Having something stolen from you has to be one of the most invasive and unsettling feelings I have ever known. It doesn’t feel good to know that someone would come into your personal space and take something that you worked hard to pay for.
I was walking across the field at an event one year when I saw a man putting together a pretty blue cabana. It looked just like the ones my husband and I had just purchased from LL Bean and I wanted to see how much this guy liked his.
Me: Hi! I was noticing your cabana! My husband and I just bought two of these in the same color. How do you like yours?
The Guy: I really like! It provides some shade on these open fields when you really need it.
Me: I love them! We brought ours today, but haven’t needed to put them up yet.
That afternoon as we were packing up our gear, my husband couldn’t find the two blue bags that our cabanas were packed in. We both looked everywhere for them. We had put them inside of the common tent area where other festival volunteers had also stored their things because this was a safe place with volunteers keeping an eye on everyone’s things as they worked the grounds.
Almost everyone had left to go home and we were still searching for our new cabanas when someone found my husband and told him there was a guy in the parking lot that wanted to ask him something.
The guy I had approached on the field with the new blue cabana opened his trunk to show my husband the pretty blue cabana bag and asked him if it belonged to him. He claimed he found two of the cabanas “just laying around” in the common tent and they didn’t appear to belong to anyone. He said he had “even put one together out on the field” so that other festival goers could see it and come over to claim it, if it belonged to them, and that no one did. So he took the one he had put together and gave the other one to his friend. His friend had already left to travel back home to New York, with our new blue LL Bean cabana in the trunk of his car.
He took something, that obviously did NOT belong to him. When he put it together on the field, why would he assume that anyone would think it wasn’t his to put together? Even though he knew this item obviously belonged to someone else, he still took it off the field and put it in his car and then shared the extra one with his friend!! Who does that?!
He should thank his lucky stars I wasn’t standing there with him and my husband when he told this great big huge lie because I might have punched him right in the face.
My husband, not knowing that I had approached the guy and asked about the blue cabana, or that I had thanked him for sharing our sense of good equipment, took the cabana from him and thanked him for watching out for it. He said he would get the other one back from the guy’s friend the following weekend at the next festival.
These days whenever I know this guy is going to be on the same venue I always make sure to keep an eye on our belongings. He thinks it’s a funny story though and tries to make everyone think it was an “honest mistake”. It was a mistake, but there was nothing honest about it. Since that day every time word got back to me that someone’s gear was stolen from a festival venue where he was a participant, I always suspected that he probably had something to do with it. I bet I’m right too.
Before that day I did not know this guy at all and after that day I made no further effort to know him, even though for many years he has remained a constant presence in an activity we enjoy. Unlike him, I do not see any humor in what he did and UNTIL TODAY, I have never shared my side of this story with anyone beyond the two people that were there with us when it happened and with my husband. I have kept this story to myself for almost 20 years.
What is much worse than being robbed by someone you don’t know, is being robbed by someone you do know and trust.
I have collected vintage bowling shirts for my husband for as long as I can remember. He has a really nice collection now and each one holds some special memory for me, as well as being a hard to come by fashion item. One of our long time friends came to visit us and was short on something dressy to wear out to dinner one night, so my husband loaned him one of his favorite bowling shirts to wear.
I have a few personal ethics when it comes to house guests. They have their own room and their own bathroom and I do not enter those areas while they are visiting. If I ever have to enter their room to get something of my own out of the closet, I will ask them for permission first. It’s a matter of personal privacy and personal space and I want guests to feel more at home, than like guests and their space is their space. No exceptions.
I was busy doing laundry and making breakfast on the morning this particular guest was packing to be taken to the airport. He was still upstairs getting ready and as I was passing through the den, I noticed the unmistakable shirt tail of the bowling shirt my husband had loaned him, sticking out of the un-zippered side of his backpack.
Rather than reaching down to tug it free, I waited until he came downstairs and I politely asked if he could fetch the shirt for me so I could add it to my laundry. He looked up, smiled and replied “Oh! I already gave that to you this morning!” I knew he hadn’t, but wanting to give him the benefit of doubt, I continued with my morning chores, nodded and smiled back. I just knew when he reached down to zipper his backpack he would see the shirt and bring it to me.
Then I watched from the kitchen as he pulled his backpack onto his lap, noticed the shirt tail sticking out and quickly shoved it out of sight, arranged stuff on top of the shirt so you couldn’t see it anymore and closed his pack up. He didn’t know I could see him.
I was devastated.
He went back upstairs to make one last sweep of the area he had occupied and against my own ethics, I opened his pack, pulled out the shirt, closed the pack and walked to the washer, throwing it in. I still wanted to believe that this was just an honest mistake on his part, but rather than wait for him to come clean, I decided that if he truly believed he had given the shirt to me, then the fact that it was gone from his pack wouldn’t matter.
I was wrong again.
He came downstairs carrying a charger cord he had forgotten and once again pulled his pack onto his lap to pack it inside. Again I watched from the kitchen as he frantically began to dig around in his pack, obviously looking for something that was no longer there. He sat for a moment, probably trying to deduce how the shirt he had so carefully hidden, was now suddenly gone.
Finally it was time for him to leave and when I hugged him, I knew this was the last time I would ever invite him to stay in my home. He meant to steal that shirt. I know that without a single doubt. And I am certain that he knew that I knew what he had done.
I have had people I thought were my friends steal from me before. I have even had to sit across the lunch table from a woman that stole one of my favorite necklaces, as she boldly wore it and dared me to say anything to her about it. She had boasted to mutual friends that one night during a party at my house, she had plundered my jewelry box and had taken whatever pleased her. There wasn’t anything I could do about it, or knew that I could do about it, because I couldn’t prove that the jewelry was mine, or that she had taken it.
People that steal things are truly heinous individuals, but friends that steal from you are even worse.
When a friend steals from you the best thing you can do for them and for yourself is to just end the friendship. To accuse them is just asking for a fight because if they aren’t above stealing from their friends, they aren’t above lying about it either and they almost never come clean and give it back to you.
A friend that steals really isn’t a friend at all.