NEW CASTLE —
I've stumbled across yet another conundrum in my life — I am a thief.
It's not every day that you can make such a stark discovery about yourself, but when you have the innocence of a 7-year-old child relaying this information to you, you are best advised to take heed.
Please allow me a moment to explain my revelation. I was emptying the pockets of my work pants at the end of a grueling day. I plopped a wrinkled gas receipt from that morning onto my tattered old dresser along with a few odd coins and bright shiny metallic pen.
I was flanked by my constant companion, my daughter. She was standing beside me observing my every action. As the shiny writing instrument clanked on the top of the dresser, it drew her immediate attention.
“Ewww, where did you get that?” she asked. Without a thought or a moment of hesitation, I replied, “I got it from work.”
“Did you buy it?” she quickly replied.
I stammered, “Well, no ... I, um ... .” I was trapped. How do you explain the finite gray areas of such a situation to a child? Before I had a chance to recoil and gather my thoughts, she shot out, “You’re a robber.”
That verbal arrow hit me directly in my heart and knocked all the wind from my proverbial sails. I hung my head in defeat. I am, in fact, a thief. I admit it. I stole an extraordinary writing instrument from work. But, it writes with a fine and even line, and nobody was using it. It felt good in my hand. It felt like it was mine from the moment I picked it up. I didn't intend to steal this inanimate object, but somehow it remained in my possession. It migrated from my hand, to my pocket, to my home.
It's only a pen. It's no big deal. How much could it be worth? Fifty cents? A dollar at the most? I justified my accidental deception. My conscience repeatedly scolded me. What if I took a dollar from work? It's only a dollar, right? How about five or 10? What if I did that every day? That would definitely be wrong. Right?
Is that over the line? Who said there was a line in the first place? The Good Book does not say thou shalt not steal if the intrinsic value is less than $1.
Finally, I relented as I knew my conscience had beaten me. Lock me up, I'm guilty. Punish me as you see fit.
Yes, my darling, I stole the pen from work. I was wrong. I should have never done that, and I will return it tomorrow.
To make retribution for my unethical and downright sinful actions, I scoured the house and found all the other pens I have removed from my work place and returned them quickly.
To my surprise, I found more than 25 pens that I had “lifted” from work, along with several Sharpies and a couple of very nice highlighters. I neatly placed them all in a plastic bag and took them to work with me the very next day.
I arrive before anyone else, and I was able to walk around filling all the pen holders. I felt like the Easter Bunny leaving little surprises for all my co-workers.
In the days that followed, it was great to have a plethora of pens to choose from each time you reached for one, rather than having to search to find even one chewed up and discarded pen every time you needed to write something down.
The funny thing is that after just a few days, I had trouble finding a pen when I needed one. Undoubtedly, these pens that once dwelt in my home are now being fostered in the homes of some of my thieving co-workers.
The nerve of some people.