A Split Second Moral Dilemma

Saturday 1493 – 17th Dec 2011

Todays blog was going to be cheerful and light but then this happened ………..

At about 5.30 or so this evening I popped out to buy milk and The Guardian at my local village store  .  Milk in hand I walked over to the bread/cake area; 2 small aisles that face each other. As I turned the corner I saw 3 youngsters, backs slightly bent, shoulders hunched and I immediately sensed that I’d walked into something . 

Before I’d taken another step the blonde chubby one pushed something inside his green jacket and pulling up the zip halfway he turned and came face to face with me. He wore thick black glasses, had a ruddy complexion and looked terrified. He was probably 13.  The other 2 hurried away but he was caught in the headlights of my stare.

Neither of us wanted this encounter. Both of us knew we shared the same secret. I had a moment to decide. I could do nothing, I could call a member of staff or I could tell him to put it back and go.

It wasn’t really a decision it was a reaction.

My heart thumped as, moving towards him, I quietly but forcefully said – I think you had better put that back and go. 

Moving away from me towards one of the upright freezer cabinets he whispered over and over again – please don’t tell anyone, please, please.

I followed repeating – put it back and go now .

He pulled something from under his jacket and slid open the door of the freezer, put the something in and backed away this time out of the door.  Our eyes were locked together throughout this encounter which probably lasted less than a minute.

It was only after he’d gone that I realised what he was trying to steal; a large packet of about 30 assorted sausage rolls. Was he hungry? Had I stopped him having a meal that night?  Should I have called a member of staff?   The look of real fear in his eyes was what stopped me, I think. Why weren’t they more attentive?  

It’s more likely he was doing it because he could, because he was with a few other lads and it seemed exciting. Have I added to his kudos by allowing him to get away?  Will he be the “big man” now?

Did my action or omission  make me as bad as him?  or did I give him a 2nd chance?  maybe a fright big enough to stop him doing it again? 

Did I prevent a mother, father, maybe brothers and sisters from having their Christmas ruined?

Did I put myself at risk? Could they have been waiting for me outside?

If I see him around the village again will I say anything to him?

Probably yes knowing me…..

Whatever I might think now about what I should have done, in that moment I did what seemed like the right thing to do.

What would you have done?


Ending on a lighter note I thought I’d share a few of the photographs I’ve taken with my new and first ever macro lens which arrived this week. Enjoy..

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Saturday Girl signing off til next week…Christmas Eve and a rather special one it will be… ( though it might be a bit late getting to you all…)


20 comments on “A Split Second Moral Dilemma

  1. teamharman says:

    loving these macros and so jealous these were your first shots with the lens. Having difficulty mastering mine! Adore the water drops photos and aspire to some myself one day 🙂

  2. I don’t know what I would have done. I would like to think that I would do just like what you did. But most likely I wouldn’t even do anything, knowing how I could be apathetic at times (I know, not a good thing).

    Anyway, those macro shots are beautiful!

  3. j3ntan says:

    being the softy I am, I would have probably did what you did, but once I found out about it being a food item- paid for it and tried to find the boy.

  4. hellenjc says:

    Thank you so much for all your comments…keep them coming ! I just want to clarify, because a couple of people have asked me on facebook, that the sausage rolls were already cooked not frozen.. He just put them in the freezer before he left… don’t know why just because it was there.

    The hardest bit was after he was gone as I walked round and round the store for a few minutes with an internal debate about whether I should say something to a member of staff or not. As none of them looked much older than him I decided not to !!

    Thanks too for the comments about the macro lens.. as Lisa has said it creates such intimacy which I love.

  5. I am new here but I will risk a comment just to add to the wealth you have had already. I believe that moral dilemmas like this do not have a set answer. It would depend on the motives and situation of the kid, and maybe other factors you would have no way of knowing. I think you have to rely on a leading of the Spirit, or if you do not believe in the Spirit, then intuition will have to do. The next time you are in a situation like that you might well react differently and for reasons that you can’t possibly know you could be right both times.
    Meanwhile God bless you this Christmas eve and give you peace.

  6. mimo khair says:

    What a great life experience! One would not know how they would react in such a situation until it happens! Thanks for sharing

  7. drawandshoot says:

    Trust your instinct. I think you handled it well.

    Your macros are excellent. I love the flower closeups.

  8. scillagrace says:

    I am an notoriously slow reactor; I want to think too much first, so I probably would have just gaped and not reacted at all in the moment. I’m glad you did what you did and said what you said. Seems like the best response to me, honest and kind and brave.
    God, your macro lens…I would lose myself in the sensuality of it. Can’t wait to buy one for myself!

  9. Tessa says:

    As a youth magistrate I think you did the right thing. You had no time to find out why he was taking them – and the fact that he didn’t stand up to you would suggest that he wasn’t a regular. It is very difficult in future life if you get a criminal record at that age its cuts you out from a very wide range of jobs – though if he was a first time offender, he would have been dealt with by an out of court disposal. However, getting caught by you, probably means he won’t do it again. How many of us have never done anything silly – especially at that age?

  10. I would have done the same thing. If the child looked hungry enough to steal for that reason, then I probably would have offered to pay for it. If the child had not shown complete remorse I might have told the store owner to keep an eye out after the kid left, without providing an accusation necessarily.

  11. ehpem says:

    I would have done the same thing. Though, perhaps, if I had seen what he was taking (and was thinking quickly enough which is not likely), I might have asked him to give them to me, taken them and him to the till, and bought them for him. That way, if he needed them, he would have them, and if not, he would be humiliated that I thought he had to steal which would be a pretty good lesson. He would be humiliated if he needed them too, but he was stealing, so not too big a price to pay for dinner.

  12. bananabatman says:

    Right decision. If he gets caught again, he will probably deserve a different one.

  13. Steve Clark says:

    I think you did exactly the right thing, Helen. It was almost certainly just an impulse theft with some peer-pressure thrown in and you’ve probably scared him out of doing it again for life, If not and he does do it again, and especially if he does it regulary, someone will catch him sometime and he’ll get a sterner warning.

  14. Always follow your instinct. I would of done the same. You never know what people are capable of when the are scared. I love these shots with your new Macro. I think that is going to be my next purchase.

  15. What a tense situation, Helen. I’m not sure what I would do, but I don’t think I would have called in the staff on this. He sounded really scared, and so I would hope that your treatment of him causes him to think twice the next time he tries it. And I do hope this was just a pressure thing from his friends. And not that his family needed it.

    And great macro photos! You are having fun with that lens. I love my macro lens. it’s what I shoot with most of the time! Have fun!

  16. Vipin says:

    I think there is no fixed answer for this. In such situations you have to do whatever spontaneously comes to you hoping that that is the best decision.

  17. totsymae1011 says:

    I probably would’ve responded as you did and asked myself the same questions. I only hope it was mere shenanigans and not stealing for the sake of needing that item for a meal.

    I agree, the photos are splendidly done.

  18. puttyfoot says:

    Helen I dont know what I would have done either, you did what you thought was right and that is all we can do.

    Love the images, you have an intimacy about what you see, love the cone and water drop best 🙂

    Lisa x

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