Guest Writers

True Crime: A #SoWrong Story From Pegoleg


Peg Schulte from Pegoleg’s Ramblings is truly one of the most dynomite writers I follow. When I asked her to write about one of her most embarrassing moments, I was thinking “Recommended Humor Blog = Some Pretty Funny Shiz.” But I am pleased as punch that Peg decided to show another side of herself here today: a memoir about a time when she was profoundly ashamed of herself. Because haven’t we all been there? Peggy is not on Twitter, y’all. But she has an enormous following at her blog. And you would be crackerjacks not to take a peek at the magic she has going on over there — after you read this piece.


I was the smart, fat, teacher’s pet in junior high. I was desperate to be part of the in-crowd. Desperate. I would have traded my soul to the devil to be popular. He never showed up with a contract, however, so I had to make it happen myself. I’m not telling you this to excuse what I did; I just want you to know where I was coming from.

Things started to change when I made the cheer-leading squad in 8th grade. I got to sit at the “cool” girls table in science class, I was invited to “cool” parties, and I tried new, “cool” hobbies. Things like smoking, drinking and shoplifting.

I became a thief to fit in.

My career only lasted for a couple of outings. I wasn’t very good at it. Heart pounding, sick to my stomach, I’m sure my guilt was writ plainly on my face for all to see. You can probably see where all this is heading, although it was a nasty surprise to me. I got caught.

We were at Kresge’s, a store of the variety they used to call a “Five & Dime.” My girlfriend had just stuffed a barrette (retail value 69 cents) into my purse. We were strolling the aisles, trying to look casual, when I felt a hand on my shoulder. The big, burly store manager invited us to “come up to the office.”

He said they had a zero-tolerance policy for shoplifting. They called the police. Two officers came, searched our bags, told us we were under arrest and that someone from the court would be in touch. My friend presented a stoic front throughout the ordeal, but I was a blubbering mess.

They called our parents to come get us, and this is where things went from bad to worse.

My parents were out of town for the weekend. The lady who was babysitting us didn’t drive. My friend’s mom volunteered to take me home, but they wouldn’t release me to her. The police said they would take me.

Let me set the scene for you. This was just before the Dawn of the Age of Malls. Downtowns were still packed with stores and, on any given Saturday morning, that’s where you’d find ¾ of the town’s population; 100% of the teenagers.

They walked me through the crowded store with one policeman in front and the other behind me. Their cruiser was double parked in front of the store, on the busiest corner in town, right at the intersection of Everybody Saw and Everybody Knew. I think one of my brothers or sisters may have even witnessed my Bataan shame march, but I didn’t see them. I looked neither right nor left.

It was bad enough to have a police car drop me off right in front of my house. Did you know that you can’t open the back door of those cars from the inside? I kept trying the handle and babbling that the door didn’t work.

It was bad enough listening to the policeman explain the situation to the nice lady who was watching us for the weekend. Her expression combined shock that I would do such a thing with worry that my parents would blame her.

It was bad enough trying to deflect the probing questions of a “concerned” neighbor when I went to their house to baby-sit that evening. Much as I wanted to cancel, I didn’t think I should compound my sins by leaving them in the lurch on a Saturday night. They said they had seen me coming home in a squad car and “hoped everything was OK”.

All these things were bad enough, but nothing compared to the ordeal of telling my parents when they got home the next day. The look of disappointment in their eyes was the worst punishment of all, and not something I’ll ever forget.

My parents had drilled the difference between right and wrong into us kids our whole lives. Dad was a dentist and both were active in service to our church and the community. They told us that people knew who we were, even if we didn’t know them. Everything we did reflected back on the good name of the family.

They sat me down with the 5 oldest of my siblings and revealed my crime. I guess they figured maybe a little good could come of this if the other kids learned from my mistake. The younger kids looked at me with eyes so wide it was as if I had just taken off a sister Peg mask to reveal I was really Al Capone. That was the cherry on top of my shame sundae.

All that summer, I had to walk down to the courthouse to meet with my parole officer. Yes, I had a parole officer, just like murderers and rapists had.

She seemed like a sweet old lady, until I realized that her probing questions were designed to find out what kind of terrible home-life I must have that I would turn to a life of crime. After one meeting, she insisted on driving me home. I knew she wanted to look around for herself. I squirmed with mortification for my Mom even more than for myself.

