What do you call the opposite of shoplifting?

Many years ago,  when I was just a wee lass, I remember my brother getting taken into custody by the police.  It was a dark day for our families good name and a lesson that sent fear into both myself and my other sisters.

His crime?  He had stolen a pencil from the newsagents.  My mum found the pencil and my brother confessed to being a thief.  Quick smart,  he was taken up to the police station where Mum explained to the officers what her son had done.  Without further ado,  he was placed in a holding cell for an hour.

My brother, who was 7 at the time, never stole a thing again.

But this lesson sent shock waves throughout me and my siblings and earned a new feeling of respect and awe for our mother, along with a great dose of terror. She was one who followed through on rules and threats. We were not going to fuck with her anymore.

At least until I was in Year 8 at High School.  I was at a fancy-schmancy boarding school (held there against my will) and some Christian Group were holding a special chapel service to raise money to buy bootlaces for Bolivia, or something like that.  With one fell swoop, I emptied the contents of the offering dish into my pocket,  unbeknown to me under the watchful and evil eye of a Geography Teacher. I obviously just had to purchase a new Jimmy Barnes tape or the latest Incense Body Spray. Anyway,  I was hauled into the Principal’s Office,  my mother was summoned and I earned a week’s suspension for my efforts.

I can still hear the Evil Bitch Troll’s voice as I left her office.

“This is something that you are going to have to live with for the rest of your life…..”

And it is true. I have to live with that for the rest of my life……………………

Anyway, I have managed to be deceitful and devious again without really even knowing about it.

It all started at the end of last year when notes were being bought home from the boys about returning overdue library books. I gathered then up from under various beds and actually found one lodged down the back of the couch. They were dispatched to school.

The next day,  Jack came back with a note explaining that there was still a missing book outstanding.  It was this book

The Romp in the Swamp!  Over the last few weeks of last year and throughout the Christmas holidays,  Jack would remind me and ask “Where is Romp in the Swamp?”  It became an overused and fast running gag in our house.

“Has anyone seen the car keys?”

“They are right next to Romp in the Swamp….”

Then we moved.

Moving gives you the perfect reason to sort, chuck and rediscover things that you had started to begin to only imagine you once owned. It was also the perfect scenario to end the Romp in the Swamp drama. Keeping my eyes peeled why we packed,  there was no Romp in the Swamp ANYWHERE.

Weeks later and Jack was getting all antsy about how he will not be able to borrow from the Library until Romp in the Swamp had been recovered or been paid for. 

The next morning I went to the library at the school all ready to fess up and pay up.  The librarian could not have been nicer. I explained to her that we had recently moved and we had searched high and low for Romp in the Swamp and we simply could not find it.

She looked at me and Jack and said sometimes there were cracks in the system and that quite possibly the book HAD been returned and was roughly hanging out in the reference section or something like that and she cleared our name without further penalty. Which was wonderful. Until this morning. When I discovered Romp in the Swamp in my bottom desk draw…..

So now I am in the awkward position of having to smuggle this book BACK into the library without anyone noticing what I am doing.  I feel ashamed. I feel dirty. Like a common low-life criminal who agreed with the sweet, sweet librarian and blamed their faulty system.

And THAT is something I am going to have to live with for the rest of my life.

Have you ever been taken into custody?
Ever had a brush in with the law?
And should I fess up to the Librarian?