Stealing Candy from K-Mart

At the time, I was not clear on what the word “stealing” actually meant. I knew you were not supposed to take things that do not belong to you, but sometimes temptation overrules. As a kid, you sometimes think that if you want something bad enough that you have the right to take it. As an adult, you realize that this is not the case. That being said, some adults think that they are “entitled” to certain things, but that is another story.

I believe I was five years old at the time. This is the same year I tried lighting matches in my bed! It was a rough year to say the least.

For those of you that are under the age of 30 may not know about K-Mart. It equates to our now Walmart, without all the security cameras. It was a discount department store with everything you could think of to buy.

Inside the store, K-Mart had an open candy counter. It had individual pieces of Brach’s brand toffee and chewy, gooey candies. When I saw open, I mean open. It was a huge square display with hundreds of candies in wrappers that allowed you to mix and match what flavors you wanted to purchase. It was as if the board game Candyland had come to life in the middle of the store! I thought I heard angels singing every time I went near the display!

In the center was a large tower that held the bags that you put the candy in to carry away. It also held a coin box that you put your money in for each candy. Candy costs so much now that a coin box is not practical. Payment for the candy was done on the “honor system”. There was no one to count your candies and no one to take your money. You will never see one of these again, because these days, some people have no honor system!

My mom and I arrive at this magical, candy-land stand. Being a kid, I asked if I could have some candy. Before my sentence was finished and getting to the question mark, my mother said no. I knew the answer before I asked the question, but I gave it a shot. My mom was considered a “health nut” when I was younger, so candy was limited. I was completely bummed out. How am I going to just stare at the candy without tasting any of it?

At that time, you could reasonably leave your child in a store without close supervision. Today, everyone is so paranoid their kid is going to get snatched that I have seen kids on leashes, like a freakin’ dog!

So, off my mother goes to shop for other boring items like toilet paper and what not.

I instantly realize that I am still standing next to the candy counter with no one else around. (Cue the Jaws theme music) I went to the candy counter like a stealthy ninja. I crept around the entire perimeter of the counter to survey the candy and check for employees. (Duna, Duna, Duna) After checking all the angles, I realized no one was paying attention to me. Score!

The candy came in cutely decorated wrappers with shiny, foil edges. They looked like precious gems from a jewelry store to me. I could smell the delicious aroma of caramel, chocolate and other fruity flavors. It smelled like your Halloween candy bag that had all different kinds of candy that blended together. Remember as a kid when you got home from trick or treating and would inhale the luscious scent of your loot? Or, maybe that was just me. It fascinated me how all the smells from different candy mixed together.

Time seemed to stand still as I plotted on how to get some of this beautiful candy into my mouth. I knew I had to move fast. (Duna)

I pick out several pieces and stuffed them into one of my hands. I then open three or four and shove the entire fist full into my mouth. Heaven! I was chewing the nectar of the Gods.

In my other hand, I stuffed the empty wrappers and made a fist to hide the evidence, so you cannot see the foil from the wrappers. I had chosen some caramels with chocolate, so it was a bit hard to chew so many at one time. Oh, I did not have any money, so I did not pay for them. I later found out that this was called stealing. Whatever.

I manage to down several pieces of candy but kept shoveling more in my mouth. This caused me to have “chipmunk cheeks.” I continued to stuff the empty wrappers in my other hand. Idiot. I looked like Augustus Gloop from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I think I may have even been drooling from the side of my mouth a little bit.

As I was enjoying my sugar escapade, my mother had returned and snuck up behind me. I started sweating like a sinner in church!

As my back was facing the candy counter, I managed to drop the candies I had not yet opened. However, I did not drop the wrappers. Do not ask me why. I also managed to get both hands behind my back before mom started in on me.

My mom asked me what I had in my mouth. I just shrugged my shoulders because I still had several un-chewed pieces of candy in my mouth. This was not a qualifying response to my mother. Did I also mention that I still had the chipmunk cheeks? This was a dead giveaway. I guess I am not as much of a ninja as I thought.

My mother states her question again to give me the opportunity to answer. I am now so scared that I can no longer chew. A moment ago, the candy was so sweet and delicious. Now, with the presence of my mother and “the look”, the candy flavor had turned to dust and weeds. I go into panic mode. I would have run, but this would have just made it worse.

My mother grabs my faces and asks me to open my mouth. I refuse. This was a feeble attempt at best.

She moves onto my hands. She asks what I have behind my back. I take out one hand that is empty and show it to her. She, of course, asks to see the other hand. I attempt to put my first hand behind my back and switch out the wrappers. This is when my mom’s patience came to a bitter end. She grabs both of my little, shaking arms. To my horror, all theses little, shiny foils wrappers drift to the ground as if in slow motion. I begin mentally packing my suitcase, as I am sure she is going to send me to military school.

We will skip the lecture portion from my mother, as we have all heard something like it. You know, I said no, and I meant no. I was waiting for the embarrassing tail whippin’ that usually followed these lectures. Nope. It was worse. I would have preferred the whippin’.

Mom makes me get all the wrappers off the floor. She marches me up to the cashier. This is not going to go well for me. I am trying to figure out what dastardly plan was in store for me.

My mom explains to the 16-year-old, giggly teenager cashier what I had just done. She asks the cashier to listen to what I was told to say by my mother in order to apologize for stealing the candy. That poor cashier was trying so hard not to laugh that she had to cover her mouth with her hand.

So, what seemed like hours, I apologize for stealing the candy. I repeat, from my mother, that I would never do it again. I had to hand over the candy wrappers as proof of my theft. It was difficult to see the cashier’s reaction, as I was crying and trying to speak at the same time. It was a rough day.

Many years later as a teenager, I would go shopping with my friends at the mall. Back then, this was the only place teenagers could meet up to visit and chat. I usually went with one to two friends and spent the day roaming the mall. One friend, in particular, had an issue with shop lifting. I could not figure out why she did it at the time. She had money to pay for what she was swiping.

We were in department store and she approached the jewelry counter. She saw a pair of costume earrings that she liked and wanted to own. Instead of paying for them, she slipped the earring of the plastic earring hanger and put them into her pierced ears! Right there in the store! I was horrified and flashed back immediately to the K-Mart store. I was five years old all over again.

After returning home, I thought about the incident for the rest of the night. I had asked my friend why she had taken the earrings and she simply replied, “because I wanted them and they {the store} would not miss them anyway.” I knew she had the money to pay for them, but she just took them.

Shortly after this mall trip, I realized that if you steal once you can and probably will steal again. This leads to lying and cheating in my mind. I thought if my “friend” can steal from a store, she could steal from me. This made me very uncomfortable and nervous. We were at an age where this small decision charted the path for us in later life. I also knew that this was not the first time my friend had taken something that she did not pay for at this store.

At this point, I made a conscious decision to move away from this friendship. Growing up in the South, your “word” meant everything. Deals were made on handshakes and you were expected to honor those deals. I feel the same about paying for what you get.

After the K-Mart event, I never stole another thing in my life. I do not know what happened to “my friend”, but I have a feeling she continued on this negative path.

I want to clarify that this was not a judgement. My parents spent a lot of time showing me right from wrong. Maybe my friend was not taught this lesson.

Some people feel that they are “entitled” to things that they do not work or pay for. I have heard people say they “owe” me. All of this is still stealing if you take it without paying.

My opinion is you always have a choice, usually more than one. Sometimes not all of these choices are easy or good ones. Many times, doing the “right” thing is harder than going along with the crowd. Think about your choices and do your best to make the right choices for yourself, even if it means you are standing alone. Each time you make a “choice” you are deciding your own fate. Choose wisely.

As for me, I stumble along trying to be “mindful” of the choices I make. I keep my word, I do what I say I am going to do, and I do my best to be honest. I may not get it right all the time, but I can look at myself in the mirror with a clean conscious.

Besides, who wants to get arrested for stealing a $5.00 pair of earrings?

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