I finally had my day in court. It also happened to be my first day of high school.

I missed most of the first day of this new stage of life at a brand, new school because I was down at the courthouse in shackles and an orange jumpsuit.

OK, it wasn’t an orange jumpsuit. I was wearing my new-for-school outfit; itchy, wool tweed pants and a too-tight, wool sweater vest. On top of everything else, the wool made me break out in hives.

The judge gave me a stern lecture and pronounced sentence: one year’s probation with continued visits to the parole officer. If I didn’t get into any more trouble my juvenile record would be erased when I became an adult.

I tried to look blasé, but I couldn’t help it – I cried the whole time. I have always cried easily, but not prettily. My eyes swell up and my whole face becomes a red, blotchy mess that doesn’t fade for hours.

I was a wreck after court and pleaded with my Mom to let me go home, but she was adamant. I had to go to school. I guess she figured the more painful this experience was, the less likely I would be to repeat it. Like most of life’s lessons, this made a lot more sense in hindsight. At the time, it just seemed cruel.

Mom dropped me off at the front door of school just after lunchtime. I’ll never forget walking into the unfamiliar building, not sure what subject I had at that hour, or where the classroom was. I was painfully aware of my swollen eyes and red face, and sure that everyone could see the scarlet “T” for Thief that was emblazoned on the breast of my sweater vest, at least in my mind.

I never stole again. In fact, I became scrupulous about such things. I’m the person who tells the clerk when she hasn’t charged enough. The person who, if I found a bag of unmarked, no-way-to-trace-it cash in a dumpster, would take it to the police.

What did I learn from this experience? I took away two, invaluable lessons.

  1. My honesty and integrity are worth much more than any material goods could ever be.
  2. I should never wear wool next to my skin.

Have you ever stolen something? What did you take? What have you done to fit in with the “cool” kids?

tweet me at @rasjacobson

114 thoughts on “True Crime: A #SoWrong Story From Pegoleg

      1. Hey. I was a cheerleader, and I never stole anything. I just made out with a lot of boys. Oh wait. You may have just proved your point. Touché.

        Peg, I’m soooo glad you are here today, continuing the awesome lineup of writers who have shared their humiliating moments. You are a talented writer, and I hope everyone who leaves comments here today heads over to your place and subscribes. You are faboosh.

  1. Wow. The pain of shame – and wool allergies. Not a pretty combination. I stole a Bonnie Bell lip gloss when I was 9 years old. I was with a friend who I watched slip one into her pocket, and I wanted one, too. I thought, if she was doing it, so should I, and the thought was compounded by both it being a period in my life when I wanted, more than anything else, to fit in, and the fact that it was the popular bubble gum flavor. I can still remember how my whole body tightened with the fear of being caught and the thrill of getting away with it; the fear of my father finding out, and the thrill of having a wicked popular lip gloss to use. My 9-year-old logic didn’t kick in until I got home and realized that my parents would wonder where I got the lip gloss from if I used it. I hid it for a while, and then threw it away.

    1. Ah, the Bonne Bell lip-gloss. It was the quintessential accessory when I was a preteen. How funny that you would assume that your parents would notice such a little thing. And how true that they would have!

  2. Oh what a great story and lesson, Peg!

    I think most kids steal at some point. I took a large troll doll — It was about 12 inches high and, you know, shaped like a large troll. How I got away with it under my shirt, looking like an 8 year -old pregnant person, I’ll never know. I never got caught. Somehow I reformed on my own!

  3. I was the youngest of four girls, and all of my older sisters always got into trouble. Two of them stole things, not sure what they were, but my parents were so strict that I got in trouble and punished too for their crimes JUST SO I WOULD NOT DO IT. Their theory was strange, but I never stole anything, ever.

  4. My shoplifting experience happened when I had no excuse for it, other than a desire to own a matching purse and wallet, and a bank account that wouldn’t accommodate both. I think I was in my early twenties; married at the time to a man who gave me an allowance and controlled all expenditures. That does not excuse my action. I stood at the display counter, imagined having both the purse and the wallet, placed the wallet in the purse for a test on how cool it looked. One nefarious thought led to another. I closed the purse. Tested it on my shoulder. Looked in the mirror. Then, headed to checkout with the purse and wallet. If they caught me, I reasoned, I could simply say I forgot I’d put the wallet in there. They didn’t look. The guilt took all pleasure from carrying the matching set.

