The first time I shoplifted, I almost got away with it. I attempted to slide a Reese’s peanut butter cup in my pocket.
Unbeknownst to me was a clerk who was watching me on camera the entire time. Which was kind of racist. I just happened to be stealing that day. It was completely coincidental. Before I could make it out the store, the clerk removed her klan hood and made me put the Reese’s back.
She had burning crosses for eyes. Though I was terrified, there was a soft vibration that ran through my body. Blood rushed through my veins like a ravishing current. My heart was pumping dopamine. My pupils were dilated. I felt alive.
But regardless of her stance on racial superiority, I was wrong.
I made myself a promise that day: I was never going to steal again.
I kept that promise up until a few years ago when I discovered the never-ending sale at the self-check-out line. While taking my groceries to my car, I noticed there was a pack of bottled waters that I had mistakenly forgotten to scan. “Honest mistake. I’ll just run in and scan the water.”, I thought to myself.
I made it about half-way in before I felt that soft vibration take over me.
Then, a tiny voice in my head that sounded a lot like Don Cheadle told me,
“What’s a pack of water to a corporation?”
Don was right. I looked from my left to my right. There was no one coming to stop me because no one knew. What I didn’t know was that this was an initiation to a life of petty but necessary crime.
Since then I have stolen hundreds… no thousands.. no… millions of dollars worth of goods from the self-checkout line. You name it, I stole it.
Organic honey crisp apples?
Been there. Done that. Got a t-shirt. 13, actually.
Household cleaning items?
Does a duck quack?
Well, not yet. But only because they keep those locked up.
I’m not a complete monster, I have a code.
1. I never steal from small businesses.
2. And I always pay for some of my items.
Other than that, I have no moral dilemma when it comes to stealing from the self-checkout. I’m a goddamn pirate. I don’t even flinch when the machine says “Remove the un-scanned item. Help is on the way.”
A few months ago, my favorite store to steal from installed cameras on each of the self-checkout stations. I guess they think this will deter people from stealing. Not me. I came to do crime. And there’s not a cashier in this city who can stop me. That’s not a declaration, that’s an invitation.
I mean sure, it is possible that my impulsive inability to resist the urge to steal is an undiagnosed case of kleptomania, but that’s probably just a coincidence.
A concerned friend once asked me if all of this thievery was worth it. I paused for a minute and thought about the exploitive practices of mass food production, capitalism, slavery, and those 10 god-awful seasons of ‘Friends’
“Absolutely!”, I replied.