I recently had to give a presentation on a student at school. One of the required items to mention was a similarity between my life and his. I shared with my peers (well, sorta--bunch of 20-somethings finishing their 1st credential qualify?) that the only thing we had in common was the fact that we both got caught shoplifting. Recently, during an outing to a work site at Walgreen's, my student tried to stick something in his coat and walk out with the 5-finger discounted item. I too had done that and was caught. While I don't know if Bernie stopped (at least with me because he's been grounded until next year), I do know that when I got caught that was my last attempt. During my entire junior high school career, I shoplifted constantly. Poor? yes...bored?...yes what other reasons did I need? I carried a large bag which to a small extent carried my school stuff. I would walk down an aisle running my bag along the shelf, knocking items in along the way. Make-up, cassette tapes (come on..you remember those, right?)...whatever small item would make it in my bag without notice. I would then walk out happy to be out and go home to enjoy my new unpurchased purchases. No, I was not aware of the cameras that lurked above me in black glass domes nor was I aware of the hired pigs that roamed the store. I was fearless, invincible--no one could stop me! Except the guy at Rite-Aid.
It was evening on a school night at the end of 8th grade. Why was I there with my 2 girlfriends? Why was I so far from home window shopping the drugstores at the strip mall? Those are questions I cannot answer. I was a great liar, which probably explained much of that, but I had no business being there at my age alone. (lessons here people!) I roamed Rite-Aid, which was called Thrifty Payless back then (ew, I hate "back then" usage) and my girlfriends and I were making a killing in the music section. (here I go) Back then, the security on those items was a little shaky since taking them out of the store was easier than taking them out of that big white plastic case they were sold in. I did not notice the man beside me checking out music in my section, which was teenage music that only a teenager could appreciate--top 40 stuff. That should've been my first clue. I also was getting so cocky about my shoplifting skills that I didn't even use them, hello--dropping tapes into my bag without caring who was around me. When it came time to check out, I used the old "make a purchase, but nothing close to the value of the items sitting at the bottom of my bag" purchase of gum then proceeded to exit the store with my friends. Quickly behind us came "the man." He yelled for me to stop. Why didn't I run...hmmmmm. It was dark, in a parking lot, no parents around...I was a glutten. He asked to check my bag. I reluctantly pulled out my tapes. Boy was I easy...and a good friend as I refrained from ratting them out as I coveted the music they got to take home for free. It was then that he took me, and only me, to the back of the store. Ever wonder what's back there? Bathrooms, stocking rooms, closets...and a little room the size of a hall bathroom for the sole purpose of grilling and booking naughty kids. My friends were left in the parking lot with the decision of 'do we leave her and rejoice in our freedom' or 'do we help the poor sap out of her miserable situation?' I did not reflect on either as I sat before this man who looked like Eric Estrada without the dimples or tv show. Papers came out of a drawer, I sat in front of him without a desk between us...so vulnerable and busted. The questioning began, and this...my dear friends...is where my genius comes in. I didn't grow up going to GATE schools for nothing, people. Oh no, I'm a genius and I shined that night. name? without hesitating for even a blink of an eye I blurted out the name of the girl I hated the most at that time. The girl down the street who tormented me on the bus, the girl who even to this day as adults will not crack a smile at me or let bygons be bygons. Name? Kelly *******. What's your phone number so I can call your parents? My parents are out of town. I was trying to get my grandma a birthday present but I don't have any money and my parents didn't leave me with anything. I'm barely eating while my parents are on some 2-week vacation at some remote resort. What's your number anyway? (proceed to give Kelly's number.) Address? again Kelly's. Parents' names? you guessed it...Craig and Mary. School I attend? Bingo! She actually went to Bullard Talent while I went to Computech. I sat there and gave the most pathetic sob story, as Kelly of course, while he took it all in. He didn't even try to call my parents. It felt like an eternity sitting there with him when all of a sudden a knock came at the door. Eric Estrada minus dimples minus tv show opens the door to a tall, hot young guy. 'Hi, I'm Yvette's cousin. I heard about her being here and thought I should take her home.' My jaw dropped...dude, if you are my cousin does that mean we can't make-out? There behind him were my 2 friends, holding the straight lines across their faces. Eric Estrada gets his name and age (22, holy cow..I'm in love with my cousin) and releases me to a signature from this completely strange relation of mine. We somberly walk the entire length of the store to the exit, which never looked so dang good in my life. Ah, the breath of fresh air, the night moon was beautiful. We got into the car of the guy and his friend and we shut the doors behind us. Bwahahahahaha! came the bursts of laughter from us all. My friends opted for door #2...save the poor idiot. Upon my incarceration my friends made a dash for the McDonald's across the street and found 2 guys willing to act as my relatives to bail me out. What kind of world do we live in where a couple of guys are willing to lie to bail out a thief? At the time, it was the most awesome world. I wanted to formally thank my rescuer, but I think he drew the line on ethics by not making out with a minor, though it would've been our little secret that I would've shared with every kid at school. Alas, he dropped me off and reminded me that I was banned for 6 months from the store. OK hot Cuz, I'll stay away for 6 months...or I'll at least relay the info of banishment to Kelly, 2 doors down. I've been honest in my purchases ever since. Can't expect to get off so freely twice in a lifetime...there's only so many times I can rat on Kelly and sleep at night.