My father was a plumber and electrical repairman as well as a general DIY repairman. He taught me many valuable lessons.
My parents were very strict on ethics. The theft was not made. Period. My mother took us to church where we learned the Golden Rule (as Shakespeare wrote it): do to others. Today I wouldn’t think of stealing from anyone. As I was walking out of the line at the grocery store the other day, I noticed the cashier forgot to charge me for a box of tea and I just couldn’t live with myself if I did. left so. I had to bring it to his attention and pay for it. I blame (or thank) my parents for this.
Another life lesson my parents instilled in my upbringing was the work ethic. You don’t work, you don’t eat. Simple. It’s a good way to live. If we all lived like this it would be a lovely world. With that in mind, I always loved the story my father told about the stolen coke. (He called it pop.)
“Don’t steal this book for fear of shame
Because on it is the name of the owners
And when you die the Lord will say
Where is the book you stole
And when you say you don’t know
The Lord will say to come down below.
– LM Montgomery, Emily of the New Moon
I’ll try to do his story justice by adding the emphasis and inflection that he used to tell the story. He was a boy from southern Indiana, born and raised. His family accent was such that when he brought my California mom home to meet his parents, they said she was kind enough, but why couldn’t he have chosen an American to marry.
As an explanation, my father said that there is a difference between a dog and a doage. A dog is one of those little varmints that sits on your lap and is useless. A doage is a hunting animal that would follow you around the woods for quite a while.
When you do nothing special, you have been kicked out with your doage. Or as dad would say, “out kickin ‘doage.” I just didn’t want anyone to think he actually kicked their dog.
My siblings and I got so used to this saying that we didn’t think about it and used it often. One day a friend called me and asked me what I was doing. I replied that I was just outside “kickin ‘dog”. My friend was dismayed and exclaimed, “YOU KUMP YOUR POOR DOG? It’s laughable to think that’s what she was thinking because the term just meant that I wasn’t doing anything in particular.
The water tank behind the gas station was a low round tank with walls about 3 feet high and 5 to 6 feet in diameter. It was used to see if there was a leak in the inner tube of a tire. These were the days.
“Most people, in my opinion, steal a lot of who they are. If they didn’t, what articles they would be mediocre. “
– Julian Barnes, England, England
The stolen Coke
One hot summer day my best mate and I were outside when my boyfriend told me about where we could get some free pop. We had a gas station in town and he used to put a few soft drink bottles back into the water tank to keep them cool. If you were quick you could walk past the water tank, reach out and grab a bottle, then head to the woods in the back.
Weyell, my mate and I thought it sounded good, we tried it out and lately if it wasn’t working very well. We jumped up and shared the guzzlin ‘down. After several days home from school we did this and we were happy with ourselves.
A few days later we were outside again and decided it was warm enough for a pop. We strolled past the gas pumps at the back where the tank was. Ah came in and grabbed the bottle and we trotted off towards the woods. Ah jumped that high up and took a giant sip and handed it to my boyfriend. After I took a sip and started throwing up and spraying this black liquid all over the place, I also threw up a mouthful. Ah tasted this motor oil first, but I’m not going to give up until my boyfriend gets a big dose. This gas station owner learned he was missing soft drink bottles, so he filled a bottle of motor oil. This will teach us about looting.
When I was six, my daily commute to the school bus stop took me past a convenience store. It was a mom and pop type store back then, not the big chain stores you see today. The owner knew all the locals and their children. Every day I walked past these candy stalls and they talked to me. “Come eat me. There is a lot. No one will miss a single one. Finally the day came when I just couldn’t resist stopping and thinking about the idea that no one would miss a single one. I carried my clear plastic rain tablecloth in a clear plastic bag with handles. I figured I could slip it in my bag and no one would be the wiser. However, my first step across the line in the flight was not too wise. I had to sit there thinking long enough for the owner to notice me. Before I could leave, he stopped me and asked to see my bag. I lifted him up to look at it from the front but he wanted to see the back. And there as clear as the day was the candy bar I had slipped into the transparent plastic bag. He gave me a very effective “disappointed daddy” look and told me that if I put it back on and didn’t do it again, he wouldn’t call my mom.
That day, at the age of six, a life of theft was averted. I didn’t like feeling tight in the pit of my stomach getting caught. I recognized that I wasn’t smart enough or stealthy enough to hide the candy between the layers of my rain sheet and I knew I wasn’t good at flying. Finally, I never wanted my mother to find out about my indiscretion. She would have killed me.
“The little thief is imprisoned but the big thief becomes a feudal lord.”
– Zhuangzi, the complete work of Chuang Tzu
Have you ever stolen something? Have you been caught? Do you regret it? I would love to read your thoughts and stories in the comments below.
Rosina S Khan March 01, 2021:
I loved your father’s story about the “Stolen Coke”. We were not allowed to go to shops alone from a young age until we were adults for safety reasons. So, I don’t think my siblings and I have ever had the chance to fly. But in addition, we would not dare. Like your family, my family instilled good values in us.
Eric Caunca from Laguna, Philippines on March 01, 2021:
I am intrigued by “The Stolen Coke”. I don’t know why this is funny to me. 🙂
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on March 01, 2021:
Abby slutsky America on March 01, 2021:
I never stole anything, but I remember going to a five and ten store with some teenage friends. Guess we were looking for makeup or some other stolen item. When we left a store, an employee followed us and asked us to empty our pockets. No one had taken anything and the employee apologized before we left. FW Woolworth’s has been bankrupt for a long time, but neither of us have ever shopped there. On the other side, I pursued theft for four years while practicing law. Thanks for sharing your story.
MG Singh emge from Singapore on March 01, 2021:
It’s a beautiful story that must have brought back the nostalgia. I have never stolen anything in my life, so this is an experience that I have never had.
DW Davis from eastern North Carolina on March 01, 2021:
“Kicking the doage”, is a new one by me. I loved the story of the stolen Coke.
Pamela Oglesby by Sunny Florida on March 01, 2021:
I really enjoy reading your father’s stories. I was raised the same way you were in OH.
Family values are so important. I had a girlfriend who stole things and she tried to steal me too. I stole a packet of chewing gum, think twice but felt so guilty that I didn’t.
This is a very interesting article, Denise.
Dora Weithers of the Caribbean on March 01, 2021:
I love your family and your family values. Congratulations to your parents for their teaching, and to you and your siblings for your obedience. I have an inherent fear of being trapped, so my conscience supports my decision not to steal.
#Stories #father #told #stolen #coke