Why I Don’t Steal
Commentary by TLB Contributing Writer: Ken LaRive
My second job out of college was that of a liquor salesman. I worked for the largest liquor distributor in the state, and controlled ninety percent of my account’s back bar. There was little competition, and I knew before I walked in a business that I would get the biggest order. I collected weekly from their two week open accounts, and if for some reason they wouldn’t or couldn’t pay, I would put them on a black list where no other liquor companies would sell to them until it was cleared up. For them it meant overpaying at a grocery store if they needed liquor, and driving to my warehouse from the country took time and expense. This power gave me respect in the little towns I called on, and my one hundred and twenty-eight accounts looked for me to take their order every week responsibly.
Sometimes I carried a .38 revolver in my briefcase. On certain days I had thousands of dollars in collections in a zippered bank pouch in my briefcase. It was especially full during the holiday seasons. I only had to pull it out once. There had been a new barmaid minding a sleazy bar, and two drunken men I had never seen before began to verbally abuse me. One was already around the bar when I banished it. They left quickly. Soon, it was all around the clubs, and from that time on the trouble makers gave me a wide berth.
Time was money, and I measured how long it took to get in and out with an order, with the amount of money in my pocket. Unless I had to talk them into a promotional item, I would rather be on my way.
I remember it like yesterday. A small convenience store that I had called on for years, with a standard order of three cases of cheap wine, and one case of an assortment of hard liquor, was about two-fifty in pocket change. Hardly worth my time. I thought.
I looked at my watch when I saw that his wife was running the store. He must have been on an errand or something, and there were two children asleep in a play-pen behind the counter. I felt no empathy. I was late already, and with four customers deep at the counter, afraid to let me make my own order, and nothing for me posted on the register, I sullenly moved aside to wait my turn. I fidgeted, opening up my briefcase and taking out my order pad, fuming at the injustice of this lost time. My body language said it all. How unprofessional! It was Tuesday; I’m here on time, as I have been without fail for my years of calling on these people. What is this bull that I have to wait while they make all the money? I thought. They don’t care about me!
As a side line this lady fired pieces of ceramic. Little figurines of clowns, ash trays, Virgin Marys, flowers, and such, and they were displayed row upon row on the shelves. I noticed two painted chickens at about three dollars apiece, tucked deep on a dusty ledge. I slipped two of them in my briefcase, a rooster and a hen. It was easy, and I felt good about it. I’d show these sorry excuses for business people. My time is valuable too! I thought.
When I got home I put my trophies on our book shelf. My wife asked me where I got them, and I told her that I had picked them up somewhere. I didn’t lie. A book fell over a few days later and chipped the comb on the rooster’s head. I glued it back. They were inexpensive pieces of junk. I thought. Not worth even three dollars each.
A week went by and I was heading home after a long day of selling. I had been all around the countryside, and looked forward to getting home. Ten more minutes and it would be me and the sofa, television and a beer. It was a pretty afternoon, I remember it was spring, and the sun slanted through the oaks along the road in a soft golden glow.
I turned a sharp curve and suddenly saw the wreck. An ambulance was flashing its lights and people scurried out of its way as it made for the hospital. Trapped, and frustrated for the delay, I got out of my car and surveyed the scene.
Three men lay on the side of the road in a great mass of computer paper; all were alive. Small groups of people huddled around them, trying to make them comfortable until help arrived. Along with the paper, they had all gone through the windshield of the van, now lying on its side in the ditch. It had run head on with a car. I could see it alone, twisted and smashed on the center line.
One of the pedestrians at the scene said the ambulance had just left caring an older lady who was hurt real bad, and a little girl who had flown into the dash-board from the back seat. She had a deep cut on the side of her face. She had been so dazed that she hardly responded as they had tried to stop the bleeding.
The police had not yet arrived, but far in the distance I could hear other assorted sirens, and I knew help was on the way. One of the men was looking up, trying to see above the ditch. His head was matted in blood, and he was mumbling something under his breath. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” He whispered. His long neck wobbled in his effort to look at the car, and a man next to him was telling him to relax as help was on the way. I started to get a lump in my throat, an unfamiliar feeling I couldn’t swallow.
I walked to the twisted remains of the car and saw that the driver was still in it. Her face was away from me, her body crushed back by the engine pushing the dash board and steering column into her, breaking the seat from its bolts in the process. There was no blood, yet her face and neck were criss-crossed with cuts. I remember thinking that she had died on impact. It was a force so great that she didn’t have time to bleed. I remember the squares of safety glass on her breasts, and in her hair. Her body was young, and I began to realize that at this very moment her family must be hearing about this, and as some deep emotion welled up in me, I decided to put my coat over her face. Wouldn’t I want someone to do the same for my loved one? I thought.
Both doors were wide open, and I walked around to the other side, to bend down, coat in hand. Blood pooled on the seat. Was it from the child’s face? I reached over, holding the coat with both hands, and there, so close to her cut up lips, her half closed eyes, her broken nose, her fragile white neck with the little dangling cross that glinted in the dying sun, was the woman I had taken those two chickens from…
As I look back after all these years, those two hand-painted chickens have long ago broken to pieces, but the face of that woman will remain with me for the rest of my days.
Months later, I went back to that mom and pop convenience store, in that little country town, and bought her best and most expensive piece, …a glazed bowl of fruit. I bought it from her husband who was finally working again. He told me those guys had been drinking, and that they would surely pay. His wife’s mother died in route to the hospital. I could see his pain as he talked about his two children, and the grandparents who were now helping to take care of them. He never mentioned the little girl with the cut face, and I didn’t ask.
I never told him why I was there. I wanted to tell him about the guy who looked up with his bloody head at his wife in that twisted car, saying how sorry he was. I never did. I still have that bowl of fruit tucked away safely in our cedar chest.
There has been a lot of water under the bridge since those days. I have grown to believe that nothing happens by chance or is wasted in this world, and I try with all my might never to take anything that doesn’t belong to me. The object stolen, no matter how small, owns you.
I realize that what makes you what you are, are the lessons you have learned.
Read more from KEN’S CORNER
From the Author, Ken La Rive – We in the Liberty movement have been fighting to take back this country for less than a decade, peacefully and with the love of God and country in our hearts. Our banner has been trampled on and displaced by a multitude of distractions, further eroding our nation and the cause for Liberty. And so, as we are pulled by forces we cannot fathom, powerful entities with unlimited resources stolen from our future, unaccountable trillions printed out of thin air and put on our backs as debt, we must formulate the most pitiful of all questions any patriot might ask in the final hour: Are we going to fight for our master’s tyranny, or are we going to demand the return of our civil liberties and Constitution? Are we going to choose The Banner of Liberty, or the shackles of voluntary servitude? Will it be a war for corporate profit, or a war to regain our ability to self govern, as the blood and toil of our forefathers presented to us, their children, as a gift? I fear that decision is emanate. I fear that any decision will be a hard one, but my greatest fear of all is that the decision has already been made for us.
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