Crime or Criminal
The mouth was all distorted making it impossible to speak. It was looking like a crime had been committed. All questions to the suspect remained unanswered. The godfather was engaged in deep discussion unaware of what had happened. Everywhere he went there were people anxious to talk and he was generous with his time.
The incident did not happen on the public streets, we were inside a business premises and temptation was all around. This situation needed careful handling. It looked like a first time offence. If the matter was ignored; would it lead to the culprit feeling that it was a sign to try again? What to do….?
I decided to see if I could deal with the matter quietly and asked:
“What have you in your mouth”? The only reply was in the form of a negative shake of the head. Trying again I asked: “What are you eating”? This time the jaw moved a fraction but still no sound came. It was interesting to watch. The more the culprit tried to hold the mouth immobile the more it needed to chew and swallow saliva. Moving closer I could smell the chocolate with more than a hint of caramel! The evidence was enormous and must have filled the central cavity of the culprit’s mouth.
The game was up! So I asked outright: “Did you steal a sweet?” There was a hint of a nod as the eyes dropped and the chin sunk down to chest level.
We were in Woolworths. The store had three entrances that opened onto different streets. We often walked through the shop as a short cut to one of the other streets. Entering from Anne Street you are immediately in the confectionery department and it is some wild temptation for an adult never mind a child to see those island pick & mix counters stacked high with numerous sections of brightly coloured wrappers and sweets. Today this young lady had succumbed.
Taking a different angle, I asked if she had paid for the sweet or just helped herself to it. She knew full well the routine of scooping the sweets of choice into those special paper bags before carrying the selection to the till for weighing and paying. I asked to see her pocket money and she produced a bundle of coins from her pocket.
“I am sure that BIG sweet must cost 2p” I said. “Now put the rest of your money back in your pocket, and you can go and pay for it.” Letting that message sink in I had another idea. 💡
“Do you see that man talking to your daddy, he is the manager in this shop, so I think you should pay him the two pence!”
Walking over to the two men I caught Jack’s eye and winked, the other gentleman caught the wink too. They stopped speaking and turned towards us. “I hear you are the manager in this shop now” I say winking again,before adding “This young lady has some to give you!”
The hot little hand proffered the two pence piece, to her little eyes it must have looked enormous, it is in fact the size of a two Euro coin. Standing behind her I was mouthing to the man to ‘Take it. Please take it! Eventually he took the coin and asked why she wanted him to have it. Once over the fear of facing the ‘Manager’ a contrite Elly confessed all to him. He thanked her for telling him and adding that he was sure she would never do such a thing again.
As we parted company the gentleman shook my hand and I left the store with a two pence piece in my palm. Later in the week it found its way back into Elly’s purse.
A hard lesson some might say, but Elly held tightly to her dad’s hand from that point on until we returned to the car. She never asked once that day if she could buy sweets, but we did take her to buy a new book!