By KRISTA VANCE
OK, I think we can all agree that store sales can make people a tad nutty, but there's nothing as scary as a clearance sale at a craft store.
Do you have any idea what crafty folks can do? They can mess you up. Seriously, they have rooms full of hot glue guns, needles, scissors, everything needed to make voodoo dolls, fake flowers to put on your grave, and soooo much more. I'm more afraid of angering a crafter than an assassin ... just sayin'.
Recently, I received a lovely black eye to prove it.
So there I was, slowly perusing the aisles of my favorite craft store. Eventually, I worked my way to the yarn section and was minding my own business when I heard a ruckus behind me. I glanced over my shoulder and saw two women yelling at each other and tug-a-warring over a long black pole.
It was getting pretty heated, and even though I'm a "helper," I knew that getting in the middle of that fight would end poorly for this good Samaritan.
Also, I practice Krav Maga, which is Israeli hand-to-hand combat, or street fighting without rules, and the No. 1 thing I've learned is that the best fight you can be in is the fight you're not in. It's a definite win!
With that in mind, I took off toward the exit. There was no way I was going to be in hitting distance of a flying knitting needle.
As I was running, the Code Silver alarm must have sounded across the walkie-talkies, because a swarm of employees were flying full bore my direction. My quick reflexes and Krav redirection move saved me from being trampled.
Things were getting real in the back of the store ... real scary, that is. Everyone was yelling. The employees. The cray-cray women. The lookie-loos who were encouraging the fight. (I'm telling ya, we crafters are a vicious group.)
During my escape, something caught my eye: 75 percent off signs. I slammed on the brakes and detoured into the aisle. Because the fight was in the back of the store, I figured I was out of danger.
Now, I'm a collector, and because I have ADHD, I don't really stick with one thing. Recently, I've been acquiring birdhouses, and that's what was on the top shelf.
I knew that I should ask an employee to use the mobile ladder to safely retrieve the birdhouses, but they were pretty busy, and when I was a kid, I used to climb trees. So climbing three shelves wasn't even a challenge. I high-tailed it to the top and sat among the birdhouses, examining each one.
It finally dawned on me that the yelling was getting closer. I looked up and saw the black pole moving in my direction. "Are you kidding me?" I thought. "I'm busy. Take it somewhere else."
But no such luck.
I was pretty sure the employees chasing Crazy Lady #1 (CL#1), who was chasing Crazy Pole Lady (CPL), weren't going to care too much about me being where I shouldn't be. However, hiding was still in my best interest.
I pushed the birdhouses to the edges and laid down between them. I slid open the back of one of the birdhouses and peeked through the front hole. Just call me a looky-loo.
The CPL ran down my aisle with the pole raised above her head and CL#1 was right behind her. I noticed two things: CPL was very tall and CL#1 was very short. They stopped right in front of me. "Yes, I had a bird's-eye view!"
There was name-calling, and both of them were jumping. I felt bad for CL#1. She was giving it her all, but unless she could fly she didn't stand a chance.
Because all the flailing was happening right in front of me, I noticed that the pole was a black metal shepherd's hook, and I needed it for my birdhouses!
Time to enter the fray.
Ever so slowly, I slinked my arm between the birdhouses. Each of CPL's jumps swung the hook my direction, but still just out of my reach.
Finally, the employees arrived, two at each end of the aisle. The Crazy Ladies were trapped. In midjump, one of the employees decided it was a good idea to tackle CPL. As she was hit, the shepherd hook flew from her hand, swirled in the air and landed on my face. Immediately, my left cheekbone doubled in size, but it didn't stop my ninja hands. My fingers clawed around the shepherd's hook, and I pulled it to my chest.
Everyone below me was so preoccupied with each other that they didn't see me slip down the other side of the aisle.
As I paid for my new clearance price shepherd's hook and pretty new birdhouses, I watched the police escort the jailbirds from the store.
I won the fight!
Or maybe I got my shiner by slamming my head between the handle on the gate and the fence post. You decide.
Krista Vance is a former Champaign resident. While she now calls northern Colorado home, she spent five wonderful years in Champaign and misses great friends, corn and big-sky sunsets.