Monday, October 15, 2007

A Moral Dilemma

Allow me to set the scene:

Me: Hot, sweaty and gross. I had just finished doing a 5.5 mile run with Sis. I was on my way home to the Trenches, where we were expecting guests in 30 short minutes to watch the football game and have dinner.

I needed to stop at the liquor store for some (more) wine (Hubby had already grilled me earlier: "We're out already? How much DO you drink exactly?") Whatever buddy.

And we needed salt.

Salt? Isn't that one of those essential items that you ALWAYS have on hand? Who the hell runs out of salt?

Yeah, we were out.

I grabbed the salt at the grocery store (opting to go for the name brand Mortons iodized salt instead of store brand because it had the breast cancer ribbon on the package. And it was still only $.79. Because you totally needed to know that, right?)

Headed to the self-checkout line with my lone item and my dollar bill, impatient to get home to shower before our guests arrived. (Plus I still had to throw together a salad and make a nacho dip.)

(And open the wine.)

Ahead of me, there was a woman already at the self-checkout register.

Her: Wearing jeans with studded decorations on the back pockets. Gray hooded sweatshirt. Long, straight dark hair hanging in her face. Wearing glasses. About mid-40's.

I was watching her intently because I was in a hurry I'm nosy.

And I watched her move a clear container of what appeared to be fresh scallops packaged by the fish department from the green basket on her left hand side...

Directly to the plastic bag on her right hand side.

Without being scanned.

I wasn't sure what to do.

Should I call her on it? Tap her on the shoulder and say, "Excuse me, but were you planning on paying for that?"

Except that is so NOT me. I'm not confrontational by any means. And what if I was mistaken? (Except that I know I wasn't.)

Should I summon a supervisor?

Should I catch an employee's or supervisor's eye and make a hand motion for them to check her receipt?

I wasn't sure what to do.

Who was this woman? What was her story? Why was she choosing to steal?

She wasn't stealing baby food. Or bread. Or milk or eggs. She was stealing fresh scallops.

But who am I to judge this woman?

I wasn't sure what to do.

Was it my responsibility to confront her?

Did I have a moral obligation to call her out?

(All of these thoughts, coursing through my head, in literally a span of 3 minutes, tops.)

I wasn't sure what to do.

So I did nothing.
What would you have done if you were in my situation?


Two Shews said...

Skipped the run and gone straight for the wine.

Deb said...

LOL at two shews.

I'm a big, fat snitch. I have tattled on many shoplifters in my day.

Anonymous said...

I would have done the same thing. Quietly freak out in my head until it's too late to really do anything anyway. She sounds like a professional.

Anonymous said...

Probably the same. You were in a hurry to get home, and no matter what you did -- call her on it, report it -- it would have eaten up precious minutes of your time.

However, absent the time imperative, I probably would have called her on it. Theft is morally wrong, and to be totally pragmatic, it raises prices for all of us.

And scallops? Stealing expensive food. That is just really wrong.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's a toughy. Unfortunately, I probably would've done the same as you. My rational is it's not my job to police their check-out lines. Do stores really think everyone is honest to not expect this sort of thing? They really should have at least a bagger assigned to those machines.


Anonymous said...

Oooooh, what a thief! I probably would have done the same as you... I would have been too shocked. I just can't fathom stealing.

Jane, Pinks & Blues

Carla said...

I know what I would have liked to have done. Summon a supervisor. Would I have?? I would have liked to have said loudly, "HEY, YOU NEED TO SCAN THOSE!!" Would I have?? Maybe.

3XMom said...

man. Sadly I probably would have done the same as you.

Anonymous said...

That is a strange thing to shop-lift.

When my mother was young and studying at art college her best friend, a boy who being a rebellious young artist liked to regularly steal these pot plants from the supermarkets called "Honesty".

Jennifer said...

I would've done the same thing, Sarah. Karma will get her.

Anonymous said...

You should have slide tackled the beotch.

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

Dude, someone stealing from the local market? Say it ain't so.

I would have done the same thing, because I'm meek. And also because there was wine at home.

Chaotic Joy said...

Oh I totally would have done the same thing. Nothing and then thought all night long about whether I should have done something.

Unknown said...

Sitting here in my chair, I SAY that I would motion to a worker but in reality I would have done the exact thing you did.

Our County Attorneys wife got caught shoplifting at the Dollar General in town. Could you imagine having to prosecute your own wife for something like that? How embarassing.

Patois42 said...

I've always told on the shoplifters I've encountered. But, I tell you, my black/white vision would have blurred if it had been diapers or baby food.

Judy said...

