Thought Catalog
June 14, 2011

A Guide To Making Bad Decisions: Shoplifting

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Do you ever feel like things in your life are going too well? You’re taking your vitamins, having a healthy amount of sex, and paying the cable bill on time. You’re so happy, things are right on track but somehow you’re just so damn bored! Well, a surefire way to screw things up is to start shoplifting! Look, we don’t condone stealing because it’s illegal, embarrassing, and so 2002. But if you’re really jonesing to channel your inner Winona, here are some tips you should follow to avoid being arrested and taken to Shame Spiral Jail.

Shoplifting is sort of like Adderall in the sense that it appeals to people who don’t normally do bad things. Someone may lead a very straight-laced life but, oh yeah, they shoplifted a few times or took the occasional Addy to finish their homework. Duh. Shoplifting, in particular, is funny because people always start out thinking they could never do it. The sheer thought of stealing turns them into a nervous wreck so there is no way they could actually pull it off. But like with most bad decisions, they usually have a Bad Influence Friend who will gladly show them the ropes and give them the confidence that, yes, they too can engage in this illegal activity. Shoplifting is something best suited for two people anyway, just like tandem biking or sexual intercourse.

Before you go out and steal anything though, it’s imperative that you do a little Nancy Drew research first to find out which stores implement a hands off policy. A hands off policy basically means that a business can’t do shit even if they catch you stealing. I think it was created after shoplifters started suing stores for being physically assaulted by security. My friend worked at a clothing store that enforced this policy and told me that if she caught someone stealing something like a pair of bootcut jeans, she couldn’t really do anything except go up to them and say something like, “Can I help you find a pair of bootcut jeans? We have a really good sale on BOOTCUT jeans right now…” This was meant to intimidate the shoplifter, which I guess makes sense. I would be shitting my bootcut jean pants if a worker said that to me. Being subjected to passive-agressive behavior is still better than getting tackled in front of a million strangers though so stick to a store that you know won’t beat the crap out of you for stealing a pack of gum.

Once you arrive at the hands off policy store of your choice, don’t be surprised if you feel the immediate urge to poop and/or vomit. That’s just your body’s way of saying, “Hey! You’re about to do something really bad, aren’t you?! Stop it! Don’t do it. I’m going to poop or puke then. Fine. Have it your way. I’m pooping.” So there you are. Pooping in Target or some place similar and thinking to yourself, “What am I doing here? I don’t even need to steal. I work at Urban Outfitters and live with my parents. My only expenses are weed and the occasional Jamba Juice.” I mean, you’re right. Shoplifting is completely stupid and you certainly don’t need to be doing it. But I’m not your dad. I’m your guide to making bad decisions. It’s my job to tell you how to screw up your life, okay?

After you’re done experiencing some kind of release from your body, go get some reassurance from your Bad Influence Friend and start getting down to business. When going to steal, it’s important to carry the Balenciaga of shoplifting bags. You want something that’s deceptive in size. From the outside, it doesn’t look that big but on the inside you can fit yourself, all of the seasons of Dawson’s Creek, and maybe a mini-fridge.

Don’t dawdle. Be confident. Walk with your chin up high and avoid direct eye contact. Stumble upon season four of The O.C. and decide that you must own it immediately. Delude yourself into thinking that shoplifting will save you a lot of money. It’s not like you’re just stealing a bunch of stuff for the hell of it. I mean, you love The O.C.! Especially season four. You would’ve bought it anyway!

Go to some isolated corner of the store or the bathroom and start unwrapping the stolen goods. Here you are, shopping next to Susie May and Don John in the kitchen appliances section trying to get the censors out of the damn DVD box. You’re breaking a sweat and think you may have pooped your pants a bit  but you know Seth Cohen is worth it. Your nails start to bleed from your relentless digging and you’re feeling a surge of adrenaline. You know what you’re doing is wrong but it’s also the first time in a while that things have felt right. The censor comes out. You throw it on the ground, put the DVD in your bag and walk out with your Bad Influence Friend. When you pass the censors, feel like you’re about to pass out but when nothing actually happens, you’re hit with the most intense high of your life. It’s like you just took drugs. Target was your dealer and season four of The O.C. was the smack.

The addiction begins right then. The next day you can’t wait to go back to steal a goblet for your apartment. And you do. You just throw it in the bag this time. No one notices either and you’re shocked. “How did no one look when I put this gigantic glass in my bag? How could it be this easy?” Shoplifting is easy. If you think about it too much, that’s when it becomes hard. No one is expecting you to put something in your bag without paying for it. It doesn’t cross their mind. So when you do it right in front of a fellow customer, it’s like they block the image out.  It doesn’t even enter the realm of possibility so they turn a blind eye and move on.

You’re a bad boy making bad decisions now. I’m so proud of you! I’ve taken a perfectly functional train right off its tracks. Soon you’ll be needing to steal something every day. A pencil, a stapler, a deep V—you’ll take anything that isn’t nailed down. This will be your life for at least a little while. It’ll feel so good and so so weird.

You’ll eventually get caught. And when you do, I just want you to know that it’s not my fault. Don’t hurt me. You were the bored one looking to make some bad decisions, okay? I just answered your desperate call.

You won’t shoplift again though. Once you’re caught, the party’s over and you can go back to living your life that’s made of good decisions and happiness. Years later, you’ll find season four of The O.C. in your closet and wince. That show was so dumb, right? TC mark

image – W Magazine

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