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Last Saturday I was strolling down State Street among the parade of holiday shoppers when a scuffle broke out in front of Marshall Field's. A man was getting pinched by the police apparently for shoplifting. A crowd of rubberneckers encircled the scene at a standard radius of ten feet, blocking the doors to the store. Suddenly another scuffle started somewhere beyond the crowd, and the onlookers began to shift and sway, torn between tussles. The instigator of the second disturbance plowed through the crowd, holding three or four shopping bags in each hand. She walked right past the arrest in progress. "Out of my way, goddamnit, I've got children to please," she shouted as she shoved me aside with an elbow and continued toward the store's entrance. "How rude," said a woman next to me, turning back to watch the main event.


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