Weekend Comment Diversion: Been Caught Stealing
Once, when I was 7, I went grocery shopping with my mother and stole a pack of Smarties. It seemed only fair. My mother was notorious for her refusal to buy us treats. I got caught because I was eating them in the backseat on the way home. Subterfuge is not a strong suit when you’re 7. I remember a sharp, “Where did you get those?”, and then being brought back to the store burning with shame and mortification. I was marched up to the cashier and made to confess my crime. The cashier’s response:
“That’s all right. She can keep them.”
My mother was not amused.The Smarties were returned. Now, the Dowager Julien is kind of scary. If she raised her right eyebrow, we started panicking, so I must have been extremely distressed because she chose not to punish me. I decided to punish myself. Judge, jury, and executioner, I was sentenced to hard labour: one week without television. My only other memory of the event is standing on the cold porch trying to watch and listen to the TV through the family room window. I don’t think I lasted the week.
When I was 29, my friend and I went to Ikea for an afternoon because, when you are 29, that is somehow a form of entertainment. After a peruse, and a meatball heavy luncheon, we were getting ready to pay for our oskflrn, when I decided to steal a chocolate bar from their little Swedish food shop. I wanted to see how it felt. I chose the bar because it was small and created plausible deniabilty. I kept it in plain sight in my hand and had my “Oh, I must have forgotten!” all ready. A jar of lingonberry jam, that’s intent. A chocolate bar is an oversight. I had honed my larceny in the 22 intervening years. I was terrified. No one noticed. My friend sang the themesong to Cops to me as we walked out of the store. I was panicking and hissing at her to stop. It felt awful. I was scared straight.
When I wasn’t stealing from Ikea, I taught ESL to adults. As a sometime warm up exercise, I would ask, “What is the largest thing you’ve ever stolen?”. One student claimed a cash register. Another said he had taken an empty soft guitar case with a broomstick inside to a music store and replaced the stick with a guitar. My favourite response of all was charmingly indolent: “I don’t know,” he shrugged, “a girlfriend?”
Welcome to your weekend comment diversion. Please tell us what you have stolen, why, and whether you got away with it. For our purposes, downloads don’t count.