The first time I fell in love I was 15 years old, and it was the worst experience of my life.
It’s funny to think back to those days, though. As I sit here, all of the most exhausted clichés rush through my brain, but the funny thing is, if I were right back there at that very moment right now, I probably would’ve done the same damned thing. It’s embarrassing.
I did a lot of stupid things as a kid. They say you should live life without regrets, but if you are an adult without regrets, I would argue you haven’t really tried a whole lot of things. I have definitely done things that I wouldn’t do again if I had the choice. Did those dastardly deeds help craft me in to the person that I am today? Sure they did. If you’re not learning from your mistakes, you’re just going to make newer and bigger ones. I’d love to share some of these experiences, and I started this blog as an experiment to sort of attempt to “open up” about my life, my past, and some of my more buried thoughts on things, but at the same time, I’m a little bit afraid to do that. Maybe I just need to ease in to it. Start small. The fire hose will come with time.
When I was in high school I started stealing things. In retrospect, I think it might’ve been good old fashioned boredom. My efforts were focused on a department store in my home town of Weaverville, NC, where I was employed. There were other places, but this was the only place where I got caught.
Okay, lets back up for a second. I didn’t actually get caught in the act. Moreover, a security audit team was doing a sweep of the staff under the assumption that there was probably theft happening in the store. After all, a bunch of other high school kids worked at this particular place. They held employee interviews in a locked room under the threat of video surveillance, and someone, to save their own skin, rolled over on me.
I ignored the first rule of breaking the law: don’t talk about breaking the law.
That was a very scary couple of days as the interviews happened one after the next. I knew mine was coming as I went through my workday stricken with guilt. Then it was my turn. So there I was, stomach in knots, sitting in that little locked room. “We know you’ve been stealing merchandise. One of your friends told us. We have video of you doing it. You have to tell us everything you stole or we’re going to prosecute you.” They even went so far as to say, “if what you tell us doesn’t match the footage exactly, we’re going to prosecute you.”
Oh Danny, you naive, stupid boy. Looking back at myself, I scream, “Deny everything! They have no proof. It’s good old fashioned scare tactic and hearsay.” I caved, though. I wrote down everything. Actually, it was worse. I wrote down what I could remember, and then I was escorted around the store to visually recall everything I took (since there were some things I couldn’t recall).
What a terrible day. Walking around that store with a cart full of stolen merchandise. The grand total was somewhere around $850 of CDs, video games, toys, clothes, stupid this’s and that’s that I got no real joy out of, truth be told. Worse than the bill was the disappointment in the faces of my managers and parents. Yes, I had to call my parents to get picked up at the end of the whole ordeal. Yes I was crying. They didn’t have to tell me I was fired. It just went without saying. I spent the following summer paying it off, working at the local grocery store, bagging groceries.
Nobody likes you when you’re 16 (and I don’t blame them).
As I write this, I’m sitting here with a smile on my face, though. Would I do that again? Definitely not. Do I regret it? Yes. Yes I do. I regret the whole terrible ordeal. I feel sorry for the whole experience. What an idiot.
Still, lessons were learned. Character is forged in the darkest of places. It always bothers me when people say, “If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.” There are lots of things I would’ve changed. There are lots of stupid things I wouldn’t have done (though to be fair, there are lots and lots of stupid things that I would’ve done again). Some experiences you do grow from, but that doesn’t mean that your life wouldn’t have been better had it never happened in the first place.
It felt good to share that. Thanks.