I stole from the self-serve check-out and I'll never do it again

Gillian Wolski
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
Thinking about stealing from the self-serve check-out? Read this first. Photo: Getty Images.

We’ve all been tempted to steal something while using the self-serve check-outs at supermarkets, right? Everybody does, don’t they?

Well, whether you’re a shoplifting virgin or a regular four-finger-discounter, I have a warning tale that’ll make you think twice.

The set-up

It was the summer of 2019 and the basil plant in my garden was going nuts. It was actually two plants side-by-side that had shot up to waist height and were positively groaning with bright green, juicy pesto-ready leaves.

And - you guessed it - pesto was what I was going to make so off I went to pick up some supplies at my local supermarket. I won’t name it to protect my identity - but let’s just say it rhymes with Boolies.

Once there, I grabbed my pesto ingredients: pine nuts and a wedge of Grana Padano, which is kind of like Parmesan but not as well known. Grana Padano is Parmesan’s less famous cousin, if you will. At roughly eight bucks a block, though, it’s just as expensive.

I proceeded to the self-serve check-out and scanned the nuts. The machine beeped its approval. I placed my item in the bagging area. It was all going swimmingly.

Pesto. Yum! Photo: Getty Images.

The crime

Next up was the Grana Padano. I scanned. No beep. I scanned twice. Thrice. No flippin’ beep.

I inspected the barcode and discovered that the vacuum-sealed packaging was so tightly vacuumed that the barcode had been left wrinkled, like a lumpy bedsheet.

Not to worry, I thought, I’ll just smooth it out. Except I couldn’t. The plastic was gripping to that cheese like nobody’s business. It wouldn’t budge.

Defeated, I weighed up my options. Call over the slightly frazzled self-serve check-out attendant and endure the rigmarole of typing in the barcode by hand - or, worse, have to schlep back to the deli and get another block.

Not today, thank you, I said to myself. I’ve places to go (e.g. home) and things to do (e.g. make pesto.) So I did something that I’ve never done before. I shoplifted.

After checking I wasn’t being watched (I wasn’t, it was peak hour) I paid for the pine nuts then stealthily slipped the Grana Padano into my green bag.

I scampered away from the scene of the crime, trying to look cool and calm. But no heavy hand landed on my shoulder. I was off home scot free!

Little did I know that my punishment was coming.

My basil plant had gone to seed. Photo: Getty Images.

The punishment

Surprise, surprise, but I didn’t get cracking with my pesto-making straight away. I got lazy. Days passed, a week, maybe. Then one day I looked out my window and had the shock of my life. My once-thriving basil plant was dead.

The leaves were brown and withered, crumbling like ash in my hand. I’m not a horticulturist but it looked like it had decided to grow seeds on the top of the stem. To me, that meant my basil had officially reached the end of its lifespan and given up the ghost.

You might think this unhappy event was a simply a coincidence, but I disagree. It was Mother Nature herself giving me a right telling off for my spontaneous shoplifting spree.

Killing my basil - and ruining my plans for pesto - was the ultimate rap on the knuckles and I’ll never forget it. Karma, as they say, is a b... well, you know what I mean.

I’ve been serving my basil-less sentence for many months now, and hope that by the time summer rolls around again Mother Nature/the Universe/God will have forgiven my sins.

I’ll know I’m in the clear when a baby basil seedling pokes its head out of the soil, so I check my garden every day. And I certainly make sure I pay for everything at Boolies.

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