My husband runs a yoga/meditation/creation space in Vancouver BC. It’s beautiful. The floors are sprung, there’s lots of light, the walls are freshly painted and there is a sitting area that’s hard to leave. He recently opened up an “honour system” shop in the kitchen for people who come to take a class and are feeling snacky. There is kombucha and coconut water and energy bars to choose from. He prices them $1 higher than he bought them for and he has a teapot in the fridge for people to put the money into.
This is a space used by yogis, meditation practitioners and artists.
He noticed pretty quickly that about 25% of his merch was getting yoinked.
Kinda annoying as it now means he’s losing $. But he kept as is because he really likes the idea of people respecting each others shit. The next week. The % of yoinked goods got higher. Then he went in there today and the teapot with $ in it had been stolen too.
So he wrote on the chalkboard “Honour system shop closed due to lack of honour” and came home.
Now he’s sitting here across the table from me really bummed out. He had all these other things he had been collecting that he wanted to add to the shop; gorgeous wool blankets, candles, sunglasses and this clothing line he is building called “Active Passive Wear” which basically means comfy 2nd hand 80’s clothes to do yoga in.
“Em” he says while we are eating breakfast. “Why would someone do that? I mean it’s a small studio, who do they think they are stealing from?”
He asks me because he knows about my nefarious past.
I’ve stolen pads from London Drugs.
I’ve stolen fleece pants from a motorbike shop.
I’ve stolen an antique necklace from a first nations art store.
I’ve stolen hemp seeds from Whole Foods.
So, he was asking the expert how did I make it ok within myself to steal? He wanted to get into the mind of a criminal and lucky for him, one was eating granola across the table.
“Because I didn’t think anyone would notice and I thought I want it so it’s mine.”
The ability to steal comes from the facility to shut your brain down. You put blinders on against all other outside stimulus (like shame and moral code) and you go for what you want because what YOU want is the most important thing.
“It’s narcissism hidden behind an anti-establishment rebel girl and it’s actually really easy if you have that kind of mental control.”
There is also a poverty mentality attached to theft. “I cannot afford nice things and I don’t deserve them so I have to find a sneaky way to get what I need.”
The worst thing I ever stole…I can’t believe I’m going to even say it…
I was working at a restaurant and I hated my life at the time. I did NOT want to be a servant at a Jazz bar. I wanted to be a STAR. So I’d invite friends in for dinner and sneak them free appetizers. This was just too easy so I started bringing in more friends and pouring generous drinks and desserts and instead of them getting 50% off- I’d just clear the whole table from the computer and they’d walk out drunk and full without spending a penny. I took it a bit too far when I had my entire family in for dinner once. I ordered five people aperitifs, lamb shank, dessert and wine. When the meal was done I unlocked the cooler that held the most expensive wine and I found one small, rare bottle of port. I opened it up and brought it to the table. This was probably over a $700 meal.
And now for the bad part…
The other waitress liked her job. She was happy all the time and she liked the owner so with my “blinders on” she became part of the enemy. I was saving money to quit the job and go travelling and she always got the better table and more tips so one shift I went into her tip jar and took some money out. I stole from her. A co-worker.
And honestly, I didn’t really think twice about it.
It is only now, with my husband, a decade later, seeing his face thoroughly disappointed in humanity when I recall the moment where I was the lowest of the low.
“I must have had a have been a screw loose” I say. But the worst thing is- I didn’t.
“Well, it’s sad really” he says. “That you felt so needy; and you were so unhappy.”
“Ya, it’s really sad.”
Then my husband perks up “Well, I think 80% of women go through a stealing phase.”
I know that gross generalizations are frowned upon but he’s not usually wrong so I’m going to go with it.
“Ya, women go through a stealing phase and men go through a bike riding phase” he pontificates further.
“So that means a woman stole the money from the teapot in the fridge?”
“Yep! And if she had waited a week she would have gotten a wool blanket and some fluorescent green spandex shorts too” he chuckles.
“Too bad for her.”
I’m not a stealer anymore. The last thing I stole was a candle that smelled like the ocean from a high end ashram I was staying at. After a few days of hiding it under my bed and getting paranoid that the cleaning staff were spies I realized that the candle was not worth the effort so I un-stole it and promised never to steal again.
I can’t handle the adrenaline rush. Also, I have everything I need right here.
But I do want to say that I’m sorry I yoinked your tips happy waitress. I hope you are satisfied in life. I hope you are good.