I’ve written previously about how my Dad’s “burrito incident” was a big sign to Mom and I that Dad was having mental issues. But many decades before that, Mom and I were accused of shoplifting at a local grocery store we frequented.
Mom and I would do the shopping, then Dad would handle the check-out process. For whatever reason, Mom didn’t want to go through the line with Dad, so sometimes we would wait outside for him. I guess she didn’t want to wait in the car because she was afraid of carjackers. Anyways, when it was raining, we would linger inside the store, usually in the front waiting area. If the checkout line was unusually long, Mom and I would wander over to look at the greeting cards. I liked showing Mom the pretty cards or the funny ones. It was just how we passed the time away. Other than getting a few fingerprints on cards that we weren’t buying (and Mom’s OCD made sure everyone’s hands were clean at all times) I can’t see how we were doing any harm.
I guess a new manager came on board and became suspicious of a middle-aged mom and her 10-year-old daughter. One fateful night, when we met up with Dad just outside the store, an employee followed us out and asked if we were all together. They wanted to know why we were hanging out in the card aisle. We were all surprised by the interrogation but Mom is forever the peacemaker and tried to smooth things over. Dad was none too happy about his family being accused of thievery.
He went back to the store that week and told the manager we weren’t going to shop at that store ever again. The manager didn’t seem too concerned, which ticked Dad off, as we had been regular shoppers there for years.
I can still remember the humiliation of that incident, and how I felt the same sickening lurch when I heard about Dad stealing the burritos. I also felt the same strong instinct to defend the family reputation, to prove that we were honest people.