Sunday, July 17, 2011

Thou Shalt Not Steal

Think about this for a moment. Have you ever stolen anything? Are you willing to 'fess up? How did you feel? What made you do it? Any lessons learned? How do you feel about theft? Write about this . . . This writing exercise will help you focus on some of your feelings.

I can't remember how old I was the one time I stole something. I was in elementary school at West Elementary in Levelland, Texas. I must have been about eight. On that walk to and from school I had to pass a little store. Several of us from the neighborhood walked together. I surely don't remember why I walked into that store, I do know it wasn't a normal part of the routine.

Just inside the door of that store I saw an alluring display of lemons. Piled high. Shiny. Smelling like sunshine. My mouth watered and my jaws clenched at the thought of how a lemon would taste. Next to the lemons a stack of miniature boxes of salt made the coupling complete. The tiny blue box of Morton's salt with the little girl holding her umbrella looked like the larger one at home. After all, what's a lemon without salt?

I must have grabbed that lemon and box of salt and stuffed them under my shirt. I don't remember.

I do know I didn't get caught. I do know that when I bit into that lemon it didn't taste like sunshine. It was really sour. It was even bitter. It was awful. I threw it in a garbage bin somewhere along the route home. Guilt overpowered me. I felt ill. I knew stealing was bad. I feared that the Hand of the Lord was going to come right from the Heaven's and punish me.

I never stole anything again.

Care to share in the comments about your thoughts.


Moonine Sue Watson said...

Parents used to take a child back to the store and make them apologize to the owner and return the item. I wonder today if a parent did that if the store owner would press charges? Stealing is so rampant now I think store owners have lost their patience with it. Also stores are owned by big corporations not so many are privately owned anymore. I think the privately owned o nes would be more inclined to cooperate with a parent.

Both my parents told me their childhood story of stealing so I learned a lesson from their story and never took anything from a store. That teaches the value of stories.

Erin said...

I'm so ashamed of my thieving story! I did it, while at the same time HATING people who had stolen things from me! I don't even know how many times I did it, but while in school, I stole several library books. I have always loved books, and didn't even see my first library until I was in 2nd grade. I was awestruck! But, somewhere along the way, I decided I didn't like turning those books in, I guess. Not sure, exactly. I just know I didn't always check out some of the books I took. At one point I moved from my dad's house to my mom's, and some of the books I packed I didn't have room for in my new room, and they went to the attic. It wasn't until I was married and my mom dug out a box of books from the attic that I saw an old Trixie Belden book from my elementary school library and remembered my shame. I'm still ashamed, and shocked that I ever did such a thing. I know I would never have stolen a book from a friend. I had a friend for a short while who turned out to have a serious problem with stealing, and I tried to talk some sense into her. Really? Like she would have listened to me if she'd seen my Trixie collection!
I haven't taken anything else since then, and I still can't explain why I did that back then. My husband is the only other person who knows this story, until now.

Beth Trissel said...

I enjoyed your memory. And come to think of it, I still have a library book that's been here for several decades.

Winona said...

I remember Erick took one small candy from Hickory Farms when he was 5. He opened it when we got to the car. I made him take it back. Bill tried to take some kind G.I. Joe by stuffing it in the sleeve of his shirt. He was 10. The store owner was friends with a local cop and had him come infuse the fear of God in him. Of course, the wrath of Mom and Dad wasn't so easy. But, Sue, you're right there is too much stealing and other crime nowadays.

Erin, I think we've all done something we aren't proud of. But, Trixie Belden--she's so tempting. Especially to young girls learning the power of reading. Guess you could donate your books back to a library. Or, teach your children about stealing.

Angie Kay Dilmore said...

Nona, the only way I associate lemons with salt is alongside tequila, but that was a long time ago. Once I ate a grape in a grocery produce section. I never forgot that feeling of guilt.

Trooper said...

Workers in a large chain store would not hesitate a moment to cooperate with a parent when their chid has stolen somehing. Most have chidren of their own and would want that same cooperation. I don't think I have ever stolen a "thing". There are other ways of taking things of greater value. Reputation,love, even a life. Yo can't return them and pay your money.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

I don't think I ever stole anything. I was a 'goody-two-shoes' growing up...I've taken my children and grandchildren back to the store because they took something without paying. I think most of the time, they were too young to realize they were stealing, but when I discovered the candy or toy, we'd go back to pay for it and I'd stress they can't take without paying.

Renee said...

LOL! Lemons? I've never eaten them outside of adding their flavor to my food or tea. We won't talk about my teenage antics, those days are far gone. When I was little, before first grade, I stole a pack of gum. I don't think I understood that it was stealing just that it was there within hand reach and I wanted gum. If I remember correctly, whoever was caring for me, I think my grandma was visiting, took me back to the store. And made me fess up.

Trooper said...

A little later in life, we often covet and take that which is not rightfully ours to take or give a gift we have been entrusted to keep sacred. Too late, we find that shining appeal of the moment turns more bitter than the lemon leaving a wound susceptible to maore pain when the salt is applied.butson