Criminal (Without) Intent

I have stolen things. Twice.

Both times I had no intention of doing so. I have no criminal intent. I am a rule follower. I live in great fear of being in trouble.

I am very hopeful that outing myself here isn’t going to have repercussions. Please don’t turn me in. I am fragile and wouldn’t survive the slammer.

Incident #1:

Circa late 2002. Just before Thanksgiving. It’s cold. I have a baby and a newly 3-year-old. We are shopping at Target. The baby is in his carrier in the cart. The toddler is in the front of the cart, and probably pissed off about it. She wants to waaaaalllllkkkkkk….

As we wander around the store I decide it is time for me, as a grown up person with multiple children, to own a carving knife. I guess we were eating at my house? Or maybe I was just inspired by the upcoming feast? Either way, I pick out a nice big carving knife (encased in a small plastic cover) and place it in the bottom of the cart. Around the corner from the baby. Safety first.

On top of that, and all around the baby carrier, I pile all kinds of Target-y goodness. Probably diapers, cute little kid clothes, random home items.

The car is as full as it can be with a baby taking up the majority of the available space and the kids are getting a little stress-y and it’s time to check out. So we go to the checkout and unload everything onto the belt.

I pay.

We make our way out across the parking lot, it was a busy shopping day so we were far far away. I’m calculating how I am going to get the kids into their car seats, the stuff into the car, and the cart back to it’s little corral before everyone loses it.

I wrestle the baby carrier out of the cart and into it’s little clippy thing in the car. I wrestle the 3-year-old into her seat. She fights back, there’s crying. Now I am sweating despite the cold and only partway done with the unloading process.

As I load the bags into the back of the car (van, actually) and prepare to take the cart back I see, in the very bottom, in the very back, the shiny new carving knife. Not in a bag. Not paid for.

Panic. OMG. I. Stole. That.

I quickly scan the receipt, hoping that maybe I did pay for it and it just fell out of the bag. But no, it isn’t on there.

I debate just leaving it in the cart. But that feels irresponsible. A big sharp knife laying around where anyone could stumble upon it. Safety first (again.)

I consider packing everyone back into the cart and heading inside to confess my crime and pay. But…have you ever unbuckled a toddler who just lost it because you buckled her in the first place? And it was cold. And I was already in a sweaty panic.

So I put the knife in a bag. In the car.

And I returned the cart. And we left.

Officially a criminal.

I still have that knife (it’s pretty nice even 15 years later) and every time I use it I feel guilty. And the kids give me a hard time about my illegal weapon.

Incident #2: 

Many years later. I think 2015. A week before Halloween.

We are in the Halloween Store looking for costumes for teenagers. Grumpy teenagers who don’t like any of the costume options.

But maybe we should look at every single one again.

And again.

And one more loop.

And oh, look at this scary witch thing. And this baby that screams.

And another loop.

Finally the boy decides he is going to be The Phantom of the Opera. He saw it for school so he’s into that idea.

We find a black cape, which I tuck under my arm. He has a top hat at home. We scope out the white half mask. No luck.

The girl decides she’s going to be Bill Nye the Science Guy. We can’t find any Science Guy stuff. We are looking for lab coats and bow ties.

A very hassled looking Halloween Store employee approaches and tells us the store is closing and we need to GET OUT. All of those loops around took up all of the available shopping time.

We try in vain to quickly locate science garb.

We are shooed to the door as the loudspeaker announces that the store is closed.


We leave and head out to the car, discussing what we might be able to find on Amazon and when the next chance will be to head out to look for the missing parts.

The girl calls shotgun, the boy groans. As we get into the car and organized, I put my bag on the floor in the bag seat and then take the cape…OMG THE CAPE!!

The boy says “Did you STEAL THAT?”

Um…no…I mean…I didn’t mean to.

Oh crap. I did steal that.

We look back at the locked doors and I debate going back and trying to get someone to open the doors and let me in so I can pay.

But it feels like a LOT of effort and they did chase us out. I don’t think they would be friendly about me coming back. I anticipate eye rolling.

I hate eye rolling.

So we left. With our ill-gotten gains.

Ultimately we find science guy stuff and the half mask. The boy wears the cape. He calls it his stolen cape at every possible opportunity. There are a surprising number of opportunities.

I get all flustered every time I am called out on my criminal activities.

So there you go. Multiple offender. Two strikes. No intent.

About Kristen

Me: Kristen, more than 40-something (don't make me face the number), suburban mom of 2, working girl, therapeutic writer, proprietor of an emptying nest Addictions: Iced Coffee, FOMO resulting in twitchy compulsion to check FB/Instagram/Pinterest in an unending loop, texting, hugging my one child while Snapchatting the other and yelling at my dog

2 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    Too funny! Sounds like you are human, flawed but funny.

    I intentionally stole a one cent piece of Bazooka Bubble Gum at age 4 or 5 from a deli. I think the store owner saw me (dad was there too.) We would go there every Sunday after church for Baloney and the Sunday paper. I think this store owner knew my dad’s temper and never said a word which confused me also.

    At 13 or 14 I remember seeing what I thought was a way over priced leather key chain in Canada and decided I wanted it. I had never shop lifted since the Bubble Gum. About 2 years later I gave it to someone as a gift. I felt too guilty to ever use it.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! I could just see you unloading the packages whilst multitasking the kids into the car *groan* how I remember those days when 2 hands seemed like a gross injustice :-)

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