Me, I'm a Thief*

Pint glasses.

Salt and pepper shakers.

Beer pitchers.

Shot glasses.

Cutlery.

Coffee mugs.

Cloth napkins.

Those coloured jars, like molten glass, filled with wax, that set the atmosphere at a dimly lit table. I carried them out with me; sometimes, while they were still lit and glowing.

I carried all of these things out of the pubs and restaurants that I frequented in my early 20s: mostly on or near university campuses.

A lot of them, in Kingston or the Byward Market.

I did it for the fun of it, just to see if I could get away with it. The small stuff was easy; the bigger stuff took skill. If I could throw a jacket over it, I could make like I was just carrying the jacket in my hands, that I would put it on once I was outside.

I swiped two burning candles, stuffed one down each coat sleeve, and made a hasty retreat. Either the coat would snuff out the flame or would catch fire: that was the thrill of it.

There was only one time when I got caught, was unsuccessful in my thievery. I was visiting some friends in Kingston: it was a Friday night and we had done some heavy drinking. As the pub was clearing out, I got up and grabbed my long coat, which had been draped over the back of the chair.

I lifted my coat—and the chair—and made my way to the door. As I traversed the bar area, no one gave me a second look. My friends led the way, me following closely behind them, my coat seemingly dragging on the floor.

As we reached the door, the bouncer held it for us, bid us a good night. I got all the way through the door and had stepped out on the sidewalk, just on the outer side of the threshold, when I felt some resistance.

The bouncer was hanging onto my coat. Or, rather, he was hanging onto the seat of the chair, through my coat.

"We'll be needing that," he said in a gentle but persuasive tone. He could have got angry, he could have hauled me back into the bar and called the police. But he was fair. He knew I'd be no trouble.

"So that's what was weighing my coat down," I chuckled, sheepishly, "I thought my coat got wet but, no, there's a chair stuck to it." I set the chair down gently and lifted my coat off it. "Too much to drink to notice." Another chuckle.

"Yeah, that must be it," the doorman said, lifting the chair and setting it inside. "You get home safely." And never show your face here again, his eyes told me.

I used to be a thief that way, when I was young and foolish. I still have some of those items today, to remind me of my reckless youth, to show me that, should one of my kids get crazy in their 20s, that I was like that once.

Also, the salt and pepper shakers are great for camping.

And I still use the shot glasses: I make a mean Manhattan with them.


* Stealing is bad. You shouldn't do it.

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