When I was five years old, my sisters and I would walk to the store, with our mother. We’d do the shopping then eye the candy at the check-out. Since we were good little girls, we never asked for any.
One afternoon my sister and I walked to the store, to shop for our mother. We picked up the things on the list and waited patiently at the check-out. While the cashier was ringing she spotted us spying the candies. She asked if we’d like to have one. We thought for a second, which I’m sure seemed an eternity, before answering “Thank you, yes!” in unison. She handed us each one.
We ran and skipped on the way home. We gave our mother the things we’d gotten and decided to do a dance for her, which was common place in our home. While we were dancing around (Ch Ch Ch. Ch Ch Ch. Ch Ch Ch.) our mother asked us to stop, then to start again. This went on a few times. Ch Ch Ch. Ch Ch Ch. Ch Ch Ch, stop. Ch Ch Ch. Ch Ch Ch. Ch Ch Ch, stop. “What’s that noise?”, she asked. “Tic Tacs, the cashier gave us”, we smiled.
We got the third degree, were told it was stealing since we hadn't paid for them and made to return them to the store. Any of our defenses were ignored. Even if they’d been free, we should have refused, as we were not allowed to eat candy, or take things without permission.
Did we really think they were free? Did we subconsciously assume the cashier had the authority to override what we were taught? Or, did we assume our mother would allow it?