Embarrassmonth: Been Caught Stealing
I stood in the aisle. My friend Jay pulled off his baseball glove to grab a can of soda. Welch’s grape.
“Yea, real hot out there. But this should do the trick,” he said. I nodded. We then started for the register, him first, me behind. All of the sudden the candy section caught my eye, particularly a King Size Butterfinger. I stopped dead in my tracks. And he stopped, too, but not for candy.
“You know, actually, strawberry soda. Got more of a taste for that. I’m going to go see,” he said, turning around.
We were a couple of 10-year-old boys just wasting the Summer days away. Bikes, video games and sandlot baseball was all we did. We broke away from the dusty field to grab a pop at the gas station, but I really wasn’t all that thirsty. Apparently my sweet tooth was throbbing because I kept an eye on that candy bar. No cash with me, though.
“You know, don’t got any. What kind of gas station doesn’t have strawberry soda?” Jay yelled, rummaging through the cooler. Meanwhile, the cashier was taking someone’s cash for gas, so I reached for the Butterfinger package.
“Okay, I’ve got it! Cream soda!” Jay said, holding it in the air to show me. I pulled my hand back faster than during a game of quarters.
“Oh, cool,” I said, just hanging back. I also began to stage my move. He’d pay for it, surely distracting the cashier and allowing me to slip it in my pocket. I stood there a moment while watching Jay. He reached the front of the line. So I reached for it again, keeping my hand on the candy bar. But I couldn’t, so I let go.
Apparently I was too much a goody two shoes. I would really have to dig deep. Time was running out as the cashier had the drawer open and was making change. I prepared myself again to snag the bar, but out of nowhere a small old woman with curly hair approached me.
“Hey, son, we can see you on these cameras,” she said in her outside voice, shaking her finger at me. “Don’t think about shoplifting nothing, because we see you.”
I turned white as a sheet. Every customer, maybe five in all, turned to stare. So did Jay. The woman stopped shaking her finger but kept the stern scowl on her face a moment longer. I couldn’t even say a word after she left.
My friend popped open his cream soda and took a quick chug. I didn’t have a reputation for stealing, so he just assumed the woman was mistaken. “Crazy old lady. Should lock her up in a nursing home,” he said.
And I didn’t have the heart to tell him she was right, I really was trying to steal.