The Unauthorized Biography of Rosco P. Coltrane

When it's my moment in the sun, I won't forget that I am blessed, but every hero walks alone, thinking of more things to confess

My Photo
Location: Owensboro, Kentucky, United States


Monday, February 26, 2007

Like Taking Candy (Thanks Bessie)

When I was a small child, I stole some miniature chocolate eggs from a little general store that we lived right next to. I don’t remember any other memory from that old store because it was torn down when I was still small. But I remember stealing those little eggs. I remember that they were on a bottom shelf that faced the cash register, and that the little eggs were right next the Tootsie Rolls, which I must admit have always been a weak spot for me. I remember everything about that store. I don’t remember exactly what was said, or anything like that, but I can tell you that Bessie Alexander is the reason why I know that stealing is wrong. I was caught with my hand in the egg basket, a delicious, chocolate egg basket.

Sometimes it is just easy to get caught doing something wrong. You can be punished and feel the guilt really, really quickly. But there are also times in life where you can easily get away with something. And that is when things get difficult.

Today was one of those days for me.

I was in a situation in which I could have easily made some money without anyone knowing about. Not a lot of money, but enough money that could have really been nice in my wallet. I could have used it for a number of things. I could have bought a lot of nice things with it. I could have just slipped the money in my pocket, but I didn’t.

I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t at least think about it. No one would have ever known.

But I couldn’t do it. And here is why…

A year or so ago, a parent from my church came up to me and asked me if I was going to be working in The Greenhouse as a coordinator the upcoming week. I told him I was working that upcoming weekend.

He said, “Ok, so, my daughter took some candy last week from one of the bins. She didn’t ask anyone, she didn’t tell anyone, she just did it. She stole it. Now, here mother and I have talked with her about it. She knows it is wrong. But I need you to accept her apology when she comes in here and accept her retribution. Now, Lafe, not to put any pressure on you, but you will be making an impression on my daughter for the rest of her life. She needs to learn now, that stealing is bad, and like it or not, you are going to be the one that teaches her this. You understand this right?”

I thought about Bessie, almost 25 years before.

“Yeah,” I said, “I know what you mean.”

When she came in, she was shaking. She brought in a big bag of candy for her class, and told me that she bought it with her allowance money. She told me how sorry she was and that she would never, ever, ever do it again. And just when she was about to start crying, I accepted her apology and said, “You know, people make mistakes, mistakes don’t make people.”

She was sniffling, but had a puzzled look on her face.

“Do you know what that means?”

She shook her head.

“It means that people make mistakes. But those mistakes that we make don’t define us. Those mistakes don’t follow us around unless we let them follow us around. Understand?”

She nodded. Her father thanked me, and as they walked off, she whispered to her dad, “That was scary.”

So maybe that is the reason why I didn’t take the money and run. Maybe, here I am, almost thirty years and half a thousand of miles forming a conduit between Bessie and this little girl in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I don’t know.

But I know that taking the money would have been wrong and dishonest.

And as Willie Nelson once said, “Honesty is always the best policy, just not usually the cheapest.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stole menthal cigarettes from a "circle K" when I was about 13. It still makes me feel bad. -Shelli

2:44 PM  
Blogger Lafe said...

A Slight Addendum:

1. My mom says they were chocolate footballs, not eggs.
2. She also said that when I was in middle school I stole USATodays.
3. As Bill and Ted once said, "Strange things are afoot at the Circle K!"

4:08 PM  
Blogger Nate's Nonsense said...

I love the fact you referenced Willie Nelson and that you have character. Would you put a Willie video on your blog?

I owe you an apology because I forgot that I asked you to help me this weekend and I forgot all about it. I checked my phone this morning for messages and heard yours. "I'm sorry Lafe."

10:10 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home