It's against the law to take anything you haven't paid for from a store. It doesn't matter whether the item cost $2 or $20,000; it's still a crime. Some people do steal. And when they do they should be punished. But sometimes people make a simple mistake. Sometimes it's just a slip of the mind.
Should that person still be punished? Or should that person be able to pay for the item that he or she forgot to pay for, but meant to, and go on about his or her business?
Before you answer that question, let me tell you a story.
Welcome to Hawaii
A family moves from CA to HI, after a few weeks, they are still trying to figure out their new surroundings. The mom, dad and almost 3 year old daughter take the bus to the grocery store, getting lost in the process, finally arriving at a Safeway.
The mom is 30 weeks pregnant. She is famished; the whole family is hungry since they got lost and their trip to the grocery store took much longer than expected. As they shop, they pick up two chicken salad sandwiches, open the packages, saving the wrappers for the checkout line, and eat the sandwiches in plain view.
The family finishes shopping, pays for their groceries and exits the store. At this point, store security approaches them. It is at this point that the couple realizes they forgot to pay for the sandwiches they ate. They offer to pay the $5 for the sandwiches, but are taken to the manager's office.
Again, they try to pay for the sandwiches, explaining what happened. The manager refuses to allow them to pay for the sandwiches, citing store policy regarding theft. Instead, the store manager called the police. Four hours later, the police arrive.
The police arrested the mom and the dad, and child protective services arrived to take the almost 3 year old into custody. The mom kept her composure until her little girl was gone. At that point, she became hysterical, got sick and threw up due to her concern for her child who had never spent a night away from them.
The police booked them, took mug shots and then released the two on a $50 bond each. The parents walked back to Safeway, retrieved their groceries and walked home. At this point, it was almost midnight. The couple sat up that night waiting for the first minute they could get their daughter back. Eighteen hours after their little girl was taken from them, she was returned.
They retained an attorney. And at the attorney's advice went to the media about this. Safeway's corporate office is backpedaling fast.
Where's the humanity? I got sick to my stomach and tears welled up in my eyes as I read this account. I placed myself in this mom's shoes and I know that could have very well have been me. My heart went out to her thinking about her child being taken away from her by a person who her daughter did not know, having never spent the night away from mom and dad.
Who among us, especially while pregnant, has not opened a package of food for us or our child while shopping? And who among us, especially while pregnant, has not had a slip of the mind while running errands, particularly with a child?
I am all for punishing crimes; crimes of any degree. But there was no intent here; there was no crime here.
Safeway, have a heart; have some decency; listen to your paying customers. They may have a valid explanation. I don't have any Safeways around me, but you can bet your beans that if I did, I wouldn't give them any of my business ever again.
Safeway, this is the kind of debacle people remember. This kind of thing makes me fighting mad! Let me tell you another story, with a different flavor.
Several days ago, I saw a tweet from someone that said her aunt in MA was having back trouble and had phoned her local grocery store and asked if they could help her out. They took her list, shopped, checked out, bagged and delivered her groceries to her; all just because they value their customers.
I tweeted this woman's niece to ask her what grocery store it was. She said it was a small, local store and they didn't even have a website, but she was volunteering to create one for them since they had been so nice to her aunt.
Now that's good customer service. Trust others; give people the benefit of the doubt; have some humanity! You just might be wearing the other shoe one day and need human kindness yourself. Now, how would you answer the question? Theft or slip of the mind? Over and out...