My friend, Carol, scanning her items in an Indiana Walmart, noticed a curious behavior from the couple buying groceries next to her.
Since the store’s attendant was texting and not paying attention to the customers, the man and woman used this as an opportunity to scam the Supercenter. The woman twisted each item so that the code faced away from the electronic reader. She pretended to swipe but made sure the machine was given no opportunity to read and record her “purchases.”
Her partner-in-crime husband had perfected the “Beep” sound made when a purchased item was logged onto the screen and mimicked it with faultless pitch and timing.
Carol stood amazed at how these thieves operated and didn’t seem bothered that we all pay higher prices because of shoplifters like them.
We could only guess what would happen if the employee at the exit asked for their receipt.
My reaction would not have been my friend’s. Either I would tell the pilfering pair that I was going to rat them out if they didn’t pay for the groceries, or I would quietly alert the texting employee to what I had witnessed
. Carol did neither, fearing the thieves would realize that she was the stool pigeon and shoot her in the parking lot. (I have some over-reactive friends.)
More alarming, my friend said she actually was pretty impressed with the talent of the couple. Say WHAT?
It’s never easy to chastise someone, but doing nothing accomplishes…well, nothing.
I appreciate the story in the Old Testament following King David’s arranged murder of his lover’s husband.
The clever prophet Nathan was sent by the Lord to chastise David. He said, “There were two men in a certain city. One was rich, and the other was poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cows, but the poor man had only one little female lamb that he had bought. He raised her, and she grew up in his home with his children. She would eat his food and drink from his cup. She rested in his arms and was like a daughter. “Now, a visitor came to the rich man. The rich man thought it would be a pity to take one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler. So, he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared her for the traveler.”
David became livid, claiming that the rich man deserved to die and must pay back four times the price of the lamb. Nathan then exclaims that David is that man and life would not go well for him because of his sin.
The prophet modeled Proverbs 17:27: A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.
Most of the time, I work towards that goal. Sometimes, not so much. I don’t mean to be heartless, but I’ve had it with robbers who believe they are entitled to improve their lives by taking from others.
We’ve all watched phone videos of crooks walking—or riding their bikes— out of stores with their stolen goods in hand. My husband fears that this will happen when I am nearby, and he will be forced to defend me as I show neither restraint nor even-temperedness when I tackle…and scream…and grab the thieves’ wares.
And no, this does not make me over-reactive like Carol.
Sometimes we need to be brave because, let’s face it, our entire life is lived on a witness stand. God invites us to give compelling testimony to what we have seen and heard about our faith.
Wimping out is not an option. Carol needs to know that.
Maybe Walmart is a good place to start practicing.