“Dad, can we talk?”
“Sure, Rick. What’s up?”
“Something happened after football practice today. I don’t know how to handle it.”
“Tell me about it.”
“A bunch of us stopped at the convenience store by the school and bought some snacks. A couple of the guys hid part of what they took and didn’t pay for it.”
“Right. They didn’t take much, but they did steal. Do I need to report them to somebody?’
“What do you think?’
“Well…what they did was wrong, but if I report them to the school or the coach or the store-owner, there is going to be a big deal over something that seems small.”
“The store-owner won’t think it is small, especially if it happens over and over again. He puts in a lot of work planning, ordering, stocking, keeping the store neat and clean. He deserves to get paid for that, and his profit is what pays him.”
“But if I tell on them, they may get into big trouble. We are team-mates, and they may never trust me. If I don’t tell, I am almost as bad as they are, going along with it.”
“What if you didn’t name the players, but gave the store-owner some money to cover what was taken?”
“I don’t think I should have to pay for what they did.”
“How about calling him anonymously?”
“He probably has caller ID. It seems a bit cowardly, too.”
“You’d like a way to help him prevent theft, without getting your friends in trouble, right?”
“Yes. I could talk to him and tell him what is happening, but refuse to name the thieves.”
“That would help. What do you think of the kids who do this?”
“I will trust them less in the future, myself.”
A few days later, I stopped by the store and talked with the owner, apologizing for what had been done, alerting him to the problem. I said I did not want to identify the thieves, and he said he understood.
If their crime had been more serious, I think I would have named names. Though they remained my teammates, I felt a little less friendly toward them. I certainly would not want to leave my wallet where they could get at it unobserved.
One of a series of middle-grade and young-adult short stories by these authors.