What happened at Target last week is the closest I’ve come to channeling my inner Clint Eastwood. Not the stoic, heroic Dirty Harry, though. It was more in line with “Get off my lawn!” Clint from “Gran Torino”.

Yes, at 34, I’ve finally come to the point in my life where I’m on the fringe of becoming a grumpy old woman.

It all started before I even entered the store. As I moved from the parking lot to the sidewalk, I heard someone coming up behind me … fast. Was I about to be jumped in front of a Target? That was not part of my weekend plans.

I braced myself for impact when the pounding footsteps stopped just behind me. A teenage boy sidestepped around me and rushed into the store. I must be slowing in my old age.

This would not be my first encounter with Runner Boy. I found him a few moments later at the back of the store. He was with two friends now, loitering near the men’s underwear selection. Now, I see what the rush was all about, I thought. I wouldn’t want to miss a meeting of the Saturday evening triumvirate either.

They were talking and laughing. Now I understand when parents say there is nothing for young people to do in Napa. These kids are hanging out in a Target on a Saturday night. Hopefully they were killing time before a movie. Or maybe Target is just their go-to place.

My friend Amie and I often visit Target when we hang out, but we’re in our 30s and need valuables such as Swiffer sheets, Febreeze and Ziplock containers. We buy Tide Pods because we need to do laundry — not because we want to attempt a challenge we saw on YouTube.

I’d completely forgotten about Runner Boy as I was making my way past the home goods section when a familiar sound flooded my ears: stomping feet and laughter.

I had a choice to make: stop and wait for the stampede to pass, or continue my course and take out at least one rowdy teenager who thinks it’s OK to use his local Target as a playground.

As much as I wanted to go full Clint Eastwood and deliver justice, I stopped and waited for the boys to race past me. Two of them came around the corner and continued toward the back of the store, but not Runner Boy. He must be lagging behind. I decided to wait.

Sure enough, Runner Boy was bringing up the rear. He paused as he rounded the corner. I motioned in the direction his friends were headed, and he trotted off.

What a push over. This was my “Get off my lawn” moment, and I let it pass. What good would it do? I don’t have the crazy Clint Eastwood eyes or the growl … or a shotgun for that matter. That would be a whole other column.

With the puberty parade past me, I continued my shopping, hissing under my breath as I strolled the store: Damn kids. Who do they think they are running around this business? Where are the Target employees to restore order?

I was still shaking my head when the boys raced past me again, laughing loudly as they were heading toward the exit.

Oh to be young and bored on a Saturday night. I get it.

I grew up in a small town with nothing for young people to do other than go to the movies or the bowling alley. I’m sure some 30-something was shaking her head as my girlfriends and I giggled our way through a store on a Saturday night. Only my town didn’t have a Target. All we had was the Safeway grocery store. The courtesy clerks were cuter there.

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Samie Hartley is the Napa Valley Register online editor. Simple & Sassy runs every other Sunday. She can be reached at shartley@napanews.com.


Online Editor/Calendar Editor

Samie Hartley is the Napa Valley Register online editor. Her column Simple & Sassy runs on alternating Sundays.