Theft and Death

Posted August 18, 2014

When I was a kid I stole a Charleston Chew from a candy store.

Phew. That feels good to say.

I believe I was around eight years old and was in Ocean Beach, Fire Island. Additionally, I was so bad at pulling off this heist that I pulled the candy bar out of my pocket while I was still on the steps of the store and got caught by the owner.  He scolded me and took the candy bar. The punishment  felt so severe to me that I shamefully walked back to day camp, promptly confessed to my best friend, and told him to hit me once upside the head so that I remembered never to do it again.

It didn’t work (Clearly his fault).

When I was in high school I occasionally stole 99 cent Arizona Ice Teas from the local convenient store after basketball practice. If I went into the store with teammates, and our big gym bags, and I didn’t have enough cash left over after lunch to get a Gatorade and the ice tea, I would just put the ice tea in the side pocket of my bag.

I learned this from watching other teammates do it, so there were more couple people responsible for even more unaccounted for ice teas. Although I only did this two or three times, it’s still embarrassing to admit. Especially when you realize that all I had to do was ask a friend for a dollar.

But kids make stupid decisions (I certainly made more than the two I listed above).

We’ve heard it countless times and will likely hear it countless times more. It’s something I’ll one day try and repeat to myself when I have kids.

It’s a simple fact of life. One that, it should go without saying, is not punishable by death.

Everybody has been inundated with discussion about why Michael Brown’s alleged theft of $49 worth of Swisher Sweet cigars is irrelevant to the situation in Ferguson, MO, so I’ll refrain from uttering the same argument. I just believe it’s important for everybody who’s watching/listening to what’s going on to remember the times they screwed up when they were a kid. It’s adds a little perspective.

If I had been shot hours after taking one of those Arizona Ice Teas, how would the narrative of my life have been told? If you were killed the day after you hit a classmate on the school yard or cheated on a test, how would you be portrayed?

We all make mistakes, but hopefully nobody is hurt in the process, and we’re able to grow up and learn to not screw up in the future. I don’t drink Arizona Ice Teas anymore, but I also don’t steal crap from convenience stores. I stopped operating on that level of idiocy when I aged. I became (more) responsible.

Let’s not let people think they’re above admitting their own faults just to make excuses for a defenseless act and story that is becoming all too familiar in our country.