“There’s a gun pointed at your crotch. Unless you want to take your next piss with the help of a catheter, I recommend you take a brisk walk away and disappear into the restroom…” Jackie squinted at the guard’s name tag, “…C. Smith. What does the C stand for?”
The unarmed mall security guard stationed outside Crown’s Fine Jewelers swallowed hard. “Chris.”
“I’m Jackie. There are a lot of people walking around. Just act natural. We’re having a conversation, nothing more. You’re in the clear as long as you’re gone from what’s about to take place in there.” Jackie’s head leaned toward the store. “You took a bathroom break. No one will blame you for that. Nod if you follow me.”
“Good. You’re smart. What are they paying you, minimum wage to watch over a bunch of high-priced diamonds and watches? Don’t you find that ironic?” Jackie paused. Chris nodded again. “Here’s what’s going to happen.” Jackie shoved the pistol harder against Chris’ crotch. “After you walk away and stay away, I’m going into the store you were hired to protect and smash a few of those real clear and shiny glass display cases. I may have to smash a few skulls as well. That all depends on the level of cooperation I get from the staff and few customers in there. I don’t want to hurt anyone, but sometimes people get stupid or try being heroes and it never works out well for them. I’ll pick up a couple of choice pieces and walk out. Sound like a plan?”
“Why are you doing-“ Chris began asking.
“Shush,” Jackie said softly, yet firmly. “You’re a rent-a-cop, Chris, not a psychologist. After I’m gone and the real cops come, you’ll be in the clear. Just tell them nature called and that the thief must have staked out the place waiting for the right opportunity. I’m warning you to stay out of sight for 10-minutes. No more or less. That’s all the time I’ll need. And don’t tell anyone because if I find out you did something stupid like alerting someone. I…well…never mind, I don’t think you’d be that foolish. We good?”
“Good. Now, slow and easy, reach into your pocket and hand me your cell phone.” Jackie took and pocketed it. “Now, give me that little walkie-talkie thingy hanging from your belt. Wonderful. Now, disappear Chris Smith. Nice doing business with you.”
Jackie watched the guard disappear around a wing that led to the restrooms.
• • •
Professor Celia Washington stood before an audience of her peers at the annual American Psychological Association convention in Washington, DC. Most faces turned away from the large screen toward Dr. Washington. Enough time had elapsed for everyone to have read the fictional passage about a jewelry store burglary.
“All of our subjects read the same scenario as you all just finished,” Washington began. “Each subject was given two photographs, one of Chris Smith and one of Jackie. My team and I varied the photos. In some cases, Chris and Jackie were Caucasian. In others, they were African American. A different group saw a black Chris and a white Jackie, others saw the opposite. In photos shown to another group, Chris and Jackie were females. In others, they were both males. Some saw a female Chris and male Jackie, others vice versa.”
A number of graphs flashed up on the screen behind Dr. Washington. “We asked our subjects to select on a Likert scale, from 1 to 10, the likelihood that the security guard, Chris Smith disobeyed Jackie and sought help or assistance. The data are compelling. As you can see from this first graph,” Washington aimed a laser at the screen, “The results revealed…”
Professor Washington’s talk, titled, “The Racial and Gender Impact on Response to Criminal Behavior” kicked off the morning session in APA’s Social Psychology division.