- Should I go to Popeye’s Fried Chicken or the Italian Deli to grab a bite for the ride home?
25 July 2010
I have this friend who went to a movie last night.
This friend’s wife and three kids were out of town for the weekend, so this friend had some free time for himself.
This friend decided to see the new Leonardo DiCaprio movie, “Inception.”
He liked it a lot although I, I mean he didn’t really understand like 95% of it.
When that movie ended, he decided to pull an Ernie Banks and play two, moving from theatre 22 to theatre 21 to see the new Angelina Jolie movie, “Salt.”
He liked that one too although I, I mean he thought it was as believable as Inception was simple.
Two movies for $7.50 (plus $8.00 for the small popcorn/drink combo).
Now that’s a deal.
For my friend.
I don’t know if sneaking into a second movie is considered a crime, but since it was a friend doing it (and not me), I figured it would make a perfect intro to this blog.
I’m not much of a rule-breaker and I never really have been.
Maybe it’s the Jewish guilt from my dad or the Italian guilt from my mom, but I always figured the humiliation of getting caught wasn’t worth the price of breaking the rule.
I didn’t even use Napster.
But I’m guessing living on the straight and narrow probably puts me in the minority, especially these days.
Some people may be breaking the rules for fun, but with so many out of work now, a lot more people are doing it out of necessity.
It’s even happening in places and ways you would never expect.
... A couple of days ago at the end of my therapy session, I had one more CRITICAL question that needed to be answered:
We decided that while Popeye’s would destroy the inside of me, the Italian Deli would only destroy the outside of my white t-shirt.
Ciao it was.
When I walked into the tiny deli, I was greeted by a man in his 40’s, who introduced himself as the son of the 80+ year old lady who usually works there.
He told me that for the second time in the last week, somebody had just stolen their tip jar.
He was guessing there was about $60 in there.
We talked for a few minutes about how sad it is that people have to resort to such an act to keep them going.
I’m not here to go all Judge Wapner on you, but this is just another sad sign of the times.
The Italian Deli is not in the greatest neighborhood and the man said that his mom regularly gives out free food and even money to anyone who asks for it.
I’m sure the loss of the tip money bothered him, but he seemed even more upset that somebody would do such a thing.
In case you were wondering, for my ride home I got a little plastic tub of marinara sauce stuffed with a couple of meatballs and a piece of sausage.
He also sliced some spicy italian salami for me and threw in a half loaf of fresh bread.
But I digress.
The grand total was $3, a figure that he definitely pulled out of the air, well below what he should’ve asked for.
So I gave him the $3 and then started a new tip jar with a nice deposit.
It was good to see him smile.
This wasn’t the first time this week that someone’s desperation had run across my path.
But the other example was A LOT more personal.
Just a few days earlier I received my new credit card statement for the month.
I thought the balance was much higher than usual, so I took a closer look at the itemized charges.
Sure enough, there were seven charges on the list from a city I have not visited in at least three years.
I immediately called the credit card company to see what this was all about.
I asked if any new charges had come in since I got the new statement and sure enough, there were 12 more charges from that same city.
In all 19 charges for more than $1500.
And these were at major stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Marshalls and J.C. Penney, among others.
I cancelled the card immediately and filed a report.
Supposedly/hopefully, these charges will come off my bill pretty quickly.
When I noticed the problem, I was puzzled at first.
Then I became a little upset, but only briefly.
The strongest emotion I had was sadness.
I definitely understand that this is now a part of the world that we live in and that people are going by any means possible just to survive.
Thankfully I have no idea what a person must be dealing with to do something so desperate.
The threat of being caught means very little compared to the reward of being able to pay your rent.
Or buying your kids food.
Or going to see a double-feature.
This is less about stealing money from someone else and more about just getting by.
It’s not you, it’s me.
Who knows how many other people they are stealing from and who knows if they will ever be caught.
But the fact that stealing has become their career is the saddest part of this story for me.
And my friend.