Thou Shalt Not Steal

Life sure is getting harder … and weirder.  Call me a twentieth century throw-back, but people and times seem to be changing fast and I don’t think it’s my imagination.  Just yesterday, my husband and I were out taking a drive in the gorgeous Blue Ridge mountains enjoying the magnificent views.  We had no clue where we were, other than a curvy country road.  The adventure is half the fun!  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a huge yard sale and shouted to my husband to “Stop! Yard Sale!”  Since being married to me, he has thrown his car into reverse more than he ever used to.

Who would have thought that all the way out there with no street signs, but plenty of goats and chickens, you would find an awesome sale with great finds and reasonable prices?  My family knows when I am “shopping sales” it’s best to leave me alone because it takes great concentration to select and negotiate the great buys.  I piled up a few items, greeted and exchanged conversation with the sellers, and enjoyed their company.  One seller there told me she had real jewelry – if I was interested – because I looked like the honest type.  Lucky to be born with a kind face, I politely accepted her invitation to see the real stuff and she hauled me up to her front porch where it was all tangled and piled in her shoe boxes.  Some of the pieces were very nice.

She was only 40 but she looked much older, and I knew she had a story to tell – and tell, she did.  Once the wife of a wealthy man, he was always unavailable to her, busy making his money.  Her job seemed to be going out and buying jewelry.  But he was also abusive to her.  She escaped with her young son and her jewelry, and that was it.  Now she was living in a tiny home in the middle of nowhere, where no one knew her.  Her young son was by her side, as I expect he’ll be most of his life, taking care of mom.  She told me she didn’t want to sell her jewelry, but that she had to.  Her prices weren’t cheap, but the pieces were quality and I did purchase a handful from her.  She was so appreciative.

During the sale, an older woman was wandering around the front yard.  She was very sweet, like your grandma, saw the jewelry and asked to see it.  When the younger woman who had been helping me turned her back, the older woman took a handful of the good gold and silver jewelry and stuffed it in her pockets and in her blouse.  Someone yelled out, “Hey lady, you can’t steal that stuff.  That belongs to Karen and you haven’t paid for it!”  It was quite a tense moment.  No one really knew what to do because no one expected a sweet older woman to steal!

Don’t get me wrong.  Since the dawn of man, people have been stealing … from merchants, family, neighbors, even out of necessity.  I can’t sit here and tell you I am the world’s most religious person, but I can tell you I am a person with strong moral convictions.  The problem is that most people seem to have lost their own moral compass.  I wonder where it all went in such a short time.  I am a child of the 60’s and now it seems like that was eons ago.

I also wonder when it was that I turned into my parents.  I am officially an old fogey … but at least I’m a moral one.

©2013 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising.  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation.

3 thoughts on “Thou Shalt Not Steal

    1. Regarding the elderly lady at the yard sale and what happened: She was scolded and told to give it all back and they did not press charges. She was lucky. ~Julie

  1. Nothing old-fashioned about being a person of character and integrity, my friend. I was born in ’64..was a rebel wild-child of the 80’s, yes, big hair and the works! As I grow older I appreciate more and more the values my parents instilled in my sister and I. I think it’s a ‘badge of honor’ to be a moral, ethical, and decent human being like my father expected we should grow up to be. He is gone now, sadly..but his wisdom stays alive in me. Now I have little grandsons. My daughters turned out well. As a grammie, it is my responsibility to demonstrate good, honesty, humility, compassion, empathy, and what it means to take the high road, especially when the low-road is tempting.

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