Home Perspectives Advice Can there be a grey area when it comes to stealing?

Can there be a grey area when it comes to stealing?

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Dear Ella,

My latest relationship was going very well, but now I’m having second thoughts. We have been seeing each other on Saturday nights and talking on the phone in between. We decided, instead of going out for our next date, we would cook a meal together. The date started with a grocery shopping trip.

Janice took charge. I pushed the cart, as she proceeded to eat her way through the supermarket. She tasted just about everything that didn’t require a knife for cutting, I was embarrassed and horrified to see her blatantly stealing food. She even took a bag of cookies, opened it and ate as we walked. That was a side of her I had never seen and really didn’t appreciate. I didn’t say anything, but what the heck was that? Am I nuts to think this is inappropriate?

Unaware Accomplice

Dear Unaware Accomplice,

Take a deep breath. Lots of people sample foods before they buy them at the supermarket. Often people will sample a grape before they buy a whole bag.

I’ve seen, and know of, people who will peel and eat a tangerine before buying a whole box, open containers of berries to try them before buying, poke holes in packaged goods to test their freshness, even pick and choose the red Jujubes from a bin that has all colours.

Technically, it is stealing. There are many things that have become almost acceptable and even expected by retailers when it comes to stealing. Things like hotel or spa amenities, pens, sweetener packets or little jams in a restaurant.

You think retailers are not aware and don’t account for that? Does it mean that your new girlfriend is a crook? Grocery stores are in competition. There are campaigns on social media and in flyers offering loss leader specials to get you into their stores. In the 2016 Grocery Retailing Canada report, shoppers specified they want to “try before they buy.” Of course, common sense is a must. Sampling a grape is not the same as ordering something from the deli and devouring it before you hit the checkout, or eating a bag of cookies.

As for Janice, you had the opportunity to talk while you were preparing that dinner. Did you? It’s not too late to tell her your thoughts about what you witnessed. Don’t ignore those reg flags when they arise, but also don’t make sampling at the grocery store a game-changer.

Communication is key. No need to lose your appetite for a possible relationship because of  grocery grazing.


Dear Ella,

I haven’t been able to get this out of my mind. Last Sunday, I was at an unveiling for my friend’s father’s monument.

My father is buried at the same cemetery, so after the service I went to my dad’s grave. I didn’t bring a stone to place on his monument. I searched on the ground and couldn’t find one, so I left a kiss instead. I witnessed a guest from the same unveiling going to visit one of his loved ones. Obviously this guy didn’t have a stone either. He had no problem taking one from the the top of the monument beside and placing it on the one he was visiting. Stealing from the dead? What’s wrong with people?

Are There No Limits?

Dear Are There No Limits?

A stone left on a grave has no monetary  value, but taking it to put on your own loved one’s monument speaks volumes about that person. That was a selfish, uncaring and egotistical act. On one hand, this person had the sensitivity to visit the grave of a loved one. On the other hand, he steals a stone from someone else’s grave?

Putting a stone on top of a monument shows that someone still cares, that someone came to visit and left a symbol that they were there. Taking the stone off another grave is degrading to the dead person he is visiting.

I have to give you points for keeping your cool. I’m not sure I would have been that magnanimous.