Time for Mama Kat’s again. This week for our Writer’s Workshop I stole prompt #4.) You stole WHAT!?! Spill it! Okay I’ll give it back… I’m just borrowing it for my post. I mean in my time I’ve stolen kisses, stolen boyfriends, stolen moments of time but as far as stealing material items? That’s a whole ‘nother story.
When I was little we never really went much of anywhere other than neighbors houses or relatives houses. There were six of us so I am sure to take all six of us anywhere was WAY more trouble than it was worth to my poor beleaguered mother. When we got to go to an actual store it was a real treat for me. There were a couple of little country stores in our town where most our “shopping” for groceries was done and on rare occasion we would get to venture to one of the next towns to get groceries.
As much of an impact as the aftermath of this occurrence had on the rest of my childhood (who am I kidding… it still torments me! I can still feel my cheeks burning just thinking about it). I can’t remember whether I was with my aunt or mother when the dirty deed was done. I seem to have blanked that part out. I do remember that I had asked for a candy bar. Considering that we never made ends meet with six hungry children to feed in addition to my parents and all the neighborhood kids who seemed to find their way to our house at dinnertime, I knew the answer would almost certainly be no, but I asked anyway. Guess what the answer was? Yup. No, not that the answer was yup but yup, you guessed that the answer was no. Did I make that totally clear now? The answer was unequivocally NO.
I think I moped around and probably stomped the raw wood floor (which I can still see in my mind because the plan that formulated in my head at that moment seared those dark splintered wood planks into my mind) and maybe even cried a bit and then in a fit of insanity (it must have been insanity because I knew better) I stole the candy bar. I just slipped it right in my pocket and out to the car. I’m thinking I must have been with my aunt because I seem to remember being in the back seat of this beetle she had (or maybe it was my uncles that she drove sometimes). I don’t know where the rest of the kids were. I can’t imagine that my aunt would have taken only me to the store but maybe she did and maybe that’s why I was bold enough to take it because any other time it would have been the six kids in our family and the 4 of my aunt’s kids, so I guess I was with my aunt alone. Chances are that if any of the other kids were present someone would have ratted me out before we could get to the car… or blackmailed me out of the candy bar and then they would have been the ones caught with it so for some unknown reason I had to have been alone with my aunt.
Anyway, I remember trying to slink in the back seat of her car and surreptitiously eat the candy bar before we got home and had it taken away by one of the older children. I remember looking up and meeting my aunt’s eyes (Yeah, I guess it must have been my aunt) in the rear view mirror and the look of utter shame and disappointment in them as they locked on my chocolate smeared mouth and teeth. I felt so ashamed of myself and the fact that I had made her have that look in her eyes. Not to mention the fact that I KNEW there was no way she wasn’t going to tell my mother, or worse yet, my father.
I was more than certain that the telling was going to be followed by the beating and nothing was worse than the waiting for a beating. You remember how when you’d misbehave and your mother would say “Just wait til your father gets home!” That was the absolute worst. I’d rather take a beating right then and there than to wait. Even though I’d usually never “get it” when he got home the anticipation, nay…DREAD, was much worse than any punishment that he could have doled out.
True to form, when we arrived home my aunt told my mother and what happened next was worse than any beating I could have imagined. She marched me back to the store and made me ‘fess up to my crime in front of all the other patrons in the store and then apologize in front of everyone. That humiliation of everyone knowing I was a thief was far greater punishment than anything she could have doled out physically. And it left far deeper wounds and scars. Believe me, any time anyone tried to tempt me to take anything that wasn’t mine (up to this day) those feelings would come rushing back and stop me dead in my tracks. In fact, the fear of someone even thinking that I may have stolen something has spurred me to return things that have accidently been left in my cart even after I was safely in the confines of my car or even at home.
I remember once I was at Walmart and I was going to buy batteries (among other items) and somehow the batteries slid underneath my purse and I didn’t realize it until I got out to my vehicle and was loading my purchases in my vehicle. I lifted my purse to put it in the car and saw the batteries underneath my purse and almost had heart failure. I put my purse right back down on top of the batteries and walked right back in to customer service and waited in the LONG line and showed the girl my receipt (to show I had NOT paid for the batteries) and then moved my purse and showed her how they had been under there and I hadn’t meant to walk out of the store without paying for them. She looked at me like I was crazy and then said “Well, what do you want me to do about it?” I told her I wanted to pay for them and she said “Why? You were already out in the parking lot… why didn’t you just leave?” I tried to explain to her it was because it would be dishonest and it would be stealing and she said “But you were in the clear. No one would have known!” I told her that I would have known and I couldn’t live with myself knowing I had done that. I practically had to force her to take the money.
So, that’s the only time I can think of that I purposely stole something. When I was about 5 or 6 years old and almost 50 years later, it still haunts me.