Monday, July 14, 2008

Pearl 20: Thou Shalt Not Steal...EVER!

Dear Gehrig and Eliana,

Well, here it is 3:30 PM on a Monday and I am sitting here at the office writing when I should be home at “Camp PK” with you.  However, I wanted to get this letter off  before you left since it relates to something that happened to your family while you were here.

Wasn’t Aunt Brittany and Uncle Sae’s wedding the most fabulous event down in Austin two weeks ago.  It sure seemed like you enjoyed yourselves, especially at the reception where you both danced and charmed your way into everyone’s heart.  It sure looked like you were having fun.

Of course there was a black spot on the event which was really unfortunate.  It seems thieves took the opportunity to break into four vehicles in the Onion Creek Country Club parking lot, mine and one other of our wedding guests, and two out of town golfers.  Aside from my brand new GPS and my cell phone, all I lost was a relatively inexpensive cell phone charger.  Unfortunately, your mom did not fair so well.  She had left her travel bag in the car with her wallet and all her jewelry.  Not to mention the inconvenience of having to cancel and reinstate all her credit cards and get a new driver’s license, she lost over $ 8,000.00 worth of cash and valuables, some of which can never be replaced.  This included the diamond stud earrings your Granny and I gave her when she graduated from The University of Texas.  This made us all very sad.

When I was 12 years old I had a paper route.  It took me all over Pomona, the Southern California city I grew up in, to deliver about 110 papers each day.  I earned pretty good money to supplement my dollar per week allowance and it kept me in candy and Bubble-Up.  Every afternoon, after school, I rode my bike to the paper station, picked up and folded my papers, put them in a double sided bag over my shoulders and peddled the 7 miles of my route.  It took about two hours.

About half way through my route was a little neighborhood grocery store that I used to stop into for a soft drink and, maybe, a bag of peanuts.  One day I was checking out and put my money up on counter for the grocer.  He was there alone and I think he did everything from stock the shelves to run the register.  As he turned around to deposit my coins in the register, I spied a package of wintergreen LifeSavers ® in a little display at eye level.  I wanted the mints and I had the nickel in my pocket to pay for them but I didn’t want to part with that nickel.  So I reached up and took a roll, palmed them in my hand and put it back down at my side just as the grocer turned around.

He looked at me and I immediately felt his penetrating stare.  “Is there anything else you want?, he asked.  As my face turned beet red I lied and said, “No”.  He paused for a long moment and then said, “Not even those LifeSavers in your hand?”  “Oh, these”, I said, “Yes, I want these as well…uh, how much are they?”  He told me and I fished the nickel, hands trembling, out of my pocket and offered it to him.  He took it and looked at me with those eyes and I turned to go.  “Son”, the man said sternly, and I turned back to face him, my knees trembling, “those LifeSavers belong to me.  They don’t belong to you until you pay me for them.  Don’t you ever try to steal from me again or I will have you arrested…do you understand me?”  I stammered that I did and nearly wet my pants as I turned and bolted out of his store.  I got on my bike and rode like the wind to my next throw and made it home in record time.  Which kind of brings me to my next pearl which I will “borrow” from the Ten Commandments.

Twentieth Pearl:   Thou Shalt Not Steal….EVER!

I was mortified and humiliated.  I felt awful that I tried to steal something and still to this day cannot figure out why I even tried.  But instead of wasting time trying to figure out how in the world that man saw me take those mints, I vowed then and there never to steal anything from anybody ever again.  And that experience made me insensitive to anyone who steals anything from another person. 

People who have never learned this lesson take things that don’t belong to them everyday.  Billions of dollars of merchandise, cars, cash and even identities are stolen each year and whether it is done physically or over the Internet, those thefts are a violation of another person’s rights and liberties as well as their possessions.  And that is a crime as heinous as any other and more than most.

If you want something that you don’t have, you buy it.  If you cannot afford it, you work hard to earn enough money so you can buy it.  If it is out of your reach, then you will have to live with the disappointment of not owning it.  I hope you will never have the circumstance arise where you feel tempted to take something that does not belong to you, but if you do, listen to your Grandpa who learned a long time ago, don’t do it.  Not only will I be disappointed if you do, but so will you.

Well, Camp PK is over on Friday and we will be flying back home with you to New Jersey for 10 more days until we have to return to Texas.  But Granny and I will always remember your time here in 2008 and look forward to your month with us next year.

I love you bunches and bunches,

Grandpa Jud

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