    1. Tested again, but took a different route story.

      While slobbering over a Coach purse and wallet at a local department store, I told the clerk I could ill afford one, let alone both. She offered to “sell” me the wallet at a discounted price for cash. Now, I knew she was stealing from the store, and should have reported her, but she was late-stage pregnant and had not wedding band.

      I went to the ATM machine and withdrew cash. When I returned to the counter, I asked to speak with her on her next break. Outside the store, I offered her the cash as a gift for her baby, and asked that she please stop stealing from her employer.

      I purchased only the purse. I have no clue whether or not she took my advice. For a while, I questioned whether or not I should have simply reported her. I’m content with my choice. If she chose to ignore the advice, she was likely caught on someone else’s watch.

      1. Wow, what great stories! I love that you tried to help that young woman look at what she was doing with new eyes. I suppose you COULD have reported her, but I give you credit for doing what you did. If nothing else, you probably made her stop and think.

  5. Oh Peggles! Holy crap. I don’t think the punishment quite fit the crime here, although I am vehemently against any level of shoplifting. One time, at this same age (8th grade), I almost stole a cheap necklace from a little local jewelry shop. I had it in my pocket and a clear getaway, but I just couldn’t do it. Had I been with The Cool Girls, though (instead of alone), I think I’d be telling a different story.

    This was so well written, too (no surprise)! I loved “the intersection of Everybody Saw and Everybody Knew.”

    1. Thank goodness you didn’t do it, Jules! Or you’d be blogging from Sing Sing about being some woman’s bitch.

      When I look back, I can’t believe I did that. I was worried and eagle eyed with my own kids because I know how strong peer pressure can be. Thank goodness they were both much stronger and self-confident than I.

  6. I was right there with you, Peg, itchy wool and red eyes and all. I suppose it only takes one time of feeling shame to set a kid straight.

    For me, it was my dad. He was the master at handing out “disapproving looks”. I was around 11 years old and at the local five and dime (yes, we had one then!) and was chatting with my friends while collecting my papers for my paper route. I casually decided to steal two Tootsie Rolls and popped them in my mouth without a second thought. But I could already feel my dad glaring at me above his glasses if he knew what I had done. I actually ran home and told him I stole that candy after he got home from work. My dad grew up very poor and was all about respect and being honest–and would have none of that. He made me march right back down to the store and give the lady behind the counter two pennies for my candy. I never forgot the shame I felt and I never stole another thing as long as I lived.

    1. That’s a great dad, Darla. I don’t think we want our kids to fear us, but I firmly believe we do them no service when we let little things slide because we don’t want to be the bad guy. Being the bad guy sometimes, with love all the time, is part of the parental job description.

    2. Hey Dar-Dar. No pressure, but you are on deck, methinks. Can’t wait to see what you have to deliver to this collection of stories. You’re such a good girl, I can’t imagine you did anything naughty. You probably peed in someone’s plaid LL Bean pants of something. 😉

    1. Why, what a nice compliment – both of them. My parents were strict, but as long as there is a lot of love that goes along with it, I think children benefit from that kind of environment. If we expect a lot from our kids, they generally try to live up to that expectation. (thank you, Dr. Peg-o-Spock)

  7. The feeling of guilt! I have many times tasted a grape in the grocery store. Shame on me!. I always say, “I must make sure they taste good.” Shame on me.

    1. That’s kind of funny, but it is a tiny bit of a moral dilemma. Continuing the same logic, why not taste the apples? That’s the fruit that always lets me down. They look all shiny, red and Snow White-worthy on the outside but when you get them home…mushy.

  8. Oh Peg, you poor girl! They should have taken one look at those wool pants and let you walk.

    I once stole microwave. It was on the bottom of my target cart and I just walked right out of the store with it after paying for everything else. I didn’t realize it until later and when I went back with my receipt, the person in charge told me not to worry about it. “It would be a pain to charge you for it now.”

