This is how to steal a panini

This is how to steal a panini

Tonight is ChicagoNow’s Evening Blogapalooz-Hour! Our challenge, if we choose to accept it, is to publish a post in one hour. Here is our prompt:
“Since rules are made to be broken, write about rules you routinely break or want to break”

I am a little rule follower, since way back. It’s not because I like and respect rules so much as that I was raised a preacher’s daughter, and I was supposed to be the model for everyone else.

And, then, there was the problem of being caught. I swear, if a person can get caught breaking the tiniest of rules, then I’m your woman.

If I park in a two-hour zone, I’ll get a ticket for overstaying by five minutes.

I’ve gotten a speeding ticket for driving four measly miles over the limit. That was in a 55-mile-per-hour-zone. The person riding shotgun said, “Well, you were speeding.” He came very close to walking the rest of the way.

So, I don’t drink and drive, not even 1/2 a glass of wine with dinner. I buckle my seatbelt when I move the car from the driveway to the street so my husband can get his car out. I floss.

Consequently, when I do break rules, I don’t do it very well. This is how I (almost) stole some jam in a hotel one time.

My mentor in graduate school told me that she always gathered the unopened miniature jam jars from used room service trays when she stayed in hotels. She took them back to her grandchildren as gifts. Her reasoning was that they’d been paid for. Not by her, but we won’t quibble.

I was at a conference once and saw a room service tray outside of a door. I swear it looked used and done. There were two mini jars and I snapped them up. As I walked away, the door opened and a guy’s voice said, “Give them back.”

I panicked. And then, I ran. I saw the stairwell and ran up a the single flight of stairs where I had to exit.

The guy was waiting outside the door holding his hand out. He was a kitchen worker assembling the tray and he wanted his jam back. I really can’t describe how mortified I felt. I would have turned myself into the police if he’d asked me to.

This is not the way to steal jam jars. If you want to steal them, make sure you’re not taking them from the trays right outside the room service door. And, don’t run if you’re busted. It just makes you a thief and a coward.

However, f you want to steal something, a panini or two or four, for instance, this is how you do it.

My daughter and I were at our local Starbucks, which is directly across from a bus stop. It was about half full. One of the off-duty baristas was sitting at our table chatting with us. There was a line of three or four folks waiting to order, so it was busy.

A guy walked in wearing one of those orange vests that construction workers wear when they’re working on the roads. He cut through the line, but only to get a closer look at what they had in the cooler.

He looked at the panini to see what kind they were and picked up about four of them. And he walked out the door and onto a bus, which left just moments after he got on.

We just sat there watching him. He was confident, visible, and smart. He was also choosy. He sorted through those panini to find the right kind.

The barista sitting with us alerted the on-duty staff, but none of them had noticed and the bus left with their thief on board. I was gobsmacked. I just couldn’t quite process what I’d seen.

In fact, I was also a little impressed. The sheer aplomb. He had style. He had a plan and he executed it.

I could never pull off a panini heist like that, but, then, I don’t really want to.

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Filed under: Personal Essays

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