Saturday, September 28, 2013

Shoplifting and Mystery Writers and Readers

by Kaye George

I’m deep in the throes of a first draft right now. Well, maybe not deep, not as far into the project as I will be later. I’m beginning a new book, which is intense. I’m thinking up a new crime, a new weapon, new victim, new killer, new suspects, and I think there isn’t any room left in my brain for anything else.

Here’s what happened the other day. I went to the drug store to pick up a prescription. On the way to the back of the store and the pharmacy counter, I grabbed a bag of Lindt dark truffles because, well, I like them…and I wanted to reward myself for what I’ve done so far with the project.

Our new insurance is so good that there was no charge. Yay! So I picked up the little white bag of drugs with the paper stapled to it and left the store. With the chocolates. Without paying. I shoplifted, although inadvertently.

As I drove away, after throwing my stuff onto the passenger seat, I wondered why I didn’t have a drug store bag for the chocolates. That caused a curse word. I turned around and took the candy back to the front counter where I told the clerk I had walked out without paying, by mistake.

He seemed shocked. In fact, he told me I was to be commended because most people wouldn’t do that. I admit that I was shocked he said that. Surely, I thought, that’s not true.

When I got home, I posted the experience on Facebook and got a variety of comments. Many of them, from mystery writers and readers, noted that they’d done the same thing--left without paying, then returned to make it right.

That got me wondering. Are mystery fans more moral than the general population? Do we want justice in our own lives because our chosen genre deals with bad actors getting caught and paying for their sins? We deal with wrongs being righted, but only through the extreme efforts and travail of our heroic (or not) characters. In most mystery sub-genres, the bad guys get caught and justice prevails. Is that why mystery writers are honest and upstanding?

I think that most people would go back and pay. Maybe I’m wrong, but, if so, I’m going to persist in my delusion.


Kevin R. Tipple said...

I did something similiar a few years ago while also picking up a prescription. I also went back and paid for the other item.

It very well may be honesty that drove me back. It may also be the awareness of what could happen should I have gotten caught for my stupidity. Those of us who write crime, mystery, and such have a far better understanding of what can happen legal wise than those who don't.

C.M. Albrecht said...

I'm honest. I'd go back. I see various authors place a column here at times and wondered if and how I could add a few syllables from time to time.
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