A Free Ride?

I’m working the late-support shift at work this week, just in case our U.S.-based customers need to phone us with a query (although thankfully the trend seems to be moving towards mostly e-mail based support, meaning I can get on with my role in development rather than support. Not that there’s anything wrong with supporting… I just prefer developing. But I digress…)…

So I went down to a certain little convenience store, which shall remain nameless, on the corner of Broad street and Sheepcote street to grab a sandwich. While I was in there I noticed a scruffy, unshaven man standing in the corner by the drinks refrigerator, scoffing a packet of crisps and holding a pint of milk. He then proceeded to pick up a bottle of Orangina from the refrigerator, another packet of crisps, then moved off to the front of the checkout queue where he met up with another lad of similar description but shorter stature who was devouring a Curly Wurly. I decided to ignore this, thinking they were just getting in the queue to pay for their stuff. A few minutes later, when I got to the back of the checkout queue, I saw these two guys still standing near the front of the queue. The first one i’d seen had finished the first packet of crisps, placed the empty packet on the shelf next to where he was standing, and started his way through the 2nd bag. The other one had finished his first chocolate bar and then started on his second. They then started grumbling aloud about the length of the queue and having to pay (I think… they both had their mouths stuffed while talking), so the little one says something along the lines of “fuck this. let’s go” and they both walk out of the store. Normally there’s a security guard standing by the door (so I assume such petty theivery has occured in the past), however this evening he was absent from his post.

So my question is: should I have done something about it? The two guys were obviously homeless and (probably) penniless. The stuff they took probably amounted to less than £5-worth of goods. But that doesn’t make it alright. There were at least 10 other customers in the store at the same time and several checkout clerks, yet noone else said anything either. Hmm… We Brits have to get over this whole “stiff-upper-lip” thing.

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