Friday Firesmith – Thief

The young blonde man with really long hair was destined to be fired. He’s one of the first people I met in the construction business, and back in 1992, there simply weren’t that many men working construction who had long hair. His name was Kim, no really, that used to be a common male name, years ago, but in this case, it made it even more surreal that he had long hair. But Kim stole things, and he had done time for stealing. One of the first things I was told was to lock my truck around Kim because he stole things. It turned out to be true, he came to work carrying a large cooler, for his lunch, Kim said, and at the end of the shift, they caught him trying to sneak an electric hand drill into the cooler.

I asked him one time, why he stole things, and he told me he didn’t understand why people didn’t steal from companies and businesses because they stole from people. In an odd way, that makes some sense, but at the same time, I’m not getting into shoplifting for social justice.

One of the weirdest people I knew was a great employee when he wasn’t trying to rip someone off, and sure enough, to do business with this guy in any form was to get shafted. He had a side job in the timber cutting business and when his employer died he stole three chainsaws out of the man’s truck before the body was cold.

Years ago, I dated a woman who stole over a thousand dollars from a store where she worked as a manager. The place had been hit by two guys wearing masks and carrying guns, but they just got what was in the two cash registers. Mary took some hundreds and twenties from under the cash tray and stuck them in her purse before the cops got there. She quit right after the robbery, citing fear of it happening again, and no one ever knew she took the money. I was shocked, really, because as far as I knew, she had never done anything like that before. I asked her what she did with the money, and she said she paid bills with it, bought her niece some clothes, and saved the rest. She felt bad but never offered to pay it back.

I’m not sure what drove what was a fairly ethical person to steal money, especially in light of the fact she had just experienced an armed robbery, but she told me the idea hit and was executed in a matter of seconds. They weren’t out of the parking lot before she was moving.

Trauma? Opportunity? Who knows?

There’s no way for those of us here, who have never served any real time, to figure out why people do the things they do when they do them, and if they’ll return to that sort of behavior, regardless of the costs. It’s a complicated issue as far as the why, I’m sure, but some of us have just never stolen anything to cause our lives to be complicated by theft.

Stick Man got arrested for stealing an ATV on the third of July. He’s been fired. His foreman told me he said, “Tell Mike I’m sorry.”

Take Care,

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.


16 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – Thief”

  1. Awww, stick man. I was pulling for you. Hope he gets it together and stays on the right path. Jail time can have a way of providing focus. Or of providing despair. Hope it’s the former

  2. Opportunity is a huge contributor.

    I spent years in banking, and I work for government now, and in my experience most people who would never plan a theft got suckered into it because the chance came along. Whether it was shoving some cash in their pocket or embezzling or whatever, it comes down to a situation where only one or two people were aware of something.

    This is why we require at least three different people be involved in any sort of transaction process – it isn’t foolproof, but it is much harder for three or more people to keep anything secret.

    • Deodand, I believe that to be perfectly true. Most of the trouble I have been in over the years came from poor impulse control. I think that was got Mary and the stolen money. Maybe it got Stickman.

  3. “Tell Mike I’m sorry.”
    Sounds like you made an impression on him that might have a positive impact in the future. You may be the bulb that lights up when it sinks in that his decisions affect more people than himself.

    • Bruce, his foreman thought I was doing the young man some good. Neither of us have all the details, or any answers right now. I’m not angry, I’m just frustrated that whatever he had going on in his life, he made it worse.

  4. Awe man, I was pulling for him as well. I hope he can get his life straightened out so he can be a good influence to his kid the way he wanted to.

    • Chick, very rarely, especially days, am I surprised by the actions of human beings, but this caught me wrong. I really believed he was headed in the right direction.

  5. I’m sorry to hear about Stickman too. I hope this is his final act of anarchy and that he turns things around. Who knows. BTW, your former date’s money-under-the-till story reminded me of the Elliott Gould movie The Silent Partner. I’ll have to look that one up and watch it again.

    • Mini, maybe he has to lose more before he understands what’s gone. I’ll have to look that movie up, too. Mary wasn’t the type to steal, I keep saying that, but it keeps being a very inaccurate description, doesn’t it?

  6. When I was about 10 or 12, somewhere in that range I think, I was at a W.T. Grant store and had bought a mirror for my bicycle. While roaming the store I decided for some reason to put one of those large comical hair combs (about a foot long) into the bag I had the mirror in without paying for it. Of course, I was caught and taken to the store office and they called my dad and told him. They let me go and I had what was a very long bike ride home from a not too distant place.
    When I got home I got the only whipping I can remember my dad giving me. I learned a lesson that day.
    To make matters even worse I had the money in my pocket to buy the stupid damn comb.

    • Jon,
      You know, kids do that sort of thing, and hopefully, but the time they are grown they’ve learned. But to steal something that cost more than you can have in your pocket, I wonder, really, what causes people to do that.

  7. I, too, am sorry to hear about Stickman.

    Mike, maybe you should visit him in jail–by just being there for him and talking might help him straighten up and “fly right” once he gets out of jail.

    Regardless, I hope he does go to the right path when he gets out.

    • Tim, my first impulse is to reject your suggestion out of hand. Fool me once…

      But you’re a thoughtful human being, and I realize my reaction would be of anger, not reason.

      There’s much to be considered here, and I wonder what sort of effect it would have on him for me to drive seven hours just to tell him he’s still a good person?

      And thanks, not only you but everyone in this. I’m glad we’re not the type of people who are saying to cut him loose and let him sink or swim.

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