    I’ve been known to place a mug or two from coffee shops and diners in my purse. But only if the service is bad. Then when I get in the car I say, “Look what I won!” I should be ashamed of myself. Maybe I’ll learn from your mistakes.

    1. Exactly, Rache. Itchy, wool pants are punishment enough.

      I can’t believe they let you keep that microwave – that’s like a major appliance! Wonder if Mr. Target would have agreed with that decision?

      Please…consider me the honesty oracle and learn from my mistakes. You don’t want to end up in the Big House over a lousy coffee mug, do you?

  9. I stole Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” on CASSETTE from Wal-Mart. OMG … I’m not sure what’s more embarrassing, admitting that I stole something or admitting what I actually stole. (head hung low)

  10. Oh, Peg, that’s such a hard age to deal with all of that. I’m glad you have the benefit of hindsight now and can appreciate it for instilling a value for honesty and integrity though. But what a way to learn it!
    The first and only time I shoplifted when when I was 5 in a toy store. The little horse figuring couldn’t have been worth 25 cents but I really wanted it. My mom found it in my pocket later that day and brought me back to the store to return. The store manager took me back to his office just to talk about why it’s wrong to steal and I vividly remember crying big silent tears of remorse. Traumatic but it certainly worked!

    1. That seems to be a classic, common and very effective solution for little kids. Would that every parent took the time to make sure their kids learned that painful lesson.

  11. LOL at the ‘don’t wear wool against your skin’ line! Great post, Peg and Renee.

    I never shoplifted but only because I was too chicken. But I did plenty of other embarrassing things to fit in at that age (not telling either). I believe that middle school (jr high it was called in my day) is the purgatory of the earth plain.

    1. “middle school (jr high it was called in my day) is the purgatory of the earth plain.” true dat. Now I want to hear all about what you DID do.

      1. My memory is surprisingly foggy on the details. LOL

        There was the time, however, when I told my parents I was going trick-or-treating for Unicef (I even got my hands on one of their boxes) so I could go out with my friends on Halloween and play tricks (which I didn’t like doing, but again trying to fit in). I felt so guilty afterwards I gave all my savings (probably about ten bucks) to Unicef. My parents never found out. Thank God! My mother would have grounded me until I was thirty.

          1. LOL Did you hold a seance. She’s been dead for over a decade, but I wouldn’t put it past her to call you up and tell you that, even from the great beyond!! 🙂

    2. Kassandra: No fair popping in and then saying you aren’t going to tell what you did. Whaaaat? Who does that. Everyone is ‘fessing up in these parts. Did you fool around with a boy? Get high on glue and sleep with your Physics teacher? Forget to wear panties under your cheerleading uniform? Can it really be THAT bad? 😉

      Just kidding.

      You know you don’t have to tell.

      But I’m sure Peg would love it if you gave her a wee hint.

      1. Just saw your reply after I submitted mine! Wish I’d seen it first, I would have made up a lot better story! High on glue and sex with the physics teacher sounds like a lot more naughty fun than lying about collecting for a charity.

        And who didn’t fool around with boys back then? 😀

  12. Wow, Peg– this story was totally unexpected and ALSO dragged up some unexpected and deeply buried shame from my own past. 🙁 I tried shoplifting when I was 13 to fit in with the cool kids, too. They never got caught but I TOTALLY DID… on my first try at that. Figures. I tried to lift some eyeshadow from a drugstore in a mall. I made it out the front door, only to be approached by Mall Security a few paces later. My heart sank when he said “Can I speak with you for a moment?” I knew. I just knew.

    It was horrible and humiliating. Genius me, I had attempted my Grand Theft on December 21st. Everyone was in a festive spirit and getting ready for Christmas. My mom worked at the Gap in the mall where I had tried to steal, and mall security took my student ID card into the Gap, asking all the clerks “Is this your daughter? Is this your daughter?” My poor ma thought that I had been killed in a car crash or abducted by a pedophile. It still breaks my heart to remember how confused and disappointed she looked when she burst into the back room of mall security and figured out that her honor student daughter had tried to steal some makeup. Ugh. The disappointment SLAYS ME.

