Hot Weather and Petty Theft and the Perfect Piece of Fruit- it’s all a matter of perspective



Not a fan of hot weather.

Maybe it stems from my days in Texas. I remember heat radiating off the pavement like a shimmering curtain. Between 12 and 2 o’clock no one played in their yards. No one rode their bikes down the sidewalk. No one sat on their porch.

No one except me. I liked having the neighborhood to myself.

It was during these empty afternoons that I usually managed to get myself in trouble by

  • trying to fry eggs on the hot-to-the-touch  sidewalk.
  • melting crayons into the cement to make a new design.
  • Almost getting arrested at the corner store.

Let me explain my brief encounter with the long arm of the law.

It was one of the hottest days of the summer. When the heat forced me inside I stumbled over to the fridge and opened the door. On one of the lower shelves I spied a perfectly shaped orange. It had to be one of the finest specimens of citrus in the entire town.

But, how could I be sure?

After shoving the orange down a cardboard tube to keep it safe I mounted my bike. Then, I pedaled to the store with the tube resting across the handlebars. And, headed to the corner store. 

Outside the store, I dropped my bike. I laid down the tube with the orange in it and ran inside.

Through the chilled glass of the cooler I saw rows of glistening grapes, shiny apples and meaty bananas greeted me. I opened the door and examined the oranges to see if they were as good as mine.

Then, I left.

”What did you steal from the cooler?” someone asked me as I picked up my cardboard tube.

I turned around.

It the teenager girl who had been sitting behind the counter inside the store.  She picked up my cardboard tube and shook it until my orange rolled out.

“Call the police,” the girl said to the teenage boy who had walked out with her, “We got a shoplifter.”

Suddenly, I saw myself sprawled on a narrow bed frame against a cement walls, a dingy toilet by my side. I started to cry. My tears swelled into yelping sobs.

“It’s her first time,” the teenage boy said, “We could, like, warn her or something.”

“Next time,” the girl said as she gave me a shove, “jail.”

The girl took my orange and walked away.

I jumped on my bike and rode home.

After slipping up to my room, I threw myself on my bed. The sheets felt as smooth as a pat of butter. The worn bed frame creaked with the welcome of an old friend.

I could care less about playing outside any more. I just wanted to be safe. Nothing else mattered.