The decision lighted in his head as soon as the slap of store manager’s right hand hit him hard on his left cheek. That was definitely the greatest of all slaps he had received. His mother slapped him many times for not studying hard enough but those slaps were half filled with love.
But THAT SLAP!
That slap was totally something he hadn’t prepared himself for. He thought that his smooth plan of sneaking out the store this time with a box of chocolates in his bag would not alarm up anyone. After all, he stole couple of bars earlier from the same store and luckily, the manager and cashier didn’t noticed him stealing their stuff, right under their nose.
But sneaking out of the store with a full box of chocolates was something different. Before he stepped inside the store that evening, he recalled the stories his new friends told him about. Stories about how they got away with so much, without ever being noticed or captured. He got impressed and told his new friends that he will do the same. One of them advised him to start with small objects first. It was a success for him couple of times, so he decided to take the big step then.
He entered the store just like he was there to buy something. He looked at the cashier who was busy with customers while the manager was busy on phone inside his room. He looked around before placing his bag on the floor. It was already opened and all he had to do was to sit down, grab the box, hide it in the bag and leave. According to his calculations, this wouldn’t take more than 5 seconds.
He was right! He finished up his task in less than 5 seconds. As soon as chocolate box was in his bag, he quickly made his way towards the exit. The security guard was standing today instead of sitting and that rang an alarm inside him. But he kept on walking, as if that exit door was about to be close forever.
The door did closed on him when he was just one step away from it and he felt the heavy hand of security guard on his left shoulder. The guard grabbed his bag and asked him what’s inside. He then realized that his so-called fool proof plan is now failed and there is no where to run. But instead of admitting defeat, he decided to lie. Something he must have learnt from his new friends. He replied to guard that there is nothing the bag, except for his school books.
The guard put up a big smile on his face and dragged him to the manager’s room. Upon pushing him in the corner, the manager stood up and asked the guard: “Is it him?”
The guard replied: “Yes, that’s him!”
The manager then walked towards him and grabbed him up by his shirt. After all he was a big muscular man in his 30’s while he was just 12.
The manager raised his voice and asked: “Did you stole from my store?”
He replied: “No, I didn’t”
The manager didn’t liked the answer: “You are lying!! I know you are stealing from me and I know how to treat scums like you.”
The manager then grabbed his bag and opened it up. The very first thing he pulled out from it was obviously the chocolate box he just stole few moments ago. The manager turned towards him and slapped on his face so hard, he felt that entire sky had fallen upon him.
The manager once again pushed against the wall and yelled right across his face: “What is this, you scumbag? Is this something you bought from home? Kids like you need a lesson, a very big lesson. Right now I’m feeling to put a bullet in your head! Do you understand that?”
The manager wasn’t lying unlike the kid. The kid got scared to death as he knew the security guard had a gun and manager will not hesitate in pulling it right over his head. All those new friends of his and the stories of their successful attempts had vanished at that very moment, as if they didn’t even took place.
The kid said in near fainted voice: “Sir, please forgive me! I’m so sorry for doing this. I promise that I will not steal anything ever again. Please forgive me sir, please!!”
The manager asked: “Where do you live? Do your parents know that you are stealing?”
The kid replied: “No sir, they don’t know about this. Please don’t tell them about this. Please let me go sir!”
The manager: “I will not let you go that easily. You need some treatment for this disease. Is this your school bag?”
The kid: “Yes sir, this is my school bag.”
The manager: “Very good then. I’m keeping it with me. You want it back? Show up tomorrow with your father and you can have your school bag.”
Although the kid’s left cheek was still numb from the slap he received few moments ago, his mind was back on the track. He immediately realized that he can’t let anyone at his home know about this incident at all otherwise he will be more sorry than ever before. He then crafted another lie in his mind and replied: “Sir, I can’t bring up my father with me. I live very far from here and can’t come so often.”
But manager didn’t got convinced: “Come with your father tomorrow and I will hand over your bag back to you. Now get out of my store.”
The security guard grabbed the kid and almost tossed him out of the exit. The kid was still shaken from the experience walked back home quietly, with his mind running like a wheel. His home wasn’t far from the store and he had to come up with some great excuses about returning home without his school bag. Luckily for him, his parents didn’t questioned much about his school bag when he returned home as they were busy with some guests.
The kid didn’t talked much to anyone after returning home and stayed quite. He didn’t even slept comfortably.
The very next morning, the kid ran back to the store and begged the manager to hand over him his bag. By then, the manager’s anger was gone and he handed the kid’s bag to him with a clear warning about not to steal again. The kid had learned his lesson and he promised the manager that he will not steal anything ever again.
The kid stayed up to his promise but he didn’t told anyone, not even his parents, about the one childhood incident of his life when he received the slap of his life for stealing a box of chocolates from a store.
Not until now, almost 26 years later!!
Looking back now, that kid is so much grateful for receiving that one slap on his face. As it had definitely saved from stepping into the dark side.
Based on a true story. Written for The Daily Post’s Road Less Traveled