    I was a total mess in the back room and in the car ride home from the mall. My mom had to miss the rest of her shift at the Gap and tried to find a way to explain what had happened to her boss without *actually* explaining what had happened to her boss. I guess she was worried that people at work would start suspecting *her* of stealing things. Shoplifting at the Gap has always been a huge problem, and who knows? Maybe the mother had taught the daughter a thing or two about stealing…

    I cried myself to sleep at home and was woken up a few hours later to explain to my dad what I had done. THAT was horrible. More disappointment. More shame. More knowing that I should have done better. The next day, my mom made me go back to the drugstore and offer to do community service for them, hoping that they would decide not to press charges against me. I had to clean out their staff refrigerator as punishment, which doesn’t sound so bad but was actually REALLY BAD. (Having charges pressed against me would have been better. I am being 100% serious.) The whole staff was given permission to treat me like a common slave while I was there. People asked me to do things that they should NEVER have asked ANYBODY to do and then taunted me while I did them. (Not illegal or morally objectionable things, but little tasks that any grown human should be able to do for themselves.) The only upside to the whole story was that I never stole anything again. Like you, Peg, stealing and getting caught made me hyper-vigilant about things like that.

    Whew! Sorry for the long comment. I’ve actually never told this story before (except to my uber-disappointed parents and younger sisters), and I guess it needed to come out.

    1. Oh Dana, my eyes are filled with tears reading this. You really KNOW what I mean. I have never told this story either. It has been 40 years – FORTY! and I’m still hesitant to tell this. I still feel the old sense of shame and guilt.

      But we sure learned our lesson, didn’t we?

      1. Whew. Okay, Dana, suddenly, I am feeling weepy. That is a positively awful story. I am so sorry for all that shame, but that happened a long time ago and look how much you have grown. Be gentle with yourself. We were all once young and foolish. If you don’t believe me, look back at some of the other stories in this series! Just click on the eyeball!

        1. Thanks, Renee! I hadn’t even realized how deeply I had shoved that experience into my subconscious, but honestly– just getting it out (on the internet!) has been a huge relief. Phew! The experience sure made an honest woman out of me. 🙂

      2. It’s amazing (and sad) how deeply we can bury feelings of shame and guilt. I’m really thankful to have read your story and had the opportunity to tell mine as well. Let the decades-old guilt BE GONE!

        1. I’m so glad you feel some relief in sharing your story here. Strange as it is, sometimes I feel these blogs are kind of sacred. People are so supportive, and they allow for understanding and a side order of humor. It’s so nice to meet you. Truly. Please know you are not alone. Ever. Even when you feel you are, others have been there, too.

  13. Oh Peg. I vaguely remember you were in trouble and the cop car but I didn’t remember the court and your being on parole stuff.
    Well written, made me weepy, I felt your pain. Been there, done that. Especially the disappointment of the parents.
    Still, you turned out fabulously!!! And, look how talented you are! As Ms Darlinkadoodle said, we all have our proverbial skeletons in the closet.
    Love you Sis,

    1. Isn’t it funny that something so pivotal in my life is just backdrop for somebody so close to me?

      And I am SO using “Darlinkadoodle” -fab.

  14. When I was 9 my mom drove a route for L’eggs (you know, the pantyhose that were packaged in big, plastic eggs). When school was out for such things as teacher planning days, my mom had me ride along with her while she restocked stores and re-worked displays. On one particular day I was hungry and wandering around the store when I thought, “hey, I’d like a piece of candy.” So, I took one. I tucked it into my pocket and went outside to help my mom load up the truck with empty boxes. Suddenly a man walked out of the store and came up to us and asked, “Did you have something you forgot to pay for?” Of course I answered, “Uh, no?” He just looked at me and then walked away. Immediately my mom said, “Dawn, what happened in there? Did you steal something?” I started bawling and told her I just took a piece of candy (a Zotz, no less – it cost a nickel.) She marched me right back into that store and made me tell the manager what I did, apologize, and pay for the candy.
    I rode home in silence and shame and, of course, never stole anything ever again.

