Yeah, never thought I’d be writing that headline.
I am the biggest rule-follower there is. I floss regularly. I wear my seat belt. I remain seated with my seat belt fastened until the captain has turned off the Fasten Seat Belt sign. (Okay, sometimes on that last one.)
And apparently the other week I stole gas from a local convenience store.
It was a Sunday. I’d been to church that morning, as always, followed by a recurring coffee date with friends that I organized. I was still in a skirt and wedges, loudly playing a Christian radio station as I pulled into a gas station, noticing that my tank was getting low.
By low, I mean almost at a quarter-tank. But, you know, still above it, because I’m a rule-follower. I don’t like to take too many chances.
It was the same gas station I’ve been filling up at since the day I turned 16. It’s on the way to everything, it’s never too busy, and, as long as the prices aren’t better anywhere else, I go there almost every single time my tank gets low (or low-ish).
I swiped my card, stuck the nozzle in my tank, lifted the handle, squeezed the trigger, clicked it into place, and started squeegeeing the bugs off my windshield as the pump hummed.
I heard it stop swooshing and click off, but I kept scrubbing my windshield in a highly unsuccessful attempt to scrape the last of the bug residue off. Finally, I declared it as good as it was going to get, I put the squeegee back in its rightful place, and I went to collect my receipt.
Which was, as usual, not there.
About 50% of the time, the machines are out of paper and do not produce the desired receipt. I am antisocial and don’t like walking alllll the way into the store to request one, so I usually just drive off and forget about it.
Which is exactly what I did last Sunday.
I drove home, had a muffin, and had just turned on my laptop when my dad called from upstairs.
There’s a sheriff’s deputy here to see me?
Must’ve heard him wrong.
“There’s a deputy here to see you.”
Okay, funny joke, Dad. Not really that funny, but whatever.
I heard a woman’s voice in the hallway. I knew my cousin was supposed to stop over that afternoon, so I figured it must be her and my dad was being facetious.
I walked upstairs.
To find a female uniformed sheriff’s deputy standing with my parents.
What on earth did I do?!
Oh my gosh, did she catch me going six miles over the speed limit on my way to church this morning?
Ugh, I knew I should have stuck to five. I never go more than that, but I was running late and I thought it would be okay to speed just this once! For church!
Can they even come after you for speeding that many hours later?
“She’s here because you drove off without paying for your gas,” my dad filled in.
“What?” I directed my questioning eyes at the deputy. I was shocked. And horrified.
She actually looked a little amused, probably taking in my genuinely stunned expression, and explained that sometimes the cards just don’t read right and people drive away without knowing it. She handed me the phone number for the gas station and said I could just call them and give them my card number to take care of it.
I called the store and they said they wouldn’t actually accept my card number over the phone.
So back to the car I went.
As I drove off, the friendly deputy was having a friendly chat with the friendly neighbors (who are normally not so friendly).
So glad my neighbors are now aware of my inadvertent criminal activity. 🤦🏼♀️
As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, I then had to shame-facedly return to the scene of the accidental crime, walk inside, and admit that I was the gas-stealer. As he authorized my card, the clerk said it happens more than anyone would know.
Good to know.
I learned two things that day:
I’ve also decided that I’m probably going to need to find a new favorite gas station. Because I’ve already had to show my face at that one once more than I wanted to lately.
Although we all know full well that trouble can and does find even the strictest rule-follower, today reminded me of that fact in a very unpleasant way.
You can make plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.*
Or, you know, justice. The law.
Trouble finds all of us, but thankfully what appears to be disastrous at first glance can often turn out to be just a funny story.
The Day the Girl Who’s Never Even Been Pulled Over Got Tracked Down By a Sheriff’s Deputy for Theft.
Yeah, I’m definitely not there yet.
Give me a few years and we’ll see.