Bullshit Technician – Anonymous

I’m full of shit. This is a confessional, but you can’t trust anything in it because I am a liar. You know I’m a liar because I’m also a thief, and lying is one of the three rules of the shoplifter. You might know them already, but here’s the set for the ignorant:


1. They will lie to you about anything.
2. They believe their own lies.
3. If you catch them in the act, they’ve already gotten away with it.

Once the ethical line of theft is shattered there is no going back. If a thief says they’ve stopped stealing, they’re lying. They always lie, and they always have a story about how it wasn’t their fault. The reason why shoplifters get furious with you when they’re caught is because they know something you don’t: they have done nothing wrong. In fact, they didn’t do anything at all. No thief is guilty. They’ve learned things about innocence that people who haven’t stolen will never understand.

Retail is the garden of Paradise. All you have to do is reach out and pluck the fruit of knowledge, and you become human. You learn to be human in the act of theft; that you were born from dirt. To pay for merchandise is to eat dirt. Stupid drooling babe. God is watching you. His messengers are plainclothes. The eye of the pyramid is a pinhole camera and when it spies you tucking wisdom into your pocket you bear witness to your own nakedness. Button your pocket and shift the silhouette of the object to hide your shame. I am pornography. They watch me fucking them, over and over.

It doesn’t matter how clever you think you are. God is watching you. Everything you do is in His mind, on mainframe. The Garden of Retail is One. All of His angels see what He sees. There is a massive database shared by all retailers that you are now a part of. His connective consciousness.

Loss prevention calls shoplifting a game played between thief and enforcer, but it’s not a game: no proper game has only losers and no way to win. It’s education.

Stealing is not fun. It’s work. It teaches me that I’m going to die. I do it every day, I have done it for years, and I will keep doing it. Take on camera and the clock starts ticking. They will catch you. Wages of sin, death.

Full of shit.

My girlfriend has a problem with her brain. She can’t leave the house. She can’t touch objects that are unclean. Every obsessive-compulsive is their own book of Leviticus. The rules are ordained by God, and He rewrites them when He deems it fit. When the laws are broken she screams at me, breaks down, sobs, hides in her room. God is punishing her. Every night she prays to God, for fifteen minutes, that I’ll make it home alive. She wishes death on her enemies, who are all Outside, then takes the wish back out loud for fear of divine retribution. I am frequently the object of her rage. She has never struck me.

Every night I must bring home sacrifices to God: six rolls paper towels ($6.99), four soft toothbrushes ($7.99), 100 nitrile gloves ($15.99), “clean” food ($30), bottle rubbing alcohol ($3.99), box kleenex ($2.39) double pack floss ($6.99), antibacterial wipes ($2.50 on sale), “clean” water ($5.00), caffeine to offset her anxiety medication ($6), face cleanser ($8.99), “clean” fruit ($6-7), toilet paper that doesn’t fray ($2.50), dessert for her depression ($5.99), and weed ($6-27). There is more. This is an incomplete list. Many of these I must bring home every day. God is watching.

I’m at work. My job is to dispense drugs. I am a licensed technician. A woman is telling me on the phone that this is the last time she will ever order her autoimmune medicine ($768 out of pocket) through us. I forgot to order it because I was helping a man who got stuck with a needle at an addiction recovery center get HIV medication ($3790 out of pocket) covered for $0 before he’s infected with the virus forever. I tell her it’s the supplier, the supplier didn’t send it. She swears she’ll never pick up from us again. We’re both lying. Next month she’s screaming at me to have it delivered again. We bullshit each other to save time. I slip a can of Bang ($3.29) into my pocket on my way out of the back room to soothe my throat. It gets me cranked up for whatever crisis is waiting for me at home.

As soon as God sees you steal a timer starts ticking down to the trespass. Every nibble of that apple is known to Him. As you learn, you walk towards trespass. You become better and better at stealing, yet the better you get at it the more and more likely you are to be caught. Every store has a grace period. Each time you take you spoil a measure of that grace until they catch you and trespass you, and you are done with that store. The gates are sealed and you must find another one.

Being trespassed is a Memento Mori. You are exiled and can never return. In essence you are dead to them. What you take with you on your way out is yours to keep in the afterlife. A shoplifter is holy. Loss prevention can never touch you. God forbids it. You may only be scorned, then let go.

It’s my girlfriend’s birthday. We’re sitting in the main room eating strawberries (stolen), drinking champagne ($79.99), sitting on fresh towels (stolen) to cover the sin sullying our chairs (donated), about to eat a dinner I made of teriyaki chicken (sauce and chicken stolen, vegetables $4.56). My girlfriend flosses (stolen) a lump of strawberry out from between her bridgework ($3900, never paid) and giggles. She’s smashed. I’m buzzed. She reaches out one finger and I take it. She moves my hand to her arm. Then she moves it to her bra ($129) helmline. She’s curled up in a ball. She moves my hand to her breast. I’m wired like I’m methed up, harder than the rock that caged Christ. I stroke her breast. “Is the refrigerator closed?” She whispers. I say yes, it is. A minute later she says “thank you.” Moves my hand away. “Too scary.” Later, by myself in the shower, I’m thinking of the texture of her skin. I feel alive. I bust harder than I ever have during sex. Ever in my life.

