Survival

We get told not to steal since we've born. We're told that stealing is one of the worst things you can do, and images of petty thieves left handless in more brutal times come to mind. But what if you have no other choice? Does that make it wrong? I was homeless for quite some times, and while I tried to live an "honest" living hooking. But quite a bit of the time I found myself without enough money to buy food. So I would go in with a reasonably sized purse to a drug store, 99 cent store, or a big chain store and fill it with food and other necessities. Socks, deodorant, underwear, shampoo, that sort of stuff. And of course condoms. Then I would buy something small, like a dollar drink. As long as I looked confident and didn't look dirty I never got a sideways glance. I shoplifted nearly every day at one point, feeling a great burden of fear and guilt as I tried to grab enough food to last me the day.

Now I'm in supportive housing and I'm finding the temptation to shoplift extraordinary. I get food vouchers, but much of the food at the food banks are spoiled or are something I can't eat. It's really difficult to walk through an aisle and not think to myself "I could slip this bar of soap into my pocket" but I know that if I got caught, I'd be completely ******. My housing and food stamps are all I have going. My boyfriend insists on cooking for me or taking me out to eat and I hate it because actually tasting fresh, good food just makes it more obvious how awful and processed and poor quality the **** I'm eating is, and I refuse to be reliant on him. And then there's so much that food stamps don't cover, like they cover toothpaste but not toothbrushes. And I get paid such **** wages at my job, it's painful to pay $10 for a shirt knowing the production value is no more than a dollar, when I could slip it into my bag for free and spend that money on a hot meal.

I've heard people call shoplifters the scum of the earth and have heard people blame shoplifters for the rising cost of products. Because the enormous conglomerate that wants to milk as much money as possible has nothing to do with that. Should I have starved on the streets? Should I have gone hungry? What for? How would dying hungry be more noble than being a petty thief? I have a ******* Masters degree and there are people who honestly want me dead and think I'm a waste of oxygen.
cephaloscotti cephaloscotti
26-30, F
1 Response May 14, 2012

Wow, interesting. I mean, Down Under we were taught that shoplifting was wrong, but ... it was 'petty crime', certainly not one of the worst things you could do, and not a terrible awful thing, nor would shoplifters be the scum of the earth (well outside the most extreme of reactionary circles).<br />
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I havent shoplifted since I was a pre-teen, but then, I'm fortunate enough not to have needed to. As far as I can tell, the shoplifting is factored into business overheads as part of the cost of doing business - call it street-level marketing :) - and provided people are doing it from need, not pure greed, I see no moral issue with it: in the richest society that has ever existed in this world, that those at the bottom should be left so destitute as to need this, is just a terrible moral condemnation of this society, rather than of the individuals subject to such pressure.

I've been told such horrible things. I've never been caught, but I've heard people say awful things about the homeless, treat them like less than human, and say that people who shoplift are the sole cause of rising prices. They can't seem to fathom that perhaps it is the monopolies themselves who are the ones taking advantage.

People are depressingly easy to con and there's an awful lot of money put into pumping the 'rights of the plutocracy. But America seems to despise anyone on the bottom of the pile far more than elsewhere