Confessions of a shoplifter
1:02 p.m. on July 20, 2004
I have probably only stolen 1 or 2 things in the last 5 years, but I used to be a chronic petty shoplifter. I think it is an inherent trait, because my whole family has this problem. My brother was caught stealing shorts from R.E.I. in 1986 and the humiliation set him straight, but my sister still pockets trinkets and small items from time to time. Even my parents had a terrible problem of taking hotel towels and pillows. One time I was staying with them in a hotel in Vancouver BC, and my Dad swiped some nice Irish coffee mugs from a room service tray sitting outside someoneís room.

In the first grade while walking home from Catholic School, my Friend Anna Giuntoli and I stopped into the little Foothill market that we frequented. When we came out, Anna showed me several candy items that she did not pay for. I was aghast and told her to return them. When she refused, I returned them myself, snitching on Anna. It took me a full week before I realized the implication of what she had done: Hey, FREE CANDY!

Thus began my prepubescent reign as petty thief and recruited all the neighbor kids. My friends and I had all the free candy we would ever need and then some. We did not stop at candy. Anything small that would fit in the palm of a hand or a jacket pocket was primed for the taking. One time I did get caught and banned from the Westside grocery for taking a pack of gum. That sucked, because it was the closest store to my house.

Back in the 70ís and early 80ís you could run free in your small town, and that we did. We had orchards and creeks and parks and ball fields and golf courses and the whole downtown area to roam and wreak havoc. We broke into private pool clubs in the winter and raided the soda machine, we broke into schools and churches and the golf course clubhouse and even a private home that was empty (we used it as our clubhouse). There were some close calls with the police, but we knew our way around in the dark and ran ourselves to safety every time.

I outgrew my days as a hoodlum, but still continued to shoplift little items from stores well into my late 20ís. I simply could not help it.

After meeting Sasha and becoming a better-balanced person, it just stopped occurring to me to take things without paying for them. The last thing I stole was a T-shirt for my sister from a gym. I would have paid for it, but they would only accept special gym dollars of which I had none.





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