Theft is not the same thing as racism – one is a crime

Megan Nicol Reed writes in the NZ Herald:

Because I am an anally retentive sort of a person, and because I fancy it makes the checkout operator’s job that little bit easier, I like to group my groceries on the conveyor belt. Bananas with the broccoli and beetroot. Toilet paper with the toothpaste and tampons. You get the idea. Anyway, last Sunday I had a new category. Gummy eyeballs with the spider webs and pumpkin.

“Stocking up, eh?” commented the woman serving me. “Halloween’s huge around this area, isn’t it,” she said. And then, sotto voce, “You know, I hear they come all the way from South Auckland for the trick or treating. Whole carloads of them,” she sniffed.

“So?” I said it quite boldly, and it was not what she was expecting. She had wanted my indignation, that we might quiver together in shared outrage. Instead we finished our transaction in an awkward silence.

Afterwards, loading my purchases into my car, I thought about her oddly-misplaced snobbery, about her thinly-veiled racism, about what else I could have said.

As I was lifting out my last bag, I saw, languishing in the back of the trolley, a round of brie. A round of brie I hadn’t paid for, that sub-consciously I knew I had deliberately left in the trolley.

You see, I make a habit of checking my supermarket receipt, and more often than not find I have been overcharged, two boxes of teabags rung up when I only bought one, that kind of thing. And because sometimes I don’t have time to return to the store to have the error rectified, and because I know how dishonorably supermarkets can behave towards small suppliers, and because it irks me to pay more than I owe, occasionally I take matters into my own hands.

Accidentally omitting to pay for some small thing of similar value the next time I do my shopping. Slipping my stolen cheese in with the yogurt, and butter, it occurred to me that, had the checkout operator witnessed my small act of thievery, she would quite probably, and perhaps rightly, judged me as harshly as I had her.

So Megan Nicol Reed writes about she recently stole from a supermarket. This is okay to do because of any of the following:

  • The checkout operator was
  • She was once over charged in the past
  • Because she disapproves of how supermarkets treat small suppliers

And then she says that kindness should be our guide. Except towards people who own supermarkets where she shops.

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