    1. Is it wrong to say I loved Zotz? Because I did. Was it a purple one? Not that you enjoyed that candy or anything, but I need to know which color you simply had to have. I never stole any candy, but if I was going to steal some I probably would have stuck a Snickers down my pants. It’s my understanding that Snickers really satisfies you. 😉

      1. Renee – It was a green one, of course. That sour apple was just calling my name….
        Snickers? Meh. I am a Milky Way girl. Or Zero bars…

      1. I love them, too! It takes a lot of courage to teach your children well. To be willing to be hated, feared. But look at the upstanding citizens that are created when parents set firm boundaries. Geez. I wish everyone had the strength to teach their kids to do the right thing.

      2. My mom was the best at those lessons. Still is. My most favorite, “recent” piece of advice she gave me is: “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” This gem she passed on when my oldest was about 6 years old, and has been my personal parenting mantra ever since. 🙂

      1. LOL – “Stuff” just doesn’t beckon me like it used to, so I’m pretty sure there are no relapses in my future. Unless, of course, I can manage to swipe that Gucci hobo bag I keep salivating over in the Vegas Gucci boutiques….

  15. As I read the comments your post elicited, Peg, I’m struck by how much shame we all hold inside for things long since atoned for. If not by the law, more severely by ourselves. Those of us who have a conscious, of course.

    Very touching and sad and evocative this post. And sad.

    1. It’s so true. Some of us hold onto those invisible super-heavy things inside us for a long time. Too long, maybe. But look how beautiful they are when shared with others. Because we all carry something or other. Nice to meet you, Tar Buns.

        1. Oh Peggy, you have no idea. Sometimes I’m paralyzed, reading all these great pieces from my fabulous blogging friends: it can breed a little insecurity. You know? I think I understand why Greatsby stays at his own place. He doesn’t ever have to question his voice.

  16. On a happier note, Peg’s on the road to visit her fabulous 🙂 Michigan family and enjoy St. Patrick’s Day. We grew up watching the St. Pat’s parade 1.5 blocks from our home. Now our sister has an appt. right on the parade route so it will be cold, but great fun!
    Life moves on. Happy St. Patty’s to all the Irish out there (and, everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!) Watch for the greening of the river in Chicago!

    1. I am here! I am here! Delighted to have touched down in the great state of Michigan (Water, Winter, Wonderland). Let the St. Paddy’s games begin!

      1. Hahaha. Am I the only one who gets that reference? Pego as Hester Prynne. Sounds like you were not allowed to stay silent. For the first time in my life, I’m grateful that I have hair that isn’t barrette friendly.

  17. You sure know how to tell a story, Peg. I was riveted. I completely relate to selling my soul to be popular and everything changing when I made the cheerleading squad. I went from Polly Perfect to smoking and drinking overnight. Thank you for reminding me so vividly of that time and for sharing so honestly here. Well done!

    1. Holy crap, Mary! More twinsies. Isn’t Peg fabulous?

      I was thinking of you today. I’m STRUGGLING with a stupid post. Like four hours of going nowhere. I feel like I’ve lost my mojo. Meanwhile, congratulations for making it to Scary Mommy! You go, girl. So proud of you. I think I need a blogging vacation. I don’t know what has happened to me.

      1. I’ll join you on that vacation. I’ve been so out of it this week. Don’t know where the week went and what I have to show for it? I hear you on the post paralysis – ugh!

      2. You’ll never lose your mojo, Renee. But I can SO relate to the words just lying there on the page like dead fish, refusing to leap and dance at your bidding. It stinks.

  18. Oy vey, Peg. This was very brave of you to tell this story. Thank you for sharing it. I, on the other hand, do not have such bravery, unfortunately. But let me just say that this story hit home in a very major way. So well written and personal. Bravo for your honesty.

    1. Thanks Misty. I don’t know if it was brave or foolish, but it was a long time ago. My parole officer was an old lady at the time, so I figure she’s dead by now and not likely to bother me.

  19. Food. That sounds so pathetic and miserable doesn’t it. It was. most looked the other way, a few chased my brother and I down the road and a couple of times the police took us home to a father who didn’t care. The desperate need to banish that little girl from the history books has me very tired. I need a cup of tea – yes I paid for the tea.

  20. I can not believe you had a parole officer over a barrette. Tough town. Where I grew up the devil was behind everything. I was so afraid at the thought of the devil instructing me to steal I`d run out screaming in fear.

