Tuesday, May 05, 2009

I don't care how small it is, you're an ass if you steal it.

Yesterday, my nephew (newly arrived here from the UK to work for a year) and I hit the local grocery giant to stock up lunches. Whilst there, we happened on my niece.

Forgive me while I deviate for a second to some background: my nephew from the UK and my niece from here are not related at all. When my nephew came over at the winter holiday, he and she took quite a shine to each other. He was back for almost six weeks in late January and all of February and they spent nearly every day together.

That was all fine. What was NOT fine was that she eats constantly. She's super fit and she runs 10 - 15K a day, so she has an appetite. She spent nearly 30 days at my house and ate constantly. She not once offered to purchase her own goodies or replace anything she took. Yes, we asked, and yes, my nephew, who was essentially on vacation but also looking for work, footed her bill.

What is also NOT fine is that she takes whatever she wants, when she wants it from whomever has it and she never replaces anything she takes nor does she even offer replace and she doesn't ante up even when asked several times.

This came to a huge head when we went on a week-long trip including a seven-hour drive there and back (gas): she offered $20 for the entire week for food, gas and lodgings. So yeah, she is spoiled as all hell. And for the record, no she does not have bulimia. She trains hard and is legitimately hungry and needs to eat. But she has the means to pay her own way....

So spoiled is she that she gave my lovely nephew much reason to believe that she was quite in love with him and that she'd would not only wait for him but that they'd be a couple when he came back - only 8 weeks passed; he had to go back to the UK to get his work permits in order.

Six weeks later, she was already dating another guy - a wealthy guy with a house and a fancy car and money... she does not like to pay her way and sees no reason to do so, nor does she like to be without a boyfriend so this guy fills both bills. She also has a really bad habit of looking down on people who don't have THINGS.

So speed forward to yesterday in the shop, when we come upon said niece quite unexpectedly. My nephew has been trying to reach her since he arrived last weekend but she has not troubled herself to reply to phone calls, texts or an email.... suffice to say she was quite off-kilter running into us out of the blue like that... Karma...

After saying hello, I moved off to grab the rest of our shopping and to give them talking room. Five minutes later, I turn the corner into the cereal aisle to find my niece eating the food out of my cart.... the food I had not yet even paid for.

I know many - too many - people don't consider consuming a few un-paid-for grapes here, a banana there or a handful of nuts to be theft, but consider this: in a busy store like the one we were shopping at yesterday, it's reasonable to assume that of the 3000 or so bodies that come there every day, a good portion don't believe themselves to be thieving when they're munching away on un-purchased items.

So those 5 or 10 grapes per person becomes 40lbs a day; and that one banana becomes 40 bananas; and that handful of nuts becomes 12lbs of nuts. Figure that over 10 stores in the city and now you're talking quite a bit of merchandise being stolen.

Stores have a accounting item called shrinkage. Department stores figure 17 - 20% for shrinkage and I believe grocery stores figure something higher than that. It is remarkable too that most of this theft is occurring at the hands of ADULTS.

Guess who's paying for that shrinkage! ME. Me and every one else who knows theft is theft, even if it's only 5 grapes.

What really pisses me off about all this is the reality that my niece - who is my sibling's daughter and who is, by extension, my flesh and blood, has no honour. It seems she has that little self respect -and respect for others - that she would steal from me and from the store I was purchasing groceries at.

Suffice to say I have lost respect but worse, I am appalled to know that my sibling's child feels she is above the law and more special than the 'rabble.' It's sad and I makes me question my sibling too....

My niece comes from a well enough off family. She has never wanted and she will never want. She doesn't usually pay for her clothing or her food or her education but she works - four months at a time if she must - so she must occasionally have money of her own - and she certainly has access to other people's money. Why she would steal is beyond me.

I took the opportunity to email my niece about the incident (and also make my opinion on subject of theft known to my own children).I'm sure she'll take huge offence at being caught and called out and I'm pretty sure I'm going to hear from my sibling - and yes, I will ask said sibling why it's ok to steal small things....

As it relates to you dear reader, the problem isn't the item stolen, necessarily; it is the respect one has for one's self. Theft is theft is theft, no matter how large or small the item stolen is. If a person takes what is not rightfully theirs, the acquisition comes at the absolute sacrifice of one's personal honour.

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