When I was 12 years old, my best friend and I used to go to the Little General store for snacks. One of our favorites was Bubs Daddy Bubble Gum. For those of you who don’t remember the 70’s, it was rope bubble gum about 12” long, and was about ten cents a stick.
One day, one of us, I can’t remember which, came up with a plan to TAKE a Bubs Daddy, rather than cough up the whopping ten cents. So, I grabbed a handful of those sticks, walked to the back of the store, then stood behind the end of the aisle, in front of the milk cooler where the clerk couldn’t see me, and stuffed a couple of them into my tube sock (major 70’s trend!). After which I returned to the aisle, where I replaced all but one Bubs Daddy, then proceeded to the counter where I purchased it.
As I set that ONE rode of gum, along with a dime, on the counter, I thought for sure the entire store would hear the rapid beat of my heart! And with eyes that were undoubtedly filled with fear and guilt, I watched as the clerk rang up my transaction, thinking that any second he would grab my wrists and demand that I pull out the smuggled Bubs Daddy’s from my sock. When he didn’t, Terri and I walked outside and after we rounded the corner of safety, we stopped, and I bent down and pulled out the contraband from my sock and handed her one.
After getting away with this petty larceny once, we decided to do it again, and again, and yet again. Goodness knows how many times we shoved Bubs Daddy Bubble Gum sticks into our tube socks, until one day…
I was standing behind the end aisle, in front of the cooler, shoving about a half dozen Bubs Daddy sticks into my tube socks—our pilfering addiction had GROWN in proportion over time— and once I was satisfied that I had hidden them sufficiently, I stood and my eyes met directly with the MANAGER’S, who had been inside the cooler restocking the milk!
My heart jumped to my throat and I sank to the floor as my knees gave out. “Oh shit!” (Yes, I said that—my mother swore like a truck driver). There I sat and waited until the manager of the Little General exited the cooler and retrieved me off the floor then escorted me to the front of the store where he promptly asked me my phone number. I told him I would give it to him if he promised NOT to call my dad! Which was probably a very stupid thing to say, because once my mother arrived, he told her what I said, and SHE called my dad as soon as we got home! THAT was much worse than the one month of grounding she gave me—Do anything, but please don’t ever let me disappoint
I don’t know what my mother said to the manger of the Little General, because I was permitted back in the store—after all, SHE needed milk and bread and I was her errand girl.
However, to this day, I won’t take a paperclip if it doesn’t belong to me.