“I Almost Stole Today”

Posted by Cort Johnson

This blog from someone in the Phoenix Rising Forums illustrates some of the decisions that confront people who have the misfortune to be both unhealthy and poor. What does one do, for instance,  when one only has a few dollars left at the end of the month for some stew and an onion costs 75 cents.  Shouldn’t everyone be able to have a simple onion with their bean stew? How easy it would be just to pocket it….

I contemplated two acts today which may have been either/or unethical and illegal – I’m not sure. Well, actually, I’m sure they were illegal. In general, I find the illegal less problematic than the unethical but sometimes they are convergent.

You see, July and August are both 31 day months and it will become clear in a moment just how this plays into my near crime spree. Those of us on disability really hate 31 day months. That’s a whole extra day to keep yourself fed.

I don’t know why I didn’t take into consideration the 31 day month when I bought the $4.00 flypaper (another story) but I didn’t. And, as it turns out, the flypaper is not useful for the pests for which I bought it which are not flies.

So, here I sat with 3 rolls of unopened, useless to me, flypaper, one open and slightly unspooled roll – they are boxed as 4 – in a 31 day month! Then it hit me – I could return the flypaper with a lie about it being faulty! Yes, yes, faulty flypaper is a stretch, I know.

Anyway, common sense aside, what are the ethical implications of returning flypaper, even three usable rolls, if you’d have to lie about the reason? On the other hand, $4.00 is $4.00 and the cupboard is very nearly bare.

Happily for my Karma, I could not find the receipt! Whew! I don’t know what the karmic cost for returning flypaper under false pretenses is but, whatever it is, I don’t need it.

So, armed with what was left of my monthly stipend: $4.76, I ventured across the street to the drab ‘Value Mart’. Now, doesn’t that sound like it should be an inexpensive place to shop? It’s called “Value” and it’s not the least little bit fancy or charming or anything else that might give one pause. That’s how they getcha – you don’t know what’s happening ’til you get to the checkout.

Figuring a big pot of chili could be fashioned from the rice I had and the canned veg I could buy, I searched among the loose onions for the smallest one. This, in itself was an interesting exercise.

Many of the small onions had soft spots and an ever so slight blush of mold and were quite light so would be cheaper. I thought about whether buying a bad onion would make sense and couldn’t figure it out so I chose a nice, firm, heavy but small onion which I handed to the young man, unpacking impossibly red and enormous (and probably tasteless) strawberries from God knows where, and asked him to weigh it so that I would know it’s price. My onion would be about 75 cents. “75 cents!”, I said, “For an onion?!” He smiled. None who work there would be foolish enough to shop there.

This brings me to the point, if it can be called a point, of this seemingly endless rant. I thought about stealing that onion. It was only the realization that, knowing me, there was a very real danger that I would find myself back there later in the day “confessing” some cock-and-bull story about how I just happened to find an onion in my pocket, probably stuck to flypaper, that stopped me.

Two crimes averted today. No onion, though. Ah well, never mind, there was a lovely loaf of flax bread in the day old shelf! Score! And, when I returned home I discovered that I have three more eggs than I thought! (Egg fairy? We’ll never know.)

Stomach 1 ~ Karma 1

Check out more on the Finances and Work Forum in the Phoenix Rising Forums.

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