Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What Would Kant Say?

Until quite recently, I had never intentionally stolen anything. I never shoplifted lipstick from Walgreens as a rebellious teen, never snagged a piece of candy from a gas station counter. I knew stealing was wrong and I was too much of a goody two-shoes to ever defy that maxim.

A few years ago in NYC, I accidentally stole a Zagat Restaurant Guide from a Duane Reade -- but I'm not counting that because I wasn't aware I had walked out without paying for it until I was on the subway riding home. Now, it has been argued that I should have brought it back or returned to pay for it, but come on. I'm not THAT good of a citizen. I considered it as a token gift from New York, something to make up for the myriad of ways the city ripped me off on a daily basis for the five years that I lived there.

But curiously, in the last few months, I've been riding a small crime wave of my own creation. Don't get excited -- my petty thefts total in value to less than $10.'s an odd trend, an unusual confluence of circumstances that have led me to steal three items.

Theft #1: A bottle of water from McDonald's ($1.00)

Every few months, when I get home late and I'm hungry, I succumb to the siren song of the Golden Arches. It was a few minutes before closing at the McDonald's in Allston, and I ordered an Extra Value meal. For my beverage, I asked for a bottle of water. The woman who took my order gave me the bottle of water right away and then went to tend to the fries. I put the bottle of water into my purse so I'd have less to carry. Moments later, a different employee brought my food and...a second bottle of water. I accepted the second bottle and my food and exited.

What say you, moral public? Keep in mind this was McDonald's, not a mom-and-pop operation.

Theft #2: Iced tea from Chipotle ($1.25)

What is it with me and stealing beverages? Just days after the McDonald's incident, I found myself at Chipotle*, ordering a burrito and asking for a cup for water. They gave me a cup and I headed over to the soda fountain. I mistakenly thought this (see below)
contained water. It did not. It contained iced tea. So instead of asking for a new cup, I drank my free iced tea. An innocent mistake?

Theft #3: A breakfast sandwich from Au Bon Pain in Logan Airport ($3.89)

Ok, this is clearly the most intentional of my crimes.

I stopped in to grab breakfast at ABP before heading through security. I was slightly pressed for time; it was a few days before Christmas, the airport was crowded and my flight was scheduled to board in the next ten minutes. I ordered my sandwich and then headed over to the registers to pay. And no one was manning the registers. A number of employees were doing other things -- making breakfast sandwiches, taking orders, cleaning up the coffee station -- but no one was at the register. I swear, I waited two whole minutes for someone to show up....before making off with my sandwich.

Listen, they were practically asking for me to steal it. I didn't feel like I should have to ask to pay for it. They are supposed to make me pay for it, right? That's their job. I was running late, hungry, and I didn't plan to steal the sandwich when I ordered it. Am I morally in the clear?

Probably not. I think my crime spree is over, though. It would be really embarrassing to get caught.

*In case you're wondering, no, I don't eat at fast food establishments every day. This was just a period of time when I was especially broke and lazy.


J.A.G. said...

Last year, I gained a free four-pack of half-price, day-old muffins at Star when they tried (but failed) to ring them up at the self-checkout. Of course I also blogged about my micro-existential panic that resulted.

Also got a free second bowl of tortilla soup at Panera, but that was deliberate on their part.

Jessica said...

Over the summer, I was at a super quaint grocery store in Maine -- definitely a mom and pop operation -- and a high school-aged girl worked the register. I had a bunch of items in my basket including a canister of fancy tea which was about $12. The girl rang up my items and bagged them, and the total was lower than I'd expected: the girl had unknowingly excluded the price of the tea. I noticed right away but didn't say anything. But what if I hadn't noticed?! Am I a morally bankrupt person?

Jonathan Lehman said...

I'll be keeping my wallet in my front pocket when I see you in New York this weekend.

Suzanne said...

Last weekend, a Beacon Hill Suit dropped $23 on the sidewalk as he rushed past me. I picked up the money and pocketed it.

I'm still awaiting my karmic retribution for this.

Katie Vagnino said...

Wow, I apparently have a lot of thieving friends.