moral compass has, at times, wobbled dangerously close
to the edge of complete collapse; there have been
times during which I could not only not tell right
from wrong, but honestly didn't care. During those
times, I've dug myself into more than a few holes.
Here's one I never got out of. When I was in Junior
High, I became a kleptomaniac. Going to a private
school rife with the filthy rich had given me a real
case of the green-eyed monster. As previously described,
we were eking out a lower-middle class existance in
Tukwila, a mall-adjacent low-lying suburb of Seattle,
where nobody lived but the sad and sorry.
started fairly simply - I lost my bus pass. Every
day I had an hour-long commute by public transportation
to my school, and a similar distance back. Walking
was not an option, so when I lost my pass and was
too afraid to fess up to my mother (they cost $32
a month, and that was a lot of money), I started pilfering
from her change jar to cover my tracks. Now, this
sounds fairly innocent; what country bumpkin hain't
filched a little of Paw's moonshine money to buy himself
some chicory stick and hambone - but I didn't stop.
I couldn't. After I found out how easy it was - a
quarter here, a nickel there, I started stealing for
non-survival reasons. I developed several methods
for elaborately disguising my pilferage, including
complex rearrangements of the change in the jar, aligning
the quarters and dimes remaining in a thin stratum
along the top of the jar, with nothing but pennies
underneath, as well as unrolling quarter rolls, taking
out one or two from each, and then rerolling them.
some reason my hard-earned allowance of $1 a week
was not covering my expenditures, and the $10 my grandmother
sent me every month was going straight into savings
for Christmas presents - or that's what Mom said she
was doing with it. I had needs, man.
was I buying? Comic books. And candy.
it could have been worse. I could have been laying
in an illicit stock of porno with my ill-gotten gains,
and then charging the neighborhood kids to look at
it, which, come to think of it, wouldn't have been
such a bad idea. At least I could have paid it back
if stealing from my family wasn't bad enough, I then
proceeded to start stealing from a true American institution.
I had noticed the security at Seattle's (late, lamented)
huge downtown Woolworth's was, for lack of a better
word, lax. By now hooked on the pure speed-rush of
secret pocket, slow inconspicuous walking, and greedy,
under-the-porch reveling in stolen merchandise, I
accumulated quite a stash of GI Joe action figures,
none of which I ever showed to anybody. I was working
on the school newspaper, which, for some odd reason
charged 15 cents the copy, when I noticed the easy
heist waiting in the cash box. I skimmed off the top
forweeks, narrowly avoiding discovery, nearly wetting
my TuffSkins in excitement.
stole from other stores; books, toys, punk tapes,
the things I couldn't pay for but everybody else seemed
to have. I constructed an elaborate system of sleeve-tunnels
and hidden pockets in the lining of my coat, developed
a slinking, lurkingstyle, knowing any mistake would
result in the absolute ruin of my life. My whole personality
was changed. I made myself paranoid, always on the
verge of being found out.
I stole, filched and lifted, for years.