Reason #23: I'm a Thief
I was thirsty and I was broke. It was sitting there, alone. And, I had a solid 10 seconds before anyone would notice. It was the perfect crime. Until it wasn't.
But, we'll get back to that.
My life of crime started (sort of) when I was very young. Maybe 8? My parents were in a weekly bowling league and my brother and I were allowed to wander the adjoining mall on our own. It was a different time. Which, now that I think about it -- the fact that things are different now -- may be our fault.
We were hanging out with one of the sons of another bowler. And, we were checking out the candy aisle of the upstairs Walgreen's.
Even at 8, I was perceptive. And, I could tell things weren't quite right. Our young friend, an evil influence if there ever was one, was hungry. But, he had no money. And, he had his young eyes set on a Snicker bar. Good taste aside, this kid was trouble.
Now, here's the thing about this moment: to this day, I'm not sure if I was guilty. I remember him taking the candy bar. I think I remember my brother grabbing one, too. I have NO recollection of taking one for myself.
I DO recall being caught. At least, I think I was caught. I was hanging back, away from the two marauders when they were nabbed. But, I felt nabbed, too. So, when my dad showed up in full uniform to retrieve my brother (did I mention my dad was a policeman?), I followed them downstairs in shame.
And, when my dad punished my brother by forcing him to sit behind him while he finished bowling, I sat directly behind my brother, punishing myself for my proximity to the crime.
Clearly though, the damage was already done. I had gotten a taste of crime, and I was doomed to a life of it. That is, unless someone, or something, intervened.
So, there I was, 10 years later. I was standing in the cooler of the steak house that employed me as a young dishwasher. I was thirsty. I was broke. The tiny carton of chocolate milk was mine if I wanted it. All I had to do was drink it quickly, before anyone walked into the cooler.
I did what any thirsty criminal would do. I ripped open the container and slammed the entire contents into my mouth and down my throat. One move. Not even enough time to taste it.
What I didn't do, was check the expiration date.
I guess I'll always be a thief. I can't take that back.
But, I promise you this: I'll never steal again.