Like Any Addiction, It Never Fully Goes Away
What do you feel when you see mugshots of petty thieves? Is it pity? Contempt? A sudden realization that bad facial hair and crime might be connected somehow?
In Zack’s case, he mainly feels, well, compassion. “You may call it survivor’s guilt? I tend to watch a lot of crime dramas, and I’m always rooting for the bad guys. … I obviously don’t relate to rapists and murderers, but when I see mugshots of people that hold up 7-Elevens, I think, ‘Those poor idiots. … If I had been there, we wouldn’t have our mugshots on TV.'”
Twenty bucks and a 99 cent hot dog is not worth five to 10.
See, deep down, Zack just has this strong desire to reach out to other criminals … and help them steal without getting caught. “When I was a hiring manager for my current employer, my sympathy for these criminals extended to job applicants. I hired no less than five convicted criminals to work at my store. … Each time it’s bitten me in the ass. Being a thief makes it incredibly easy to catch thieves, which in turn makes me look good for catching them while stealing.”
You probably noticed Zack referenced being a thief in the present tense there. Managing his theft urges is kind of like a recovering alcoholic trying to stay dry — it’s a continuing effort that involves things like keeping himself out of situations where temptation might occur. For example, he was recently promoted to a management position at his new job, far away from the cash. “Now I work on the corporate side of things. Truth be told, it’s an honest struggle not stealing.”
What would you even do with all those logo pens and cubicle walls?
You might think the higher salary would also make it unnecessary, but again, it was never about the money. It’s about whatever weird little dopamine high his brain gets from the act. These days, he just has to satisfy it in small, less risky ways. “I try really hard not to let this compulsion complicate other aspects of my life, but it’s there all the time. … I recently bought a lot of food for a barbecue and went through self-checkout. Obviously I’m doing my best not to steal, but when I have a choice between a really cheap produce item and the expensive ones that I purchased, I may select the button on the screen that gives me the better price (I absolutely do this).”
Zack is a recovering thief who loves his fiancee enough to try harder. Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a Cracked columnist, interviewer, and editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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