Thursday, July 06, 2006

The First and Last

So I don't remember exactly how old I was when I first got my taste of crime and punishment. I'm going to guess close to five, although it could have been a bit younger.

My maternal grandmother used to watch my sister and I quite a bit while my mother and father worked and attended school. She was a rounded, vociferous German woman who, to put it delicately, always made her presence known. I loved my grandmother even while being slightly intimidated by her. She had very exacting standards for everything, from housecleaning to cooking to dressing. I know she loved me, but I felt like I always measured up a bit short.

She and my grandfather would take me grocery shopping with them. We would often go to a small supermarket not too far from their condominium, roaring the whole way in my grandfather's red sports car, Wagner blaring from the speakers. He always seemed to forget that he was no longer traveling on the Autobahn, and was the recipient of many a speeding ticket. No matter how many he got, it never deterred him from exceeding the speed limit, even though my grandmoher would screech in German at him while she and I white-knuckled any handle within reach.

That particular shopping trip was uneventful until we reached the checkout line. My grandparents were busy loading the conveyer with their groceries, and my attention was drawn to the array of candies within perfect reach. I know exactly why stores put them there, so that your kids will pester you for candy and because you are in a big rush you will acquiesce. Well, in this case I didn't bother to pester, I just grabbed the brightest box of candy I could find. They never noticed, and I must have known I was doing something wrong as I hid the evidence from them.

That is, until I was stupid naive enough to open the candy in the car on the way home. As we were getting out of the car, my grandmother noticed me chewing something. I will always remember the reverberating of her yell of outrage at my theivery, which sounded more ominous than normal since we were in an enclosed parking structure. "Gott in Himmel!" magnified a thousand times was enough to make me realize that there was no chance of acquittal. I was presumed guilty without a trial and sentenced right then and there.

We didn't even get the chance to unload the groceries. My gradmother insisted we turn around right this second and give that candy back. The wailing of the Wagnerian soprano only made me feel worse as my grandmother tersely explained that I personally was going to go to the manager of the store, tell him what I did, and give it back, along with the money she was going to give me.

So my sniveling self was presented to a confused manager, who upon viewing my grandmother fairly quivering with anger, took pity on me and insisted that I keep the candy. Poor man. Now it was his turn to be yelled at that under no circumstances was I to keep the fruits of my evil deed. Wisely, he then accepted the candy and the money.

I never stole anything again.

And to this day, I can't even look at a box of Chiclets.

3 comments:

Granny said...

I haven't run into it with the girls yet but it happened with one of my kids and I reacted as your grandmother did. (Without the German or the Wagner).

As far as I know, they never stole anything else.

Although my youngest was actually caught in Woolworths when he was about 11. He was with some other kids and they were trying to impress the girlfriend of one of them. She wanted makeup so they helped themselves. Mine didn't do the actual stealing and that saved him. He sure got to hear from me though.

Atasha said...

I know this was far from funny at the time it occured but I was laughing so hard when I read it. Sorry! I was never brave enough to even think about grabbing something from a shelf. The fear my father instilled in me wouldn't allow it.

My son however, at the tender age of about 16 months grabbed up a t-shirt from Penneys. I noticed this when I was out the store. I quickly ran back in, threw it on the sheet display and left. I was so ashamed even though he was too young to know what he was doing.

Paige said...

Ah yes, the horrible return of the goods. I did that to my daughter, however it didn't stop her from "borrowing" a friends car at the age of 16.
I tried