Friday, May 04, 2007
Confessions of an Accidental Shoplifter
I shop with my stroller. We go out walking in the neighborhood and stop into shops for our errands. That means I use the stroller basket and sometimes Hazel's lap to hold our things, rather than a cart or hand basket. And that means we've developed a history of accidental shoplifting.
The first time was in November of 2005. I remember because my friend Kat was visiting from Colorado and it was a rare occasion that we had gone into Manhattan. We spent a fun day at Chelsea Market and were wandering back to Union Square to catch the subway home. (See picture with sunglasses - same outing.) On the way we stopped into a children's store, and while we were looking at different toys I handed Hazel a cute rattle to keep her occupied; she was on my hip in a sling at the time. Later, on the subway back to Brooklyn, I loosened the sling to hold her on my lap and CLUNK, the rattle that we had not bought clattered onto the seat. I guess she'd dropped it into the sling and I had forgotten I'd even handed it to her. Tally mark #1. In cases like this many people are honest in the extreme and I admire them for it. Such people would return to the store with the rattle. Since moving to New York, or becoming a mother, or both since they were nearly simultaneous, I have adopted a new morality, complete with all shades of gray and the mantra "Do what you gotta do." In this particular case, halfway home with a very cranky baby and not even remembering where the store was, we kept the rattle and have quite enjoyed it actually. Guilt lasted about a day and then I got over it. It was accidental, after all.
There have been a handful of similar cases since then - a bag of peaches tucked into the stroller canopy while grocery shopping, an avocado the same dark color as the stroller basket, a toothbrush handed to Hazel in the stroller to entertain, and then tucked behind her back, all forgotten or not seen until it was too late. My life here relies on inertia, and once we're moving in one direction, like HOME, it's not an option to change that direction and return. Let me be more honest - it is an option of course. If I left my wallet at the store you bet I'd return. Rather, it's a gray area in which I weigh the cost-benefit of returning and "doing the right thing", and somehow what I "gotta do" always wins out.
The reason I write about it now is that it happened again last week. We were shopping at our local Rite Aid and I had the stroller pulled up next to the deodorants while I looked at toothpaste. It's a tough call at Rite Aid - I can either park the stroller in the middle of the aisle so Hazel can't reach anything, but also no one can pass; or, I can pull it up to one side so people can pass but Hazel can mess with stuff on the shelf. Rite Aid's a busy place around here so it's always the latter. While I was lost in the jungle of choosing a toothpaste there was a loud bang & clatter - Hazel had kicked about a dozen deodorants off the shelf. I grabbed the closest toothpaste, moved the stroller, put the deodorants back, and headed to check-out. Of course when we got home and I took Hazel out of the stroller I saw on the footrest a Brut deodorant. It barely even phased me. I had to get lunch for Hazel, change two diapers, and feed Ginger STAT.
I don't condone real shoplifting. And I don't feel bad about these things we've obtained without paying. I guess I find it interesting, noteworthy, almost in an objective way, that I've come to accept this, like so many other things, as part of life now. If something like this happens when the kids are old enough to understand, we'll certainly have to make a production about returning any little stick of gum taken without paying, and tack on a couple FHE lessons on honesty. But for now I'm just doing what I gotta do to survive. Too bad Brut's not our brand.