Weekend Kitchen Chat

Welcome to another weekend of Kitchen Chat.

What is the moral of stealing food?


I witnessed a young boy, probably 8-10 years old, stealing some nuts at a local supermarket the other day. I was not sure what I should do. I was browsing the fruit and vegetable section when I saw a young boy in a dark blue light jacket. He stood in front of a row of nuts section. Not sure what you call this section. But I am sure you know what I mean. This section offers a range of healthy nuts like almond, hazelnut, walnut, brazil nut to the less healthy nuts like peanut and cashew nut. They are stored in plastic see-through container with a front lid. The lid on some that does not stay open and annoyingly flip shut before you can even make the first scoop.

This young boy was standing in front of the nuts section. He looks a bit dazed. At first I did not pay much attention to him. I mean we often stand in front of a produce. Look at it for a few seconds to even a minute or two, wondering if we should or we should not buy the item. And, if we do – what are we going to do with it.

So I ignored the young boy like any “mind your own business” sensible shopper will do. Just look away. Nothing unusual. I continue to look for what I wanted to buy to cook for the weekend. After walking around several fruit and vegetable aisles – up and down each row, turned around and walked to the next row and started all over again – up and down the aisle, browsed each section. Without making any conscious decision, my eyes met the young boy again. Still standing in front of the row of nuts section. This time, after 5 minutes, he was a few feet from where he was before.

Then, I noticed a young girl about his age, in a school uniform, standing not far from me. She was looking at the boy, same as me. I looked back at the boy and saw his quick hand lifted one of the container’s lid and with his second hand, picked a handful of nuts and put into his jacket’s pocket. I was like a stunned mullet. Not sure what I should do. I looked at the young girl again, wondering if they were together. That she may be his accomplice on a lookout for anyone who may interfere with the young boy’s little nuts shopping adventure.

I was wrong. I saw the young girl walked towards her mother, who was busy shopping and pushing the trolley. I could not hear what she was telling her mother. But, I could almost guess that she was telling her mother about the young boy stealing some nuts. Because I could see her pointing towards the young boy, and her mother looked towards the same direction. From the mother’s body language, she said something to her daughter with one of her hand and first finger pointed upwards, then with a gentle motion, moved her finger  from right to left, and left to right. I don’t read lips, but I could almost tell that her mother told her daughter to ignore the boy and mind her own business. They both walked away.

I was still standing at the same spot, trying to make some sense of what I saw and what I should do. Then a colleague of mine happened to walk towards me. We exchanged a little friendly, the usual gesture of meaningless greetings. I knew that was my only opportunity to bounce off him on what I have just witnessed. So I asked what I should do. He told me to ignore it. Pretend nothing happened. Walked away.

And, that was what I did. Walked away. Am I right? What would you do?

A. Confront the young boy. Tell him what he did was wrong. Give him some money so he can pay at the cashier.

B. Report the young boy to one of the staff or manager. So he can be punished and hopefully learn from his mistake.

C. Ignore the young boy. This thing happens. Walk away and pretend nothing happens.

Well, I chose C after bouncing off the idea with a passing-by colleague. I still think about the young boy. He looks scrubby, thin and hungry. He obviously does not have the money to buy the nuts and resort to stealing. Do I regret choosing C? I don’t know. On one mind – I am telling myself that is the best – pretend it does not happen. On another mind  – I am telling myself I should have done something, but what?

13 responses to “Weekend Kitchen Chat

  1. Hi Victor, nice question, here’s what I’d do:

    I’d say something to him quietly like, ‘you know its not right to take those without paying for them, better put them back before you get into trouble’.

    Having an adult say this to him without causing a stir might just be enough of a lesson for him to realise that what he is doing is obviously wrong.
    Who knows, at home he may not have the right role models to help shape the conventional values that we all (generally) share.

    You might just be doing him a favour?

  2. What a predicament Victor. Such a hard, spur-of-the-moment decision to have to make. I can see benefits in each of the 3 choices. Yes, it would be a sound decision to speak directly with the boy and express your opinion about what he did. Maybe give him money if you felt that was a valid and justified thing to do.
    Reporting him to management would also probably be horrible for him at the moment but maybe might make him see the error of his ways down the track.
    Ignoring what he did is the wimpy way but easier all round.
    It really all hinges (to my mind) on the boy’s character and personality – which none of us could go near to guessing at.
    Option A would work if the boy was the type of person who really was doing it as an act of desperation and hunger. Option B would work if he had a background of solid moral upbringing.

    The bottom line is that you obviously didn’t take the witnessing of this episode at all lightly – and that actually says way more about you than anything the boy did. You have just proven you are the solid citizen and worthy human being we all aspire to, for writing such a post on your blog. I am proud to know you.

  3. Steve – I realise that is what I should have done. But, didn’t. I really don’t know why. I may have in a bit make a difference in his life if I had gone up to him. Or, it may not. Life is a twist and a single change in moment may change a person’s life entirely, or may not.

    Rita – thanks. I wish I have presented option A to my “passing by” colleague. He may have advise me differently and I would have done the “right” thing (presumably that is the right thing).

  4. BTW Victor – most of the young people where I work appear “scrubby, thin and hungry” but I don’t for one second think they are suffering in any way at all (hunger-wise). They average $10 per day on food spending (I know, as I conducted a survey a few weeks ago). They must have way more disposable income than me because there is no way I spend that amount on lunch per day. I take mine!
    On the issue of the mother and what she told her daughter to do (or not do), she possibly advised her child accurately. I won’t write about this in a public forum but happy to elaborate in person.
    I too think I would have taken Option C, all things considered.
    Did this happen in town or in Cygnet? I think that makes a huge difference.

    • It happened in New Town main supermarket. And, on a Thursday. I was thinking – it is quite possible this may not be first time the boy did it. He seems to know what he was doing. So, by talking to him and giving him some money – will that make a difference?

      Oh, and may I add. A couple of weeks ago (in the same supermarket), there was a school boy queuing behind me at the counter. He was holding a single plum. Yes, one plum. Only one plum. Rather than a can of coke or a bag of chips. I let him go before me. And, he paid the girl in coins – 80 cents, and refused to take the change!

      Two different boys, two different behaviours on their own in a supermarket for some food.

  5. Steve Cumper, you can’t tell the little boy to put them back! Can you imagine how grubby the inside of an 8-year-old boy’s pocket would be. Eewww.

    • Maggie – what about his hand? Using his hand to pick those nuts, rather than using the scoop. I don’t think I will ever buy non pre-packed nuts again. Thinking what other hands may have gone through the nuts. Not like fruits or vegetables which can be washed and cleaned, before putting in your mouth.

  6. Well, this is my first participation in this blog and, in my oppinion, this boy should be punished anyway… He’s too young to be in a wrong path so… We cannot silence in front a situation like that. The only way to get a society free of “bad boys” is participating directly in everything that can influence in human behavior avoiding damages for everyone. Resuming, my point of view is that’s extremely necessary our participation in society development to get what we hope from the future. To finish, I would like to congratulate for recipes and dishes. God bless you all. Happy easter!

    P.S.: Oh yes, sorry for my bad english 🙂

    • Marcos – thanks and welcome. No problem with your English. I understand what you have said perfectly well. And, thanks for your wise word and contribution.

      Happy Easter to you too.

  7. Oh Victor,
    I’ve been trawling through all your old posts looking for a roti recipe I thought you posted long ago, and read this. My first (unedited) thought was “It’s nuts – good choice kid.” However, if you had described the same situation in front of one of those lolly bins, I’m sure I would be thinking citizen’s arrest.

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