I was so appalled today by a news story that I read the whole thing, and if I read it properly, Safeway is in for a shit-storm. Apparently, a family decided to relocate to Hawaii - who wouldn't - and went shopping for groceries with their little girl. Mom was pregnant and they got lost on the way. So far, so good - how you get lost on the way to the store, I do not know, but I assume that Hawaii is overgrown with tropical trees and vines and there are snakes everywhere, so I give them a pass. I would probably wander around lost and staring upward at the untrustworthy trees myself, but then again, I am a pusscake and fear all things nature.
The family of three and a half made it to the store without incident, but Mom was famished and a little weak from the tiresome hike, what with being pregnant and all the inherent dangers of the walk. So, Mom and Dad grabbed a couple of sandwiches at the Safeway and ate them as they shopped. I assumed that they shared some with their daughter. The story did not say so, but it would be rather prickish not to, even if you were with-child and famished. At the end of their shopping expedition, they paid for $50 worth of groceries and proceeded to leave. Buuuut, they neglected to pay for the sandwiches and here's where things went south.
The family was stopped outside the store and accused of stealing the sandwiches. Fair enough, however, it's not like it was some shady homeless guy who had stuffed a handful of bloomers down the front of his pants, paid for a Slim Jim and split, in search of the nearest Mickey's Big Mouth - this was a family, toting along not only their youngster, but one in the oven. The family, supposedly realizing their error, offered to pay for the sandwiches. I'm sure there was a discussion on the food's deliciousness and how grateful the shoppers were that they were available to keep Mama from collapsing in distress, but the management and security team at Safeway would have none of it. They hauled the family up to the office, called the police and had the pair of adults arrested and their child taken away to protective custody.
WHAT THE FUCK?
How does something like this even happen? Granted, the $10 might have added an additional twenty percent to the purchase's bottom line, but I am nearly certain that the time and money wasted on this bad publicity, karma, and judgement will far outweigh the profits on the deli-meats. If I were King, I would have probably stopped the family on their way out, mentioned the sandwiches and then after they had offered to pay for the food, would haved shooed them on their way and voided the price of the goods at the customer service desk so my inventory would be in line. Or, I might have let them pay for the goods, if I didn't like the looks of them. Either way, I probably would not have called the authorities - not even in Hawaii. It just doesn't seem to be the right thing to do.
I understand that there are laws and laws need to be upheld. However, there is the letter of the law and the common sense that weaves its meandering way through our lives. We need to find a nice median on which to base our decisions. I say the same thing when I watch sports. Or attend a parent/teacher conference.
It is important that we are stewards of our communities and work in a diligent fashion to uphold the laws and bylaws that are the glue that keeps us safe, sane and relatively trouble free, but at the same time, we need to allow compassion and common sense to throw their two-bits into the pot. I hope the couple sues Safeway and I hope they win, so that this incident acts as a warning for all who do not think before they act. It may be that the facts have not been completely disclosed and this was a case of a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde having their way with the sandwiches of Hawaii, in which case I will eat crow (preferably grilled and served on a toasted sourdough with some spicy mustard and bitter greens), but until that time, I will continue to carry the torch for the pregnant and the famished.