Desperate Theft

I stopped in my local grocery store to pick up “just” an avocado, with big plans on making a raw soup today.  Never have I been able to stick to that one thing I had in mind.  The basil looked beautiful and had me thinking of pesto.  Cucumbers and apples disappear quickly in my house, so I bought a bunch of each.  And those Asian pears, yum.  I picked up two.  A fresh, baked loaf of French bread always brings on a big hug from my tween, so I couldn’t resist.  Before getting to the checkout counter, I had to hoist my overfull shopping basket on my hip so I wouldn’t dislocate a shoulder.  I was physically conscious of my tendency to over shop.

At the same time, just outside the entrance, a small drama was quickly escalating.  A woman stopped for shoplifting was trying desperately to get away.  In an instant at least ten, large men were on her, blocking her escape.  The cashier greeted me with excessive cheer, “how are you today?  Did you find everything all right?”  Blip, blip, blip, “Ma’am, do you know if these are collards or kale?” As she rang up my items, I saw the shoplifter being ushered into an office.  The employees dispersed exclaiming loudly about how much food she managed to stuff in her backpack.  I swiped my debit card, punched in my code to complete my sale.  “Thanks for shopping {here}.  You have a nice day.”  I dashed out with my heavy bags, stuffed with food.

I got home and the contents of my shopping experience spilled out onto my kitchen counter.  I usually look at a counter full of fresh fruits and vegetables with delight, imagining all the possible things to make and eat.  Marveling at the abundance of all that good food.  Not today.  My chest was heavy and my throat tight with emotion.

Shoplifting is a crime, no question.  Some people steal for the thrill, for power, or out of addiction.  Some people steal out of sheer desperation.  I don’t know that woman I saw today, and can’t tell her story.  Yet I know there are a lot of desperate people out there – not out there in that abstract, someplace, somebody whom I may never see, but out there as in our own communities.  I’ve known many friends and family who have lost much during the last several years, it makes me think often, if I lost everything, how would I feed my kids.  If desperate, would I steal?  Would I justify breaking the law?

I am grateful for the abundance I enjoy.  Grateful I don’t have to compromise my ethics out of desperation.  Today, however, that gratitude seems bittersweet.

Is stealing ever okay?

4 thoughts on “Desperate Theft

  1. Beautifully written. And I do think that under certain circumstances, stealing would be ok. Our laws are written in such a way as to seem that everything is black or white, good or bad – there are so many shadings in between. Even if this person shoplifted, not because she was hungry and had no money, but just for a lark – well, I would be concerned for her state of mind that got her to that place.

    • Your post struck a cord with me. Bittersweet. What a good way to describe that sense of gratitude and loss. One of my best friends lost a child last month and my heart breaks for her each time I kiss Ashley good night. Chris was laid off a few weeks ago, yet I am filled with gratitude for what I have; opportunity, support, hope, friendship. How many others find themselves in desperation and isolation. I know I would steal to feed my girls, but you or I will never be so alone that we will need to.

      • Oh Sharla, I’m so sorry for your friend. I just can’t imagine the loss. Thank you for your comment, and I love your perspective. I so agree with your last statement. Love you.

Leave a Reply