I'm pretty much a hard-a$$...I would have turned her in, if for no better reason than to have a MAJOR excuse for looking/smelling like I would at the party.

Kate said...

I'd've done nuthin'. I don't have the energy to be the world's policeman. Let karma do its thing... not my problem.

Natalie said...

Hmmm, okay, so there isn't a weighing thingee when you bag? Or was she choosing the "skip bagging" option? I don't think I would have done anything either, except stand there with my mouth wide open, wide enough that she couldn't help but notice. Then I would have made myself feel better for not snitching by telling myself that she'll think twice next time (hardy har har) because now she knows people are watching. And who knows, maybe she paid for them when they were packed for her? Like the bakeries do. Yup, that's my rationale

hqm said...

Totally, would have doen the same thing as you. Then spend the next three days think of what I should have done, like say, "Those scallops looked delicious, how are you going to prepare them?"

Gray Matter Matters said...

Ok, let me set the scene for YOU. Two weeks ago, Annie Sez, older lady in front of me doing a series of random returns on items bought at different times, some without her receipt, etc. Then, I notice through her white pants a tag still attached.
I discreetly told a sales associate, "just thought you might want to know..." and got the hell out.
The moral to the story...don't hold me up in the check out line be-atch.

jayna said...

Well obviously she was confused. Those self-checkouts are tricky things. She may have just needed a little friendly, yet loud, explaination.

"Oh, ma'am, you have to run the expensive package of scallops over the scanner. They won't ring up through that plastic bag you've put them in."

I'm a tattler though. I've followed teens through Target until I found a supervisor to bust them.

Sarah said...

Hmmm....Sounds like she might have been a little scary I had kids I would have used my best outside voice to tell her that she forgot to scan her scallops. Kids have made me a big scaredy cat. I worry about getting jumped in the parking lot and such...I'd have done the same, nothing.

Sarah said...

I would have done nothing and then kicked myself for having done nothing.

Because I like to punish myself that way.

Unknown said...

I'm a total wuss. I wouldn't have said anything. I probably would have just came home and blogged about it. You did the right thing ;-)

Shauna Loves Chocolate said...

The fact that they were fresh scallops (you know, expensive!)... I would have said something to a manager. If it had been something else (like you said, baby food or milk), I wouldn't have said anything because I wouldn't want to deny her children of food.

But scallops? Don't make me pay more than I'm already paying because you want to steal the most expensive food in your cart.

Mom of 5 said...

I would have struck up a conversation about how much I enjoy scallops and asked her how she prepares hers.

Elaine said...

unfortunately, morals aside, this type of thing DOES affect us all. when people shoplift repeatedly, prices at our local stores have to go up. no fair. i would have told, i hope. i yelled at my husband forever the other day because he bagged three roma tomatoes with one big slicing one and just keyed in four romas at the self-check. come on!

don't beat yourself up, though!

Candace said...

maybe you could have said really loudly, "OH I LOVE THAT BRAND OF SCALLOPS, AREN'T THEY JUST THE BOMB?" kind of indirectly calling her out?
I would have done nothing too. and I love that you thought about what her sitch might be. Scallops are some pricy loot! You got a Winona Ryder in the hood...

Angela said...

I am blind so can’t tell on that stuff. I would have probably if I knew gone and told a supervisor quietly.
My husband works for a grocery store and everywhere he goes he looks for shoplifters. He has gotten really good at catching them and turning them in.

Unknown said...

Wow, that is a tough one. As much as I would have loved to call her out, I probably would have just talked smack behind her back and told all of my friends about the situation afterwards. And after thinking about it for a few minutes, I think that I would rather just hope the woman made a simple mistake and didn't mean to steal them (even if she did!).

Kate said...

If it was me...and I was already irritated at having to get salt, which would be holding me up from (a) WINE and (b) football and (c) food (3 of my favorite things), I probably would have said, rather snottily, "If you are going to steal the f*cking scallops and various other groceries, can you do it a little faster, I'm in a rush here" Yes, in a tone loud enough for others to hear. But, I'm a bitch that way.

Alex Elliot said...

I would have done the same thing as you and then I would have dwelled on it afterwards.

painted maypole said...

that is tough. I think the right thing to do would be to confront her, and allow her to right the wrong, and then if she doesn't alert the staff. but it would be a hard thing to do. I think, though, as a society we need to stand up when we see a wrong committed. would I have done it myself? I should hope so, but I don't know.

k e r r y said...

I probably would have had the same reaction that you did - wanting to say something but not wanting to butt in. I might have stared her down though -- made her feel a little uncomfortable.


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