This week's writing prompt from MamaKat is to write about a time you stole something.
When I was 12 years old, I went camping with my best friend Donna, and her family. We spent the week in a family campground in Vermont where the brochure suggested endless activities and fun, but the reality was boredom and bugs. Most of that week, we spent hanging out at a granite outcropping with the rest of the pre-teens in the campground, listening to top 40's hits and trying to act cool. We bought soda and candy and gum and teenie bopper magazines in the campground store and lounged at the playground with our loot, wishing it were just a little warmer. (It's chilly up in the mountains, even in August)
Sometime during the week, somebody came up with the idea that we each should steal something from the store. It didn't have to be big, it didn't have to be pricey, it just had to be stolen. Then we would meet back at the swingset and tell each other the exciting and edgy tales of our shoplifting experience. Everybody HAD to do it...otherwise, how would we know who was cool? And at age 12, I really wanted to be cool.
Donna, her little sister Kara, and I all went into the store at the same time. We got some more soda and candy and spent about 45 minutes wandering up and down the aisles of a store that was about 20 x 20. Donna pocketed some gum. Her sister stuck a packet of Fun Dip in her shorts. I still didn't have anything.
While Donna and Kara were paying for their soda and candy, I made a big production out of looking at a display of decorative pins on the counter. I pulled them all out and spread them in front of me. Unicorn, rainbow, hearts, music note, stars and moon, teddy bear. Kind of like a box of Lucky Charms to wear. I noticed that there were more music notes in the bucket than any other. Not a big seller. Nobody was buying them. Bingo!
As Kara was getting her change, I took one last look at the pins in front of me, sighed dramatically, and swept them all back into the bucket. All except the music note pin, which I had curled in my fingers. When I paid for my soda and candy, the campground owner looked me right in the eye and tsked. SHE KNEW! SHe totally knew we were all going into her store and taking stuff. And she wasn't saying anything. She wasn't telling our parents. She wasn't making us give it back. SHe was just giving us a look. Maybe the look was meant to guilt us into putting everything back.
I didn't put it back, of course. I had to present my ten cent pin at the playground so I could be cool. We all did. We hung with the cool kids for a whole nother day and a half until somebody came by the granite outcropping with a six pack he had swiped from his dad's cooler. Then I immediately became uncool when I moved on over to the horseshoe pits to do gymnastics, sans alcohol.
Last year, K and I were talking about times we had stolen something and we were arguing with one another about who was worse. K thinks she was worse, because she stole a half a piece of chalk from Sunday school for her chalkboard at home. "I stole it from church! I stole a piece of chalk from God!"
I put it in perspective for her: it was a broken piece of chalk. You even took the smaller piece. That wasn't bad. But, I -- I stole something new and unbroken. I stole it from a little mom and pop store, from people who made a living from a seasonal business. I stole it from people who really could not afford to have bratty kids shoplifting from them. I know that my deed was worse. I know, because that look still haunts me. It still makes me feel shame.
I never stole anything again. Maybe that's what it was for, all along.