May 18, 2010

Illegal? Kinda. Sorta. Maybe.

My best friend decided to switch to the Senior Public in our town, while I remained at the 1-thru-8 Catholic school. It seems as though she picked up a lot of “skills” shortly after she transferred, and then would enlighten me with her new knowledge, notably shoplifting. Turns out, I was GREAT at it. I was a natural-born, sticky-fingered, over-privileged cliché. I was completely addicted to the adrenaline rush, which never seemed to deplete the more I stole. I just took bigger and more risky things. This was also before CCTV was everywhere, and only really Music Stores had the electronic security systems (which were no match for me [insert evil laugh here]). I would usually go with a friend and we would buy a 25¢ bag from the department store and then completely fill it. My mom never questioned anything, mainly because I had a job and was making about $50 a week (which was a lot for a 14 year old).

There was an entire year where I was out of control. I would even steal when I was shopping with my grandparents. When I started high school, I was taking orders from other kids for perfumes, clothes, hats, jewellery, makeup, you name it. The perfume was my forte, particularly anything Calvin Klein. Then, my life as a career petty thief came smashing to a halt.

The girlfriend I was with that day took pride in thinking that older men found her sexy... so when we were in the parking lot of the department store and a man approached us, she distinctively assumed he was trying to pick her up. “What’s in the bags, ladies?” I started to feel a bit sick to my stomach, like it was on fire and getting hotter and heavier by the second. I knew what was going on. My friend was still in some kind of pathetic denial and was performing a disturbing flirt routine on this man who was at least 3 times our age. He then grabbed the bags and said, “I’m pretty sure there are items in here that you young ladies did not pay for, and you are both under arrest!” JESUS FUCKING MURPHY.

I became slightly light-headed and all I could think about was how D-E-A-D I was going to be when my parents found out. I was totally petrified. We were brought into a room in the back of the store and he got our phone numbers to call our parents. My mother showed up first. Her eyes were on fire. I think it was a combination of angry tears and pure hell fire. We got into the car and after a few rounds of yelling the “What were you thinking?” speech, she swore. I had never heard her swear before. “Just you fucking wait until your father gets home!” Oh Shit. I’m actually going to die. He freaks out on me if I chew with my mouth open... what the hell is he going to do with this information? One thing I was certain...that weird vein in the middle of his forehead was totally going to rupture.

Then... days past... and nothing. It was torture. He never confronted me. NEVER. I almost wanted him to just get it over with. Maybe he was just TOO angry or disappointed. It was weird. I was grounded for a month. My official punishment was that I was banned from that particular store (rhymes with Smears) for 1 year and I had to write an essay on shoplifting. The one thing I learned while writing that was that they purposely put items of “interest” in inconspicuous locations to actually encourage shoplifters to take them... and then bust them. That’s twisted! Why not just keep the perfume under glass and everyone goes home happy. I guess the security guard needs to earn his salary somehow.

That day pretty much cured my kleptomania, although I did have isolated lapses during the next couple years. It was hard to stop, and I believe it was an addiction. I think the scare of that day helped, and the reality that the next time I would likely experience the back of a squad car. No thanks!

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