Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Speaking Out

I read a quote on Candace Salima's blog this morning.

Thomas Jefferson once said, "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."

I think Thomas Jefferson would have been proud of me yesterday. In fact, I think he would like me a lot; I've never been much good at keeping my mouth shut. There are times when a mom just has to speak out and yesterday was one of those. I just couldn't turn my back on my great country.



I took all three girls to Wal-Mart yesterday afternoon. As I was waiting to check out, there were two women checking out in front of me. Between the two of them, they had three little girls. They were the most darling children. They were just beautiful. Two looked like twins and they were all about three years old.
My girls parked it on the floor behind my buggy with a People magazine. They always do this to pass the time, but this time they couldn't completely concentrate. They were totally distracted by what was unfolding in front of us, as was I.

While the new checker was completely oblivious, these little girls started loading up their arms with whatever they wanted from the shelves surrounding the check stands. We may not have paid much attention either, but they were knocking down a bunch of stuff while in the process, and I was surprised that their mothers didn't do anything about it. My girls were most certainly coveting some of the toys, lip glosses, and candy that they were gathering, but never said a word. They know that their allowance would have to be used and I was delighted that the magazine combined with these younger children misbehaving was distracting them from their usual, "Mom do I have enough money to buy this?"

So, on with the story, I was floored because the mother directed the children in Spanish to get a bag from the check stand and to put their stuff in it. The girls each got a bag and did exactly that. What really triggered me is that these sweet little girls kept adding to their loot. They were so excited about all their stuff and kept hugging one another and telling each other gracias and that they loved each other.

I looked to the front of the store to see if I could go and forewarn a worker before their exit, but there was just a teenage kid at the greeting place. I knew it was all up to me.

As the moms finished their shopping. I felt a twinge of guilt. I knew what I was about to do, but I have to say that I almost didn't because I felt sympathy as they used the last of their food stamps and were counting change to pay for the remaining bill. They had only bought one non-food item, fabric softener. These children were clean and had obviously been cared for physically. They had cute little outfits on and darling sandals.

But, I forged ahead, as it wasn't their physical needs I was worried about. My motherly instincts came out in full force as anxiety swept over me for the moral character they were being taught. Who teaches a three year old to steal? Especially when you live in a country that basically hands you everything you need, whether you are a citizen or not. And these girls were loaded up with non-essentials. Believe it or not, I was kind of scared. I started the inner dialogue with myself so that I could find the courage to do the right thing.

Right as the second woman was finishing up and the first woman had gathered all the girls around the buggy to leave, I approached. I looked the woman straight in the eye and pointing to the children and their loot bags I said, "They did not pay for those things. They can't just take them."

This mom was stunned. She gave me a non appreciative look which silently stated, "Mind your own business.", but proceeded to take the things from the girls and she placed them on the adjacent check stand. She never quit glaring at me. The one little girl (who I believe belonged to this first woman) went ballistic, throwing a pretty good kiddy tantrum. The other two twins almost seemed relieved.

I guess they don't want to live among tyranny either.

And, someday maybe my kids will remember me as a mom who wasn't afraid to stand up for what was right. I hope they won't just think that I don't know how to mind my own business because I could have very easily kept my mouth shut.

The moral of the story: don't check out in front of me if you are the kind of parent who corrupts my world. This mom happens to be one who still believes in the pillars of moral character that they teach at school. (Ironic that I took this photo at the school just one hour before this incident occured, huh?) And I believe in doing what it takes to teach my daughters and yours, and when you fail, you give that right to me.

26 comments:

MiaKatia said...

Good for you. That situation would have given me hives because I hate confrontation. I hope I would have been a strong as you and stood up for what is right.

Laura said...

All the more reason to love you Alice. I probably would have done the same thing. You just have to draw the line somewhere...I'll just pray that you're not on their hitlist!

Meg said...

You're so good! Jordan said he saw someone at Wal-Mart late on Saturday night who he saw grab flowers and a vase for Mother's Day he supposed. The next time he looked up, she was walking out the doors. There was only one line open and it was super long. He didn't see it, but assumed she stole them. After he told me this, I told him about when I used to sell snow cones in front of Wal-Mart on the beach. I saw many people busted for shoplifting while I sat at my little sand. There were undercover people pretending to shop and helping at the last second when the thief finally walked out the doors. Most of the time it was during Spring Break and they were stealing beer. It was quite amusing, yet I was impressed with Wal-Mart for holding those responsible for their actions.

ShEiLa said...

I think I had better start paying more attention to what is going on around me... I don't know if this behavior would ever fly in Mesquite... or so I think. I never believe that I live in a charmed world... but maybe there are opportunities for me to stand up for the morals I assume that everyone has.

