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
25 thoughts on “my mom says it’s OK”
Any child who steals should be brought up short. It’s a moral obligation quite apart from a financial burden.
I agree with you, Annie. I can’t understand why some parents today believe that they do not have this responsibility. They simply turn a blind eye, or as in this case allow the child to go and do whatever they please while they shop. Moreover, I can’t believe the response I got from the man passing by. He wasn’t just warning me, he was admonishing me for saying something to the kid’s mother and acting like I was in the wrong.
So glad you were strong enough to comment but very sad that it takes strength. They say that a child who tortures animals can turn into a psychopath, not sure what a child who is allowed to steal might turn into? A banker?
LOL! “… a banker?”
No, but they may end up like those kids I read about, in my second article below, who broke open a jewelry case, and then held their loot over their heads on the way out. They weren’t afraid or hiding it. It was like, “Try and stop us, we dare you!” Scary times.
So, here’s the thing Lynda; would she have even mentioned the “sample” to the teller, if you hadn’t been in line behind her?
All too often – like when I hear someone say “If I EVER catch/ hear/ see you doing …. again, I’ll ….!” The message here would seem to be NOT that what you did was wrong, but that you were dumb enough to actually get caught doing it! ):):
“Do unto others, what you would have them do unto you”
Deb, in today’s society I believe you may be correct. However, when I was growing up the moral compass was so strict you didn’t want to misbehave. When my dad found us out for anything, we got it right then, and if he found out about a second occurrence, you were pretty much wishing you would die right now and just get it over with. 😉 (This usually happened to me when I was with my cousin Bruce, and I was always in up to my neck when we were together! BTW, Bruce always got as good as I got from my dad!)
It’s sad how many adults not only teach their kids it’s OK to steal, but often intentionally use them to do their shoplifting for them (Who is going to prosecute a young child if they get caught?) Where I work (At that large store in the article you site), profit determines the amount of the quarterly bonuses the employees get… so theft not only costs the customers, but also comes out of the employees’ pockets as well.
And you do not want to know how often I find scraps of food throughout the store that very clearly came straight off of one of our shelves. Candy, energy drinks, chicken wing bones (Yes, the chicken wings we sell in the deli!!!)…
I believe you. I see the scraps about the store too. It is disgusting. Weirdly, I am guilty of partaking of items off the shelf if it is an emergency. EX: Tylenol for a headache, candy for low blood sugar, and once, right in front of the druggists counter I served myself up some Pepto Bismol. I never take things that aren’t set priced units, and I never fail to pay for them. And, if the cashier makes a mistake I don’t think, “Ooo! Hurrah for me and thanks for the gift.” It isn’t right.
They don’t hire security shoppers there?
True story: I once worked in a hardware store and noticed this suspicious man wandering the store and fingering everything. He had a few items in his hands and kept looking round and about the store. I thought him suspicious and told the manager. We went back out to the floor and I pointed him out. The manager said come with me, and walked right up to the fellow and then turned to me and said: “This is ‘Joe’ the security shopper.” at which point they both busted up laughing. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one to have made that mistake. 😀
I doubt there was a lesson learned by the mother or the child that day. So much of society today is to distract and direct the issue or responsibility somewhere else, and in this case it was directed at you. I would have mentioned the theft to the manager or someone behind the counter. I used to get worked up about situations like that but it does little good. I’m more likely to speak to parents where I see good being done and I compliment them… like kids who are well-behaved or are polite. I don’t even try to stop the amassing of disrespectful kids anymore. Some day when they are adults committing the same offenses, they’ll land in jail or someone will knock the crap out of them. THEN they’ll get a taste of what “uncool” feels like. 😀
Lori, I do that too. It is so fun to see their faces light up when you compliment their darlings for being caught doing something good! ❤
Conversely, I also tell the manager (when you can find one) when children are doing something grossly abhorrent, such as: Double dipping and eating the crudites directly from the salad bar in a restaurant; A 14 year old young lady in Whole Foods who was poking the wing of a little toy plane into all the ripe peaches, and this is gross, a young boy who was wiping poo on everything he passed! The manager made his father clean and disinfect everything the kid touched!!! 😛
I’d tell the mother, because educating the child on what’s right and wrong is her job. OK, some mothers won’t care, but I can’t do much about that. Some do, and will take the child up on what they’re doing. The best solution I’ve ever seen for a child spoiling food in the store was the manager offering the mangled remains to the mother – at full price. She refused indignantly, at which point the manager told her his other customers would feel the same, so would she please not bring her child back to the shop. I later saw the child getting his ears bent in the parking lot…
I love this, Kate!
hmm I think its about you telling another person about how they should raise their kids.
I remember when my washing machine broke down and so I had to go to the laundromat. Ugh. In Chicago In the winter. So UGH!
There was a mom with a little boy, around 6 yrs old. The place was pretty busy that night. The boy had to go to the bathroom, so she walked him over to the entry door, opened it to the night, and he stood there peeing in the doorway. No one said anything. People were then going to be walking THROUGH the pee to come in – who hadnt witnessed it.
