Bob and I were shopping yesterday when I happened to spy a young boy in the self-serve bakery. I had seen him before on another shopping trip blithely munching on a cookie. I stood and watched him as he eyed the cabinet, looked both ways, and then reached in and took a doughnut, closed the door with one hand, then brought the stolen treasure up to his lips and took a bite.
He clearly saw me looking at him and didn’t seem in the least fazed. I approached him, I couldn’t help myself, and said, “You know that taking that doughnut is stealing.”
To which he replied:
“It’s OK, the store lets you do it, and my mom says it’s OK.”
I was flabbergasted! I told him that it is not OK to take things without paying for them. He went on to say that he would tell his mother and she would pay for it.
Later as I passed the checkout lanes I spied the doughnut kid and his mother. Again I couldn’t help myself… I went up to the boy and said, “Hey, did you tell your mother about that doughnut you ate?” Amazingly, his mother said, “Is that the woman you told me about?” and then to me, “I always let him get something and then I pay for it when we leave.”
“I see.” I said, and turned to walk away. Here is where I think it got really weird…
Suddenly this big hulk of a man came up to me and asked if I knew that boy and I told him no. Then he says in a booming voice, “That’s not cool lady! That’s not cool, she could have gone off on you!”
You know how it is with snappy come backs. You never think of them until you are long gone. Two things came to mind later. The safe answer would have been “Yes.” And the smart-ass retort would have been, “Then we are both glad that he was not your son.” I concede that the latter would have been, very “uncool”.
The whole situation left me thinking, when is it cool to steal even just a doughnut or a cookie? What kind of message are you sending when you allow your child to take what they did not pay for? Aren’t you setting him up to believe that the little items don’t count, and that it is OK to steal?
The thing is, they do count and in a big way! In 2014 alone *25 large retailer’s losses were approximately $44.2 billion (based on a University of Florida survey). That’s BILLIONS not hundreds, or thousands, or even millions, but billions.
Some may think,
“Well what’s it to me? They are big corporations who factor in shrinkage (see below) and they can afford the losses”
But they can’t, and in the end guess who pays for those losses? We do. We pay for every doughnut, pair of jeans, small appliance and more in higher prices when we shop.
So when we choose to turn our backs to even the petty theft ,and not say anything just because it is a kid, then we are agreeing to allow the child to continue to steal and to paying more for our goods in the future.
Now that, my friends, is uncool.
Oh yes, and as it happens we ended up in the line the boy and his mother were in and Bob realizing who she was asked if I wanted to choose another line. I said, No. The mother looked up and the end of the checking process, saw me, and then said,
“Oh, and did you get that doughnut for my son?”
The checker said “No mam.” and added it to her total.
- Annual Retail Theft Survey: Jack L. Hayes International, Inc.
- The Truth Behind Shoplifting at Wall-Mart, a ton of money: Business Insider
SHRINKAGE: The loss of inventory that can be attributed to factors including employee theft, shoplifting, administrative error, vendor fraud, damage in transit or in store and cashier errors that benefit the customer. Shrinkage is the difference between recorded and actual inventory. Definition quoted from Investopedia