It’s hard enough to earn a living at a corner convenience store without having to confront a teenaged shoplifter, or let him steal whatever he wants.
My 13-year-old son just walked in the door with a story that made my blood boil, about one of the more outrageous examples of intimidation-based shoplifting I have heard.
He and a few of his Grade 8 buddies were outside a small variety store after school today when a boy they know who is in Grade 9 came along, a big kid with an air of menace about him.
This kid has a reputation among the neighbourhood boys for often having a cell phone for sale at a really good price, which he always claims to have found.
His good luck at finding cell phones ended recently, when one of his teammates on a house league hockey team discovered that his brand new iPhone 5 had disappeared from the dressing room during a game.
The coach, who knows enough to identify this kid as a suspect, searched the dressing room and found the phone in his jacket pocket, but did nothing about it, other than scolding him. He suited up for the next game.
The boys were standing around outside the store when the cell phone salesman said he was going inside to get a treat, and would be right back.
He returned with a handful of gum, candy, a five-hour energy drink and other junk, boasting that he didn’t pay for any of it.
Believing that the younger boys were impressed, he went back to the store three times in less than 15 minutes, coming back each time with more loot that wasn’t paid for.
My son says the grinning older boy “called it free food” and thought it was funny.
Our corner store has been operated for many years by a succession of Asian immigrant couples, as their first job in Canada. They’re behind the counter from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m., an incredible grind, especially after a few years, to eke out a living that can’t be much better than minimum wage.
The couple running it arrived from China less than two years ago and often have their daughter, who looks to be about four, behind the counter with them.
Clearly, the boy did not go in into the store four times within a few minutes to fill his pockets without being noticed.
The people behind the counter had to decide whether to confront him, which could have gotten physical, or turn a blind eye.
Given the slim profit margins on stuff sold in corner stores, the value of the loot could have a serious impact on the bottom line of sales on any one day.
The hard working family running the store must be wondering what they got themselves into, and what kind of people we Canadians are.