  21. I saw an expose on TV when I was 8 or so, showing how thieves used shoe boxes with trap doors to steal items. I took a shoe box from my Mom’s closet and carefully cut one corner then the adjacent one to make a trap door. First problem: Have you ever seen what passes for “careful” cutting of anything by an 8 year old? Second problem: Does it make sense for an 8 year old to be walking around the baking supplies aisle of a supermarket carrying a shoe box? Third problem: Does it make any sense that said shoe box is for a pair of women’s open-toed pumps in size 8 1/2 from Bamberger’s Department store??

    Needless to say, I was busted by the store manager who called my parents. My intended booty? A bag of shredded coconut. I didn’t even develop a taste for coconut until I was in my 20’s, likely due to this traumatic event.

    1. I think I saw that show – they were gypsies. I think that trick worked a little better for them because they had big, flowing skirts to hide the boxes in, probably not an accessory that an 8-year-old boy would have.

      I’ve got to ask…coconut?

  22. Oh, Peg. I feel your shame…mostly by remembering my own. I was a few years older, but had no reasonable explanation for my brief foray into a life of crime. I was caught…I was shamed…I never did it again. It was during a crazy, turbulent time in my childhood home (that is not an excuse) and the lessons I learned stayed with me for life. I would have given anything – ANYTHING – to have never caused that disappointment to my mother at an already difficult time for her, but I did and I still regret that more than my actual misdemeanor.

    Retail theft is a serious problem – and people will steal almost anything. One of the times I had to serve on jury duty was for a “larceny from a building” trial. The perpetrator had 17 CDs and DVDs on his person (in every conceivable spot) when stopped outside the establishment. I disclosed to the judge (and the entire courtroom) that I had been caught as a youngster, reliving my shame once more — and surprisingly, they left me on the jury panel. I was uncomfortable throughout the entire process – and although I took my civic duty seriously, I felt very hypocritical, so much so that I barely spoke during the deliberations.

    1. I would think you were the perfect juror because of your experience> I guess the really bad thing would be if we didn’t learn from these early mistakes.

  23. Peg, who would have thought! So many teens get pressured into things they know are wrong and end up in exactly the same position you did. At least it was a terrible experience you learned from and was done.

  24. Am I the only one who wants to know what happened to your accomplice? Did she get the whole Dragnet treatment, too? And did your Kresge make delicious hot fudge sundaes? That’s what I remember about the one where I grew up.

    1. Chocolate pudding with sprinkles. We got it every Sat. She went through the same stuff I imagine. I don’t remember ever talking about it with her. We drifted apart in high school. My parents thought she was a bad influence, but I suspect her paretns thought the same about me.

  25. Although I suspect I am “holier than thou,” I actually stole a walnut when I was around 5. I remember my mother took me back to replace in the big bin and apologize to the grocer. That may have steered me clear of a life of crime. There’s a current news story about a Mom who is making her daughter wear a tee shirt that says, “I am a thief.” I wonder who agrees.
    Great post Peg!

  26. I’m just kinda speechless. Peg’s post was awesome in itself and then the comment thread began … I laughed, very loudly several times … I cried … and chuckled and nodded … Thank you, Renée and friends.

    1. I am blessed to have some fabulous followers. And Peg has some beautiful people, too. THIS is why we blog, right, Patricia? This is why we do it? For the sense of community. So glad to have you here. You are one of the blessings in my life. Truly.

  27. Hmm… I don’t think I remember taking anything. Probably just because I’ve always been so lazy. It seems like there would be some effort involved in that.
    Also, I’m fairly certain I once set part of the cool science table on fire. Unintentionally, though. SCIENCE!

  28. One thing that popped in my head while reading this post was “man, I’m glad I never auditioned for cheerleading.” Being a band nerd and on student council did not produce the same flavor of peer pressure. For sure.

    Thank you for this powerful post, and for encouragement as a parent that sometimes being firm and seemingly mean is really the best, and kindest course of action. Not that my four-year-old is into thievery. Well, except for the little car toys that I seem to find in his pockets when we return from his friends’ houses…oh boy…

  29. That really was a life lesson. The wool too! You were still so very young and I remember wanting to fit in too.
    There is nothing quite like humiliation to keep us from making the same mistake twice….
    Thanks for sharing your story Peg! I bet it wasn’t easy…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop