A person can't go through life and not learn a lesson about stealing something that isn't theirs. This is a lesson I learned early on and something I'll never forget. It has guided me in my life and has helped me in my integrity.
I was about five years old and I used to spend a lot of time with my grandpa while my parents were at work. My grandpa kind of spoiled me by buying me toys and candy and, of course, would take me to the movies all the time.
One afternoon my grandpa had to go to the store to pick some food up for dinner. After we were done filling the cart with food we were standing in the checkout line to pay for the food. As I was standing there, I stared in awe at that damn candy rack. Those candy racks in the register lines at the stores have been there for as long as I can remember, and they will always be there.
My eye caught a package grape Bubble Yum Bubble Gum. I wanted it, and I wanted it bad. For some reason I didn't ask my grandpa if he would get it for me. If I had he would have said yes, but instead when he went up to pay for the food I snagged the bubble gum and shoved it in my pocket. I didn't think anyone would miss it.
We walked out to the van, put the food away and I jumped in the very back. On a side note, that van didn't have any seat belts. The safety requirements for cars back then were ridiculous. I'm surprised a lot if us came out of the early '80s alive. Anyway, I took the gum out of my pocket opened it up and started shoving pieces of it in my mouth as fast as I could. I got four pieces of gum into my mouth before my grandpa asked what that smell was. I was like "oh, crap!" Of course I replied to his question with, "nothing" while my mouth was full of gum.
My grandpa's not stupid, so he pulled over and asked what I had. I slowly crawled up to the front of the van and proceeded to show him a torn purple bubble gum package with one piece left inside. He asked where I got it and I told him I took it from the store. He gave me a very disappointed look, and it's a look I'll never forget. He told me to sit down, so I did. He made a u-turn and we headed back to the store.
I didn't know what to expect, but when we parked into the parking lot my grandpa got out of the van and walked over to the passenger side where I was and opened the door. I got out of the van and he proceeded to tell me that what I had done was wrong. I stole a packet of gum, and after my grandpa explained to me why it was wrong, I felt absolutely terrible about it. My grandpa may have been tough as hell, but he was an honest man.
He took my hand and we walked back into the store where I proceeded to admit to the store manager what I had done, and I apologized. My grandpa paid for the gum and we went home. I think I cried the whole way home because I felt so bad about what I had done. In the end, that experience and the lesson I learned from my grandpa played a huge part in my life and helped shape me into the person that I am today.
What's crazy about this whole thing is that to this day whenever I go to the store, and I'm standing in line at the register to pay for my food, I look over at that rack of candy and remember that experience, and how I felt. It's one of those feelings that I never want to feel again.
Do you remember the first time you ever stole something? Feel free to share your experience if you're so inclined.