenga—which I’m told is manufactured and sold by the fine, fine people at the Hasbro company—and each was a double tall stack of those packages assembled Jenga-fashion. Spanning the top of the towers was another of their like but laid on its side on a thin piece of wood. Three hundred and twenty four boxes, stacked and beautiful.
Heading into the far corner of the store we saw electronics, a display of patio umbrellas and a kiosk of seed packets.
That’s when it happened.
A screaming comes across the store. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now. We turned and there in the middle of the summer seasonal section was an old woman pointing and screaming to beat the band.
“Thief!” she cried. “Thief!”
She pointed at a crude wee gentleman in a black and white hooped shirt with a black mask covering his eyes and a black fedora atop his shaggy head. Mike was after him in an instant.
The thief knocked over the kiosk of seed packets which scattered, a slippery explosion on the formica. Small children slipped and fell tearing open the packets sending seeds everywhere. Several of the children appeared to be severely injured, though none, I am told, fatally.
Mike was hot in his pursuit. Your man knew we were after him and tossed over the umbrellas which smashed on the floor, all cracked plastic, bent metal and wires in search of eyes to poke. An elderly gentleman had an artery sliced open by the sharp metal and blood was spouting out of his arm and into an upturned umbrella like he was the Lady Gratton drinking fountain in Stephen’s Green.
I followed the chase into the electronics section. Loathe was I to watch what happened there. Displays were mere chaotic piles as the pursuer and his pursued had seen fit to go both over and through the department. Consoles and locked cabinets leaned one against the other like fallen dominoes. Phones and tablets dangled from their displays like a thousand lonely wilted flowers left embarrassed in the sight of the eyes of the world. In the center of what had been the department stood a shell shocked clerk with the thousand-yard stare like an ambulance driver at the Somme.
What happened next was worse. The burglar took a tight turn through Jengahenge. He miscalculated his angle, however, and a single Jenga log was knocked to the floor. Mike was through before the worst happened. The tower began to teeter, the lintel began to slide and the complete collapse of the structure caused a class of sound that even stopped the burglar and Mike in their tracks.
There was silence as all the witnesses stared at the great pile of Jenga pieces. People stood mouths agape. Somewhere a child softly wept into his mother’s skirts.
Mike turned to the burglar.
“You brigand,” he said. “You gosh darn monster!”
The pursuit resumed, as the burglar, sputtering and flailing, crushed the cardboard tiki bar in his haste. I eyed the olives as they ran past but they remained undisturbed.
“Knife!” I heard Mike shout. “He has a knife!”
Then I saw the blade. The burglar stopped and cut a large X in the stack of flour bags, sending their contents onto the floor before he ran off. The ruse worked, at least for a moment, as Mike slipped and careened into the stacked bags which did him the injustice of exploding, fogging the air with its dusty contents. The dust went everywhere and coated the lungs of all the shoppers caught in that dust storm’s path.
I heard the display of stemware crash to the floor before I saw it, so thick was the floured air. What I saw shook me to my very core. Shards of broken glass carpeted the aisle. I grabbed two nearby brooms and, standing upon them like skis, I crossed the glassy pain with minimal discomfort.
What I saw when I got to the pallet of dog food sickened me. The Burglar was standing atop it throwing twenty pound bags of the stuff at Mike, each of which exploded turning the floor into a kibble-studded firmament. Several old women with turned ankles were rolling about on the floor in pain.
The burglar leapt and, grabbing the nearby hair care display on his way down, covered the floor in a slippery sea of silicone free, moisture renewing shampoo. A sadder sight you could not behold.
Mike pursued him still, undaunted. One cannot easily daunt Michael Pence. He may be, point of fact, undauntable.
The burglar obliterated the kiosk of movies like a linebacker hitting at full tilt the marching band’s second flute and when I’d got there I slipped on a copy of a mindless comedy and hit the floor in a dive.
Mike was right behind him, his breath hot on the burglar’s neck. Your man the burglar tripped over his own feet and went down by the self checkout and Mike himself went toppling over and beyond him.
They were both to their feet at the same time, the burglar with knife drawn.
Then it happened.
The burglar went to stab Mike in the abdomen. He adroitly flowed out of the way using his right hand to parry the strike downward. At the same time, his left arm came up under the burglar’s chin to control his chest with a firm elbow. The left arm then wrapped around the attacker’s arm and hyper-extended the elbow, which caused him to drop the knife. His attacker thus disarmed, Mike dropped to one knee and, with his left arm, threw the off-balance burglar to the ground.
While the burglar was stunned, Mike rolled him onto his chest and pinned him in an arm lock, waiting for the police to arrive.
“Michael,” I gasped, out of breath, skidding to a halt before the pair. “What in the hell was that?”
The burglar answered before Mike could.
“Munetsuki hiji kime” the burglar said. “If I’m not mistaken.”
“Indeed, ruffian,” Mike said. “You should always comport yourself as if there is a master of Aikido around to correct you in your misbehavior.”
Well, Mike made honest restitution to his local Target and I learned that as much as you think you know a friend, he can still surprise you.
Some time I should tell you about the time Mike went on an ayahuasca-fueled vision quest.