I said, “Damn…….. take you r kid to the corner to the service station or into the alley if he has to pee. People walk there!”
She yelled at me to stop staring at her boy’s penis and called me a pervert.
I waved her off with a middle finger and said “Shut up” and then watched as people walked the pee into the laundromat til I was done with the clothes and then jumped over it to leave.
People are disgusting. Ad they raise disgusting children who become disgusting adults……..
Yes, Connie, the sins of the parents are definitely passed on to the children. It is sad really. Every once in a while a child comes along that somehow understands that what they live(d) is not how it should be and they break the cycle. And sometimes an adult outside the family says something that jars the kids grey matter and they begin to think about things…
It happened once to me as a preteen, and the humiliation for my actions started a trend. I began to understand that not everything my parents said was golden nor was it necessarily truth. And although it may have been truth for them it certainly was not respected in the world at large. My reasoning capabilities grew quite a bit after that. I thought about things more and began to draw my own conclusions about life.
I’m with you, Lynda.
I often see parents taking a packet of crisps or cookies off the shelves so that the little blighter shuts up while they get on with their shopping, and then they present the open packet at the checkout and pay for it. Fine by me. Makes for a more pleasant shopping experience for everyone, and maybe it just wasn’t a good day to teach the concept of delayed gratification 😉
BUT there is a fine line between that and stealing, and it’s not about the donut, as I’m sure we all agree, but about the principle. I remember my mum fretting over a stupid little plastic frisbee ring my brother “stole” in a store when he wasn’t yet two years old, sitting in his buggy. She got home, discovered the delinquency and thought about returning it. “Mum,” I said, “It’s a buck’s worth of a toy, you’re going to get back on the bus and schlep all the way back into town for that?! It was an accident!” She didn’t, in the end.
Simone, you’ve stated it perfectly. What I can’t understand is why the whiny kid’s parent imagines that they can just pop into the store at, or very near to, dinner time and not expect the child to go off. Their kid is just as tired and just as hungry as they are and passing through those isles with all their favorite treats has got to be next to torture! Poor things. Well, At least they paid for the items. Of course, I never had kids so maybe I’m not the best judge on shopping times and proper protocol with a hungry child in tow. It just seems logical from the outside. 🙂
exactly. Same here. It wasnt my family who told me I was OK as I was. It was the caring outsiders who saw the abuse and neglect of my person who quietly stepped in to save me.
Thank goodness for teachers and carers!
I hope I would be brave enough to approach them. I might ask if the parent knew the child got one, if the evidence had been eaten. You just never know what reaction you’re going to get these days. Our grocery store has a special case near the check-out to get a free cookie.
Patti, you are not the first one to tell me about free cookies! I know they have them for the kids at our local Publix too. Bravery had nothing to do with it. I didn’t even think about it really. In retrospect, I suppose I should have. 😯
What you described is called “free ranging” the kids. This means no discipline at all and the kids do or say whatever they want. The kids do not have to answer for any of their actions. No rules are taught and anything goes…. including calling your mother the b word to her face and using curse words as normal language. I feel so sorry for teachers and school bus drivers these days. Calling the parents does no good.
Anita, that brought back memories… once on the playground a young man called me a “B” because he thought I was “getting his friend in trouble”. As it happened I was looking intense because of what had happened to the kid and I was trying to help him. 😐
Good for you for speaking up. Unfortunately some parents do turn on people who attempt to uphold what’s right. I was in a WalMart once and some kids were running around and making noise. I spoke up and said something like: “Hey, kids, you’re not at home now. You’re in a public place and you have to tone things down.” Shortly after that the mother came up to me and said: “How dare you talk to my children that way? You have no right to say anything to my children.”
Steve, I’m glad I’m in good company! And you are right about some of those parents. They don’t choose to discipline their children and resent it when you do it for them. Maybe it’s like an indirect finger pointing at their lack of parenting skill?
I have done this for a very long time and usually the response from the child was to shape up and then keep an eye on me to see if I’m still watching them. 😉 However, I have been noticing a subtle shift in behavior, wherein the child tells the parent and then the parent sides with them (as was seemingly in this case and in yours). This happened more often than you would think when I was teaching. I always managed to hold my ground when things got really intimidating, but there were a few times when my adrenaline was ramping up and I was afraid the “conversation” would get physical. These were the parents of children who openly threatened to get their daddy to come shoot me. (In the defense of some of those parents they were actually quite civil, or at least they were to my face. )
So does this mean that we should cease and desist? Probably not. More often than not the child will remember that one person who challenged their behavior and it will make them wonder if someone else mightn’t call them on it in future. Or at least that’s what they taught us in child psychology. 😉
Since you bring up teaching, part of the problem is that administrators often side with parents and students against teachers even when the teachers are right. I taught on and off for 40 years but in all that time I can barely think of an administrator who was worth anything at all. Enough said on that subject.
I hope the claim you mentioned from child psychology is correct, but I’m skeptical.