ToOdLeS.ShEiLa

ps. I have never seen or heard something like this... kind of shocking actually.

Lori said...

Are you kidding me? How could the checker not even notice?? Kudos for saying something...I think you said it just right.

Heidi said...

You rock! Thanks for keeping them honest. It is never wrong to make the right choice, but it usually is not the easy choice.

Mother Goose said...

i have seen this done among spanish people also, mainly with strollers. At all types of stores like marshalls, or walmart even good will, they will put things in their stroller underneath. Perhaps, they forget about them but I doubt it. I can't believe the mother told those girls to grab a bag of things. that is ridiculous and good for you for protecting all of our dollars.
the cost of things continue to rise to cover this overage. I'm honest. I see tons of opportunities to steal, and get away with it but would never. EVER!
I guess that is why because smart people who could figure out how to do it without getting caught would never do it.

Lindsey Rose said...

Way to go! You just keep making the world better one day at a time, and I think those girls will never forget it! Your girls too, they will always know right from wrong when they learn by example

John said...

WHAT!! THAT is nuts. I can't believe nobody else cared to see what you saw. I am right with you. I would have done the same thing and done it loud! Nice! I hope it sinks in to those kids as well. Sad thing is, it very well may not. :0( Feel no GUILT!

Renee said...

Ahhhhh! That is so unbelievable. Who does that and how did the checkout clerk not see it happening? I'm sure that must have been beyond awkward for you, but thank you for what you did! Those little girls will remember what happened and hopefully not repeat what they're being taught. So sad.

erin said...

I definitely think you did the right thing. I feel sorry for those kids being taught by their parents at such a young age that it is ok to steal and take things that aren't yours. Will they think its ok in 10 years when they are escorting them to court for shoplifting?

Klin said...

*APPLAUSE, APPLAUSE, APPLAUSE*

I would have spoken up, too.

I am so glad for others out there like you.!!!!

You rock. I love your last line about when then don't do it they give that right to you. If more parents believed this my Tuesday meeting would be a LOT shorter.

Bunch of Brooks' said...

I really really hope I could've done it. I know I would want to, but to tell the mom directly takes a lot of courage! Good job...it's a wonderful feeling after you do something so courageous just to make the right choice!

The Wills Family! said...

Way to go Alice! Doing the right thing can sometimes be tough. What a good example you are to your kids, something they will remember for a VERY long time!

Mel said...

YAY for you! You did the right thing! I would have chickened out but Gavin would have spoken right up!! :) & Emma would have expected me to to say something as well. I guess I need to work on my confrontation skills so if this ever happens to me I can be prepared.

I love the pic of your girls.... love the socks :)

Marla said...

Wow!! I can't believe that yet somehow I kinda can. Good for you for doing the right thing!

Don Ashley and Tigger said...

Go Alice! That would have been extremely HARD to do, but I back ya a 100% and would have done the same. I am a big people watcher, especially at Wal*Mart and have seen some, urg,amazing things unfold in the check-out lines -- but nothing quite like that.

I can confront those I don't know easily...it's the ones I know that scare me.

brimhallbunch said...

yeah for you. go alice. I'm not sure I would have had the guts, but perhaps with your example, I'll try harder. Love ya, Heather

Chantay said...

I am very proud of you!!

Someone told me recently that they are going to remodel soon and remove the self check-out lanes because of stealing. Maybe those are the lanes they are losing money on though. :-)

Jason, Kodi and Jake said...

wow...that is brave. i don't know if i would have been brave enough to do that. i am afraid of being beat up. I hope I would have been though. Good job alice! That is why we love you!!

Katina Angola said...

I would have done the same thing. Alice, you are someone I look up to all the time. Even though you have your quirks. You are one of the best people I Know.

One Happy Family said...

Good for YOU! What courage to stand up to what you witnessed. Everyday I continue to be amazed at the corruption and lack of morals in our world. I realize it is up to each of us to stand up for "truth & righteousness" regardless of the treatment we may receive after we do so.

Rachael said...

Awesome story. confrontations like that are so hard - good for you for having the guts to do something about it!

Bunch of Brooks' said...

Ali, I need your email so I can add you to my blog:)

almostgotit said...

THANK YOU. What a favor you did for those children, even though it is never comfortable to step in like that.

And (deep breath) along the same lines: Mother Goose, it's NOT just the "Spanish people" (they likely aren't Spanish at all, but Latino). I see people sneak food for themselves all the time in Fresh Market, and (sadly) very few people who can afford to shop in Fresh Market are Latino.

Jenny said...

Good Job Alice! Way to go! So proud of you! Know what I would have done the same thing.