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My Mom told me not to steal, and I listened to her

How many boards are in my cart?

When I pushed my red cart to the check out lane, I told the salesman to call Dave in Lumber. I assumed Dave wanted to tell the cashier he had cut two sheets of 4×8 plywood for me, the customer.

“Dave said to call him in lumber, and I had two extra cuts.”

Each extra cut is 25 cents.

The woman at the check-out line at the Hardware store looked at my cart and then told the cashier in training, “You don’t have to call Dave. She has one board, and three cuts.”

The cashier in training looked through his booklet for the bar code for the plywood. He rang up one board. I could see the price on his computer screen.

12246 3/8″x4’x8′ RATED SHEATHIN  1 @ 17.77

The board I had cut was 8 feet by four feet. Each piece was 18 and a quarter inches. There were 10 boards in my red cart. The math didn’t add up.

In the span of one second. My brain had a little conversation with the two people who live in my head. My good nature versus my evil nature.

She can’t do math very well. Look at all the boards in your cart. Wow, you could walk out the door with two boards and only pay for one.”

“That would be dishonest. That would be stealing.”

“It wouldn’t be stealing. The manager is just stupid. She didn’t call Dave in Lumber. It is her own fault. And think how many Lattes’s you could buy at Starbucks. It would be like free money. You stopped drinking coffee to save money and keep you teeth from turning brown. Don’t tell her! Drink coffee! Brown teeth are pretty, they will match your hair. Do it! Do it!”

“Shut up. My mom told me not to steal. I will tell the truth.”

“I had two boards cut.”

He adjusted the price and I paid for two boards.


When I wrote this story, I looked on-line for quotes about stealing. Trying to find a quote from a famous person to stick in my story. And then I remembered when I took the money my mom gave me to pay the piano teacher, and I bought candy instead.

I don’t need a quote from a famous person, I can quote my mom.

I just called my mom in Canada. I woke her up. She had already walked 10,000 steps in her condo building, and was taking a nap.

“Hey mom, I need a quote about stealing for my story.”

If you’re thinking about stealing, think how you would feel if someone stole from you. And God is watching.
Berdeane Bodley – my beautiful mother with the long neck

I would feel terrible if someone stole from me, and I know that God can see whatever I do.

Mother’s do know best.

Besides, I don’t drink coffee anymore.




About Pamela Hodges

My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • nancy bouwens

    similar conversation in my head recently. Moms (almost) always know best! Another reminder to live what we say and say what we live. Thanks Pam- love this story and the telling of it!


    Nancy Bouwens

    • Thank you Nancy.
      And, what exactly was your mother saying to you in your head? Or, how naughty were you going to be?

  • Christa Sterken

    Being honest is hard work, but always worth it. Did you ever, when your kids were tiny, get to loading the car after shopping and find something small in your kids carseat? What a hassle to live in the desert, have to leave groceries in the car, load your carseat and baby back out and take a toothbrush back in. Always feels RIGHT to be honest though, and I am thankful for it. My mom would insist on giving back a dime extra if the change is wrong at a store. That lesson stuck with me. The kicker is, how Annoyed the cashiers can look when you bring back in the items or change. They don’t usually care or want to be inconvenienced in my experience, which strikes me as odd…indicitive of their own attitudes about honesty (it’s “just” the stores money/merchandise) Whether thankful or not, God sees us and we please Him.

    • Christa Sterken

      I did steal a lipstick once from a five and dime when I was a kid. It felt horrible, but the other kids were doing it. I knew it was wrong and I have always remembered the lesson. Had my mother known you better believe we’d have marched back in to the store

    • pamelahodges

      Oh my, yes. That happened to me too. The kids are in the car seat and then you find something in the cart they didn’t ring up. My biggest fear is having someone run after me yelling, “Thief. When really I was just a distracted mother.

  • Robn Patrick

    Good for you! The times I have that conversation in my head is when I get to the car and there’s something in the bottom of my cart that the cashier didn’t notice and so I didn’t pay for it. grrr. Not only am I ticked that said cashier missed it but now I have to make a decision. Do I go back and pay for it? Do I just toss it in with the paid for items and head home? Or, third option, take the cart back to them and let them put it back on the shelf? About 25 years ago I found one of those unnoticed items hiding at the bottom of my cart. I toss the unnoticed item in my car and took off. It was probably a dollar item but that one dollar stayed on my conscience for, well, until now. I was in a hurry and figured their mistake not mine.
    It was wrong. I knew that then and I know it now. There have been a few times through the years that this has happened, and now, I just haul the card back in side and tell them they missed my item. No, I’m not going to wait until I get checked out again but I feel good about having brought it back.
    p.s. I think I would like your mom.

    • Good job for putting it back. Sometimes the walk back into the store feels like 24 miles on a day when you are busy and tired.
      P.S. I think my mom would like you.

  • Great story, I am with you on that. I’m not sure why but I have had dozens of experiences where someone gave me too much change, or forgot to charge me, maybe I am being tested. My conscious won’t allow me to stay quiet. Better to have a clear conscious than a fat bank account.

    • Yes, much better to have a clean conscious than a fat back account.

  • LOVED it and your humor. How honoring for your mom as well. I once made my little brother Steve take a pen back that he stole. He never forgot that story.

    • Thank you Anne. I can imagine that Steve wouldn’t forget. You were a good sister.

      • Pamela,

        You know, I felt like I was a good sister. Till things got too hard and I couldn’t handle my dad’s accusations. Then I left home and always felt guilty. I spoke about it with George and Steve. They said they never blamed me. They didn’t need to. I blamed me. Not sure I ever forgave myself for that.

        • Anne,
          It is so much easier to be kind to others than it is to be kind to ourselves. It is always okay to take care of yourself. If you look in a mirror you will see someone beautiful, God made her. He forgave the woman you see in the mirror. If God who makes mountains and rivers and people in a week can forgive you. Will you not believe him and forgive yourself.
          Hugs to you, dear friend.
          ( Now I am going to go in my bathroom and smile at the reflection I see. Then I am going to forgive myself. I feel guilty too for my past mistakes. Times up. I can have 30 more seconds to feel bad, and then I am all done. It’s time to believe the truths in the Bible.)