Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Five Finger Discount

I had to ask the Starbucks girl for chocolate-covered graham crackers – they were behind the counter. She said an “old lady” steals them so the staff hide them. Ooh, that hurts. Did they talk about me that way? Back when I stole their CDs?

Starbucks was one of the main stops in Eli's little theft ring back in my kleptomaniac days. What do they expect? They display all their merchandise out in the open and the employees are frantically distracted making drinks. If you don't frequent Starbucks (first of all, why?) they feature about four CDs at a time in a little display in front of the register. These change throughout the year. I think there's a section of my massive CD collection that's almost exclusively Starbucks CDs, and not one of them was paid for. Probably a couple of year's worth.

I didn't steal like a drug-addict, to fund my habit. I stole for the thrill of it. CDs and DVDs, electronics, office supplies, jewelry, music equipment, sex toys, and of course, that cornerstone of my addictive behaviors, over-the-counter cough syrup. I guess in a sense, I did steal to fund my drug habit. I was just lucky enough (?) to be able to steal my actual drug. None of this stealing-and-hawking that Linsey's older brother had to do. (When she was a teenager, nothing my wife hid was safe. Her brother hawked all of her jewelry for PCP.)

A guy in my SAA group told me he had been a shoplifter as well, and he understood. He understood what happens in my brain when I steal. He said that studies had shown it was similar to a heroin rush, on a smaller scale. I don't know what “studies” he was referring to, I just know that I kept going back for more.

I kept track. I had a spreadsheet that summed the total estimated value of what I had stolen. When it reached $5,000 I stopped recording it. I stole from family and friends, schools, libraries, mom-and-pop joints, corporate giants, and every drug-store I could find. I delighted in getting around preventative measures. Cameras and alarm systems were just a challenge.

I don't know how I will make amends for all of this. I'm not trying to figure that out just yet. I'm just trying to root out the buried memories of all those offenses and make my fourth step as accurate as possible. I'm guessing I'll have to wade through some combination of written apologies and financial retributions. I don't know how I'll pay for these - it gives me a stomach ache.

A counselor once told me that stealing-as-an-addiction betrays buried anger. It does. I felt the world owed me. Cleptomaniacs and Shoplifters Anonymous asks “How much would you have to steal to finally feel satisfied or to make life fair?” Like any other addiction, there's never enough. Never.

So if you work in a Southern California drug store, and you've ever found three empty cough syrup boxes and the empty packaging for a Durex vibrating cock ring stashed behind the dog food, I'm sorry. Shame isn't a strong enough word. I was trying to get away from real life, to my “bubble”, pleasantly high and having sex with a computer. And I didn't want to leave a purchase trail that my wife could find.

I just need to make sure this habit stays in the past.


  1. Good post, thanks for the reminder. I had to smuggle stuff back into work to make secret amends. Those were fun days.

  2. Thank you for writing this I REALLy NEEDED TO READ THIS THIS MORNING.
    My SO has locked his office, I am sans job, and I found the poker stash.... WOW what a freakin trip down trigger lane this is..
    I am going to NOT locate they key..... justify and tear apart bank bags of change and bills as I need gas and cigarettes.
    He, was humming his catchy passive aggressive ditty in the shower thihe is not musical OR poetic consisting of some insults in the key of B major as in bitchin b/c he needs to be relieved of the bondage of semen) Seriously?? We are HERE? At MR AA's 17 year Anniversary?
    We still do not know how to say 'I feel ( depraved, resentful, etc etc) or worse I want to go upstairs, do you? Is this difficult? Instead I witness tantrum and remain on laptop in front of fireplace and let him stomp himself to bed) And I not only do not care, indulge or go to the argument I wish I had a lesson other than this one today. I wish I could be at home in my apt with heat and running water...and the smoke soot was GONE and my environment was mine to control.

    See how this could be a perfect set up for me to go in there and raid those money bags? I mean ten bucks for gas and butts... He would NEVER notice ...
    Why it is not in a safe and why I am not privy to the facts is another blog post...
    The first day I am out of money in the 6 years I have known him....

    and I found a nice guy that does not share.. Entitlement, his dick level , my need to be cherished and adored, money (fear doubt insecurity) ........... can anyone tell me what this has to do with one day at a time not using and loving one anther through it all with a HP?

  3. Eli, I so know that thrill of the five-finger discount. At least you can think of reasons for stealing. I stole things just for the thrill of it. The funny thing is one of the last things I stole was the chocolate-covered graham crackers from Starbucks! One day at a time, I do my best to set aside that voice that says "You could take that and no one will ever know."

    "Like any other addiction, there's never enough. Never." ... Right on!