My younger sister opened her purse and I held my breath. Until this moment, I had unconsciously hoped this was just a mistake. That the managers would realize they had chosen the wrong people. It wasn’t real, it didn’t feel like that anyway. Until my sister consented.
One, two, three, four, five items came out from her purse.
“I meant to put them back, I didn’t meant to take them,” she explained in a calm voice. “Can we go now? I want to go now.” They politely told her that she wasn’t allowed to leave and that our parents would have to come a pick her up. Then they took out a pen and a notepad, they read inventory of what she had stolen and transcribed it.
My sister slowly became hysterical, and when they asked for our parent’s phone number, she refused to tell them. I was frustrated and terrified that this would rope me into something bad as well. I was looking at colleges; I couldn’t afford to have even a drop of ink on my record.
With haste, I explained how our mother was out of town and that they should call our father. When I gave them the number, the red-haired man typed it into his phone. They called my father and then explained the situation to me because my sister was weeping too hard to listen.
They had footage of her putting the merchandise into her purse after she purchased an item. No, the police would not be involved in the case. She was a minor and had not stolen any items over fifty dollars. No, I was not involved in this situation as far as they had seen. Hallelujah. Yes, she was going to be banned from entering the store again, unless with a parent. If she did, she would be arrested for trespassing. When she turned eighteen, she could write a letter to petition the company to allow her back into the store.
I didn’t know what to do, I felt many levels of guilt. I had worried about how this would affect me before anything, and the shame made me want to cry. I had brought her to the store, and been her temperary guardian. My parents had trusted me to bring her home safely. Obviously I had failed in that. I had never even considered my sister would do something like this. I didn’t judge her for her decision, but I was disappointed in her and even more so, myself.
From this experience, I learned that bad things happened in the world, and happened right in front of my eyes, in fact. If the managers had not followed us into the lot, I would have obliviously driven away. I didn’t even have a clue that something illegal and wrong happened right before me. I will never make that mistake again.