Dear Tell All: The letter writer who's feeling guilty about stealing a notepad in grade school ("Shoplifter's Guilt," 4/1/2011) should relax. That's nothing. I stole an entire couch.
Years ago I "bought" a couch from a local furniture store. The salesperson offered me one of those no-interest-for-12-months deals, which sounded great. Unfortunately, I didn't have my driver's license with me. So the woman filled out half of the paperwork and told me to bring my license in the next day. I did that, but something must have gotten lost somewhere, because I never got charged! It's been about 12 years now and I have yet to see a bill.
I've told this story to a few friends and they think I should 'fess up and pay for the couch. But I figure it was a gift. Most of the time the world kicks you around, but every once in a while your fortunes turn and fate gives you something back: a $10 bill that you find on the street, an unexpired parking meter, or in my case, a free couch. Am I wrong?
Dear Guiltless: I am completely unqualified to answer this question...not because I don't have an opinion or because I don't have a moral compass or because I'm only an intern, covering for the regular columnist, who didn't show up for work today. I'm unqualified because of my own shady past. You see, I was once the world's best shoplifter.
I figured out at an early age that if you acted like you knew what you were doing, people wouldn't question you. So I'd grab a bag of chocolates or a model airplane or even a board game, tuck it under my arm and walk right through the checkout lane. My biggest heist was a Play-Doh Fuzzy Pumper Barber Shop. It was practically as big as I was, but I simply walked out the door with it.
The problem was that I couldn't let anyone else know about my secret stash of stolen toys, for fear of getting in trouble. So I had to play with them alone. It was sad and bittersweet, the way I imagine Bernie Madoff must have felt, rolling around naked in his wads of stolen billions.
Anyway, what about the rest of you louts? Do you think Guiltless should feel guilty?