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In Defense of Just a Little Shoplifting

Katie Wesolek


Call me crazy, but in my understanding of our capitalist economic system, flawed though it may be, workers are paid wages for their labor. 


And yet!  Every time I go to the grocery store, I seem to be conscripted into service as a cashier, and an unpaid one at that.  


Perhaps you can relate?  Have you ever popped into the store on your way home from work for, seriously, just two things?  You just need a half gallon of milk to tide you over until the weekend, and some cilantro for tonight's dinner.  That's it.  You'll be in and out in under five minutes. 


Oh, and that cereal you like is on sale, can't pass up a deal.  Also, grab a bottle of wine - you deserve a treat.  You know how this goes.  Two items turn into thirteen, and before you know it, you're scooting the basket down the aisles with your feet because it's too heavy to carry.  You, in your fit of grocery shopping hubris, believed you had the self-control to transcend the need for a cart, and now here you are.  You did this.   


And so you drag your basket laden with impulse purchases and regrets to the front of the store, only to find that not a single one of the baker’s dozen of full-service checkout aisles is open.  Not a cashier in sight, as if they have all been raptured up to the special heaven reserved for undercompensated customer service workers.  You turn your head and notice that all your fellow shoppers have flocked to the corral of self-checkout machines, where one bored teenaged employee is sexting with her boyfriend and ignoring the firefly swarm of flickering ‘assistance needed’ lights. 


You now have two choices.  Three, really.  1) Admit defeat – abandon your basket and walk out of the store empty-handed.  2) Seize the day – walk right out the door with your head, and your basket, held high, shoplifting so brazenly that not even the security guard will notice (lol forever at that, if they aren’t even paying cashiers, you bet they’re not paying a retired cop to stand at the exit with a taser). 


But let’s suppose you really need that milk, and all the other shiny crap you scooped into your basket like a greedy little crow.  And yet you’re not morally bankrupt enough to steal all of it.  Luckily for you, there is a third way.  Call it restorative justice.  Call it Robin Hooding.  Call it whatever helps you sleep at night, but I call it Just a Little Shoplifting.   


Whatever you think you should have been paid for the time you spent doing somebody else’s job, reclaim your time.  It’s not a precise formula.  Hourly wages vary.  Just pick an item that makes you feel adequately compensated and then...just don’t scan it.  Scan a heavy item and place it in the bagging area along with your Informal Paycheck.  For the love of god, place the item in the bagging area. 


If you enjoyed today’s moot, follow Katie on Instagram and check out her website. If you are feeling generous, consider giving to Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle TN, Katie’s charity of choice.

*For each moot, we generate a cover image using  DALL·E, an AI art platform that generates images using natural language processing. This image on the right was generated using the title, 'In Defense of Just a Little Shoplifting' in the style of Hieronymus Bosch, Katie's artist of choice.*

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DALL·E 2022-11-22 20.45.05 - painting of the garden of earthly delights in a grocery store

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