I’m outside under the hot sun, parking lot, flanked by three children. At least 15 years younger than I am. They’re telling me to empty my pockets. My path is blocked. They can’t touch me, and I can’t touch them. I’m vibrating, ecstatic. They call this “burning the shoplifter.” Always been fond of the term. They’re trying to get back as much lost merchandise as they can. I say nothing. They scream at me to give it back. I take the bottles of ice tea ($8.18) out of my coat and hand them over, along with a tub of sorbet ($7.99). I show them the inside of my bag: wipes and some bottled water. “I bought that,” I say, “and that too.” The girl nods. “He paid for that,” she says, and they nod. We’re in agreement: we all nod. I compliment the boy’s black metal hoodie ($19.99). He tells me where I can buy one. I walk off saying, “you’ll never see me again.” Later I pull toothbrushes, floss, batteries ($15.99), a pack of raspberries, scented oils ($7.99), and a pack of chicken out from under my clothes and stuff it in my bag. Passing cars hiss like paper on fire. These kids will see me at a different store three weeks later. We do it over again. I tell them that I’m not signing shit when offered a crumpled piece of paper that I can’t read. I walk away, glowing, my heart pounding. “You said we’d never see you again,” yells one of them. “At THAT store,” I shout, not looking back.

I forgot to lock the door when I left the house this morning. My girlfriend is pacing in the hall. “It’s because you’re a man with a penis,” my girlfriend tells me. “You can’t do shit right. Women don’t fuck basic shit like this up.” I say nothing. This enrages her further. “You’re just like my mother,” she says. I say nothing. It’s 97 degrees inside of the room. The trash is overflowing with paper towels. I receive a text asking when I’ll pay $4000 in owed rent. I lie and say that the state is going to call me back soon about housing assistance. My girlfriend asks which of the bitches I’m fucking is sexting me. “It’s work,” I say. “I’ll never cheat on you.” That’s a lie. I cheated on her five years ago. It was the last time I’ve ever had sex. It’s likely to be the last time I’ll ever have sex. I don’t think about sex any more. All I think about is money.

Later she apologises. She asks me if I hate her. She asks me if we have enough xanax ($16.56 out of pocket, $0 with Medicaid). I lie and tell her she’s not going through it too fast. She asks me if I still love her. I tell her that I do. She’s retching because she has to get naked to shower. She says the name of her rapist under her breath. I hear his name. I say nothing. “God,” she mutters, scratching at the dead skin flaking from her fingers. I google how much it costs to hire a bankruptcy lawyer.

There’s a gun in my face. The kid holding me at gunpoint is shaking. He’s screaming at me to put the promethazine with codeine in the bag. I calmly pick up the bag and hand it to my manager. She stuffs bottles of cheap tylenol syrup in the bag as I stare at the muzzle of the gun and wonder if it’s real or a replica. I can see the rifling in the black hole of the barrel. I’m not scared. I’m not praying. God is watching. He knows this child now. If I’m shot, my girlfriend gets paid out many thousands of dollars in insurance. I think about shoving the kid for kicking over my workstation. He takes the bag in his hands and flees. When the cops show up I give them my witness statement. As I’m giving it, the detective says it’s normal to be in shock. He says it because I’m smiling. I’m smiling because I feel excited. I hope the kid gets away with it. I hope he makes some money. On my way home I steal a can of cold brew ($4.19) and buy some cigarettes ($10.85).

Smoking a cigarette on the sidewalk, waiting for the bus ($2.75). I’ve just been fired for stealing from my job. The LP officer apologizes to me. “I know you’re going through a lot right now,” he says, “but we have a zero tolerance policy.” I owe him $9675 in losses. We agree to hash out a payment plan and he wishes me luck. We’re lying to each other. In 5 months my new employer will buy out my old one and I will never hear from that LP officer again. His blessing worked.

My girlfriend is screaming at me because we have no mustard ($2.99). God demands mustard. Her burger ($13.99) arrived with no mustard. I order another one before the late night diner closes and demand mustard. I order another one when that one also arrives with no mustard. Two delivery men have arrived at my door with burgers with no mustard. I have three burgers with no mustard. My girlfriend is sobbing, shaking. We have no clean towels ($2.99). It’s 12:45 at night. I’ve been trespassed from the only store that’s open, so I lie and say they’re closed. She sends me out anyway. I knock on a neighbor’s door and ask them for mustard. He disappears into his house. I’m eating a dry burger when he returns with a full bottle of mustard. He declines, politely, at 1:15AM, one of my burgers when offered. My girlfriend is calling me asking where the fuck I am. I run back home with the mustard; she snatches the bottle through the door, slams it. Five minutes later as I’m eating my second burger, sitting on the laundry room dryer, she calls me:

“This fucking mustard is expired.”

I say hi to Jenny. Today I’m training Jenny. We worked together for two years. She saw me get pulled into the office to get fired for stealing. Cheerfully, I show her the new system she’ll be working with. She asks me how I am. “Doing great,” I lie. I see all of my former co-workers that week. They smile at me. I smile at them. We’re all full of shit. We love each other. I’m sad when training is over. They buy me coffee ($3.49).

My girlfriend and I are lying in the dark. Modem ($78 per month) lights flicker like candles beside my bare feet. A rotten stench is leaking out of the cupboard in the kitchen. She’s on the inflatable bed ($79.99), I’m sleeping on the floor. “You should leave me,” she says. “Get a girlfriend who will suck your dick. I’m broken. There’s so many girls who would love to suck your dick.”

I tell her the truth: I’ll never leave her, and I don’t care if we both die with my dick never having been in her mouth.

I’m smoking a cigarette by the loading dock. My bank account has $5.79 in it. I get paid in a week. An LP officer walks up to me and tells me that he’s heard why I left my last job. “I’ve also heard you’ve been stealing from the Kroger,” he says. “It’s all he-said-she-said, though. I don’t know what’s true and what’s not.”

“I’m not doing that shit any more,” I tell him, “but don’t take my word for it. Watch the cameras and check my receipts.”

He laughs and says he’s not going to give me any special treatment, and leaves me to finish my break. As he walks away I stare at the Buffalo Wild Wings logo on the back of his shirt ($49.99), and start to pray.

(2021, no location)