How Do You Not Look Suspicious (While Doing Something Suspicious)?

Every 50 days, I walk into the grocery store and do something that appears very suspicious.

One of my cats, Biddy, has diabetes. So part of his daily routine is to get injected with insulin. He doesn’t seem to mind–I think he knows it makes him feel better. Plus, he only gets a tiny dose at this point, as his weight is way down from a few years ago.

The problem is that I need to buy insulin syringes on a regular basis from the pharmacy. Based on their reaction every time I ask to buy a box of syringes for my cat, they don’t get a lot of people asking to do that.

Guess who else tries to buy syringes, according to a pharmacist friend? Drug addicts.

Today was syringe-buying day for me, and I realized that I don’t know how to act when I’m trying not to look suspicious (while doing something suspicious). It seemed like an eternity while the pharmacist was tallying the bill, during which time I tried the following:

  • Looking at my phone and not looking at my phone. Which is more normal?
  • Putting my hand in my pocket and not putting my hand in my pocket. Where do you put your hands when you’re trying to act natural?!
  • Looking at the pharmacist, looking behind the pharmacist, and looking intently at my credit card as if it was the most interesting thing in the world.

What do you think? Is there anything you do that appears suspicious? How do you not look suspicious?

16 Responses to “How Do You Not Look Suspicious (While Doing Something Suspicious)?”

  1. Joe says:

    I believe the best course of action is to wear a hoodie with the hood up and halfway over your face – dark sunglasses, and put some removable tattoos on your knuckles for good measure. That way no one will be the wiser that these are actually for your cat.

    That’s what you were asking, right?

  2. Erin H. says:

    Hmmm… are you just getting the syringe or is the needle attached? When my cat had diabetes, I needed a prescription for the needles (and it was a single piece with the syringe), so no junky misidentities. 🙂 Next time just bore everyone around you with stories of your cats and show them endless pictures and videos.

    To answer the questions above…
    – on phone
    – hand in pocket if not being used with phone
    – yawn. How can you be bored and suspicious?

    Oh god, my cat just farted. I guess that is her input.

    Hugs to Biddy.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Erin: It’s a syringe with the needle attached.

      I like the yawn recommendation, and I’m sure your cat was trying to send a very important signal. I’ll consult with Biddy and Walter to see what it means.

  3. So, this is probably counter intuitive, but the best way to not look suspicious when doing a suspicious activity is to bring a friend. Most likely, with the friend present, you will have something else that you are talking about or thinking about while waiting for the needles to arrive. You won’t even be thinking about how you should stand, where you should look, or what you will be doing. You will switch from monitoring the entire situation to being reactionary to the pharmacist when they need your attention.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Anthony: That’s a great idea. Tough to pull off, based on when I go grocery shopping (during the day to avoid crowds), but a great idea no less.

  4. T-Mac says:

    I agree with Joe–embrace it! As a standard, harmless, law-abiding citizen, how often do you get to embrace the role of scofflaw, ne’er-do-well, hoodlum, or ruffian? Lean into it like a biker whizzing around a turn! I’d say you add a full trench coat and scratch your skin irritably as you stand there. Look around in a shady fashion. Accuse the pharmacist of being a narc. Maybe even pull some kind of minor weapon on him/her, like a prison shiv, then immediately apologize profusely as you note how you “just really need to get these syringes” and “can’t trust anyone anymore”. Ask if the syringes are safe to use on eyeballs. When the syringes appear, let out a tiny yip like a puppy about to get a treat. Tell the pharmacist you can’t afford to pay today, but you’ll get him/her next time. If that is rejected, offer for him/her to keep one for him/herself, noting that “nobody needs to know”. If you do actually get the syringes, wink and tell the pharmacist that you won’t forget what he/she did for you as you walk away.

  5. Anthony Gerald says:

    Say, “I want to buy syringes to feed my daily crack habit. No, joke, it’s for my diabetic cat.”

    Because you brought up drugs they won’t suspect you. If that doesn’t work, do the shifty dog eyes from the Simpsons.

  6. Katie says:

    Bring the cat. If they try to tell you that you can’t have him inside the pharmacy, cover his ears and act indignant that they would treat him like he’s an animal instead of a person. Talk to Biddy and purr at him, letting him know he’s just as special as anyone in there. Feed him treats from a fanny pack. Call him silly names like, “Biddy the Wonder Kitty” or “Biddy-boppity-boo.”

    I guarantee they’ll remember you every time after that, and you’ll just be the crazy, eccentric cat man rather than a suspicious junkie.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      That’s brilliant! You’re right that it would only take one crazy instance like that for them to never forget. They may even put a picture on the wall.

  7. As someone who has had a lot of experience having to pick up weird things from pharmacies(Don’t ask why, it’s just not that interesting) I’ve found my personal favorite diversion is to just engage the pharmacist in conversation. It gets my mind off how suspicious I feel, and I think also gets their mind off it as well. Just asking them about their day and focusing on driving some conversation that doesn’t revolve around why I’m getting a prescription enema kit.

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