WWYD: What We Did

In this installment of “WWYD,” a couple accidentally walks out of the store with an item they didn’t pay for and thinks about this column:

My fiance and I got a cat over the weekend. We went to a Petco in the middle of our city to buy supplies. It’s in a mini-shopping center with a small parking lot, but still crammed. This store has street entry but is located underground, so you have to go down stairs or take the elevator if you use a cart, and it’s kind of cramped and narrow (compared to what you’d find in the suburbs).

Seeing that this was our first pet, it was a whirlwind of “I have no idea what I’m doing” debates about food and litter and carriers while trying to avoid other people and their pets as we navigated our cart. We finally paid, got all the way outside and started loading our car when I realized that I’d forgotten about the giant, heavy tub of litter on the cart’s bottom rack.

I looked at my fiance. He looked at me. “Did we pay for this?” I asked.

“Probably not.”

And because he is a better (and less lazy) person than me, I knew what the answer to the next question would be before I asked: “Are we going to go back in and pay?”

Even though it would be a pain to lug the heavy thing all the way back down the stairs, to the register, and wait in line again (we still had to go get the cat itself, and I could see the weary resignation on his face) his answer was: “Of course.”

So we did. The woman at the cash register seemed pretty surprised, and thanked us for our honesty. What was it—10 extra minutes maybe? That’s why I love him. All the while, I was thinking about the WWYD column. I have to admit that if he hadn’t been with me, there was a good chance I’d have loaded the car and driven off. Not to avoid the cost, but just the perceived slight hassle. — J.

(Thanks for thinking of us, J.! And yes, I would have lugged that thing back in and paid for it as well.)

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19 Comments / Post A Comment

sockhopbop (#764)

What good citizens! I have to admit that I probably wouldn’t have gone back if I was flying solo. And that is why no one will never throw me an ethics pizza party.

@sockhopbop Ethics pizza is gross anyway. Nobody should eat that much vegan cheese in one go.

sockhopbop (#764)

@stuffisthings True! And the mushrooms on top are always sooo self-satisfied.

BananaPeel (#1,555)

Something similar happened to me once. But because while I am honest, I am also lazy, I just called the store, told them what I walked out with, and gave them my credit card over the phone.

Quinn A@twitter (#1,008)

@BananaPeel Yeah, I think it would have been easier to just go in and ask them to scan one that was already in the store. That’s what I did the time I walked out with cat litter I hadn’t been charged for.

hollygl (#3,294)

This is the Petco in Cleveland Park! I only know that because it’s literally the worst place in the world to buy cat litter, something I learned very quickly.

meatcat (#81)

@hollygl That’s the Petco I guessed it would be as well. What a terrible place! I couldn’t imagine how soul-sucking it must be as an employee.

Who else was hoping the “item” was going to turn out to be the cat? Just me?

Also we did this once at Whole Foods (with an item on the bottom rack of the cart) and even though we were still at the register when we noticed, the cashier comped us the item. I felt bad for about 0.3 seconds until I remembered the price of everything we actually paid for.

sox (#246)

@stuffisthings I did this once at Whole Foods with bag of freaking Organixx cat food and I have to say that I debated whether that was a lucky break or my own negligence. (it was the latter and I did go back in and pay for it.)

I would absolutely not care about this at all. Unless it was a small business, then yes. But large company? Nope. A little research always leads me to a justification of just taking their money and running: http://www.peta.org/b/thepetafiles/archive/tags/PETCO/default.aspx

@Jake Reinhardt Not that Peta is the best to judge ethics on… This doesn’t justify anything. It’s still illegal to steal from anyone, not to mention immoral.

@Leah Klein@facebook Morality is completely subjective, and differs from person to person. Illegal I’ll give you.

However, personally, I don’t think anyone that walks away with the stupid kitty litter is any less moral than those who return it.

@Leah Klein@facebook also, can I just say that I get a lot of lolz when people bring morality into things, as if it’s black and white for EVERYONE OH MY GOD. Like, please-many religious people things it’s IMMORAL to be gay. You think it’s IMMORAL to steal from petco. I think it’s IMMORAL to shop at walmart. All these ‘moral’ issues have in common is that the only person who gives a crap is that specific person and their like-minded acquaintances.

lizard (#2,615)

@Jake Reinhardt so you think stealing is ok? what if i went into a rich persons house and took only one of their 3 tvs? i wouldnt have to go to jail?

@lizard i mean, again, that’s a question of legality rather than morality? it’s indisputably illegal to steal things, idk about whether you’d get sent to jail in this particular hypothetical instance. whether or not it’s moral is genuinely subjective, although we, collectively, as citizens of humanity, generally subscribe to societal mores that align us all along the same axis of morality, by which, no, it’s not okay to steal just one of a rich dude’s three tvs.

lemonadefish (#3,296)

My sister used to work at Target. Once she was shopping at Target with my mother, who accidentally shoplifted something in the bottom of the cart – when she realized it in the parking lot, she wanted to go back in to pay for it, but my sister begged her not to, because the cashier would have gotten in a lot of trouble for not noticing the item. Does that help make things more murky for anyone?

sox (#246)

@lemonadefish Yes, especially someone who is as cashier at large department store like that. I mean, what do they make per hour??? And they are willingly working a job where they likely take all kinds of heat from customers. Urrrrgh. I hate thinking someone would get in trouble for something like that! But I suppose it doesn’t surprise me.

@lemonadefish Hah! I actually used to work at a Target and we had a system for this, where the security guy would come over and ask “Have you seen Bob?” while you were ringing the person out if he thought you hadn’t noticed something in the bottom of the cart. Bob is an acronym for “Bottom Of Basket.”

That said, we wouldn’t have been punished or anything, maybe just be reminded to always check. It wasn’t the worst place to be an employee and paid better than other retail jobs I held.

AitchBee (#3,001)

I was checking out once at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and at the last second decided I didn’t neeeeeed a set of pillowcases (which I of course still waaaaaanted). The cashier didn’t ring them up, but was starting to put them in a bag when I reflexively corrected her. I still kick myself for it. So, yes, I am the opposite of this story.

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