Zoder: Camcorders, credit cards don’t mix

Jul. 27, 2013 @ 11:35 PM

Last Sunday, I took my children and my mom to the Donut Friar in Gatlinburg for their famous eclairs. We also picked up some cinnamon bread for later.

We sat down at the round table with a barrel for a base, which became a great conversation starter with my 5-year-old. “Why does this table sit on a barrel, Mommy?” You know how that line of questioning goes with 5-year-olds.

We walked back to where we had parked the car. The rain could not decide if it was done for the day or not. People were walking with open umbrellas and sunglasses on.

Yes, the sun was shining and yet it was raining. We wished we had brought ponchos.

On the way back home, I stopped at Food City to fill up the gas tank. My children came out of the car, as they saw a familiar face and wanted to say hello. I relaxed.

I like it when we meet people we know during our outings. I feel connected to my town. I remembered my little axiom that one must live in a place for one year before one spots somebody one knows at the grocery store.

And then, right after I got into the car, a knock on the window. This woman was just outside my car window, asking me to roll my window down. I hesitated for a second. Then, I decided she could not kidnap me in the afternoon, with my mom watching and the kids on the back seat.

So I rolled down my window just a tad, so I could hear her. She pointed a small electronic device toward my lap, but in an angle where I could see the screen and she said nonchalantly, “I was wondering if you would be interested in purchasing a small camcorder ...”

As she was saying those words, she was looking at the screen and pushing buttons on the camcorder.

I saw my credit card, still sitting in my lap, along with my Food City card and my receipt, in her camcorder screen. I grabbed them immediately and put them out of sight. I said, “No, thank you.” She walked away like it was no big deal and headed for the lady parked in front of me, who was just finishing getting some gas into a small can.

The same dialogue repeated itself. It dawned on me that camcorder lady was pointing her device at that woman’s hands. Those hands — you guessed it — were holding a credit card, as she was actually trying to put the card into her purse on the back seat of her car.

Refused again, camcorder lady simply walked up to a gray Toyota 4 Runner to my left. She had a driver woman and somebody else on the backseat. They left in a hurry, right in front of me. In fact, they drove out of the Gas’N’Go parking lot so fast, you knew they were up to something.

I got their tag and called Gatlinburg Police Department right away. The officer on duty got all the information and assured me they would keep an eye out for them.

My next call was to my credit card company, to change my number, and report that my card may have been compromised. They reassured me they would change it right away.

Please watch out for these camcorder salespeople next time you get gas anywhere in Sevier County.

— Adriana Zoder, who was born in Romania, is an American citizen living with her husband and two children in Gatlinburg.Email to aezoder@gmail.com.