Thursday, August 14, 2008

What message are you sending?

So, I'm walking into the little cafe in my building in downtown Los Angeles. You know the cafe....they are in most highrises on the Terrace or Ground level and people get their lunch, breakfast and snacks there. Just ahead of me entering the cafe is a young black kid about 11 with his mother and younger brother standing outside. He's carrying his lunch box and appears dressed for day camp or something. I follow him in and he walks up to the condiment area and grabs a bunch of packets of Ketchup and Mayo. Just before he turns to walk out the owner of the place says, "what are you doing?".

At this point I'm standing there a little surprised by the audacity of the whole thing but yet mildly amused as I know how this is going to play out. The kid says, "I need some ketchup for my lunch.", the owner says, "so you're just going to take it?". The kids says, "um, may I please have some ketchup packets?". This almost made me giggle. So, stealing is ok if you ask nicely?

You can see the progression of this story and the outcome was expected. The mother yelled from the door, "Well, (huff and puff) I'm never going to buy lunch here again." and stormed away. The owner told me that she never buys lunch and that last week they snuck in and stole some ketchup before he could come out of the kitchen. Do you think that the kid learned that what he was doing was wrong? Yeah, I doubt it too. When you're being reinforced from your parents that stealing is ok and you should be upset when you don't get what you feel you're entitled to, then that is sending the wrong message.

No comments: