04 December, 2013

The Great Hot Dog Caper and an Ebeneezer Scrooge Society

Yesterday someone posted on Facebook that they had just heard on the police scanner that that a person had taken a hot dog from a convenience store without paying for it and the police were being dispatched. A lot of good-natured humor ensued, (and I have to admit, most of it was quite humorous) but lost in that was the stark reality that someone was apparently so hungry that they would risk going to jail for a hot dog!  Let that sink in to your mind. 
Can you imagine being so hungry that you would risk being arrested, the humiliation that would go along with the arrest, the newspaper articles, the court proceedings and so on... for a convenience store hot dog?  Honestly, I cannot really fathom that, and this is my purpose for my blog entry today. 

When I saw the post, I immediately posted that if someone would tell me where it was, I would gladly go pay for the hot dog so that the person would not have to be arrested. I guess no one took me serious, because no one ever said where this was happening. Some time later there was a follow up post that the hot dog bandit had been arrested. When I read that post on my phone, I was standing in Walmart where I was picking up a few groceries... and tears welled up in my eyes. A lady I barely know happened by about that time and looked at me and saw the tears and asked if I was all right. I told her what had happened and said that it just broke my heart that a person was going to jail over a hot dog. For heaven's sake, they sell  them in the convenience stores two for $2.  So for ONE dollar, we've dispatched the police, arrested someone and will spend how much money to hold them in jail and walk them through the court system... when we could have just helped someone who was down. 

My heart is breaking again as I type this today. Think with me... a woman I barely know, (I don't even know her name) had enough compassion inside of her that when she saw me with tears in my eyes, stepped out of her comfort zone to ask me if I was all right. What if someone had done that for this person? I'm not trying to trump my own horn, but believe me, if I had been there, or if I could have found out where this was occurring, I would have paid for that hot dog, and I'm sure I'd have bought the second one and given them it as well. I want to make it clear that I am NOT condoning theft, but I have to cry out, "What is wrong with this situation?" My god... where is the compassion among humanity that we'd rather see someone arrested than help them? I told someone else about this story later yesterday afternoon and they said that the person was better off because now they would be in jail where they had a roof over their head and would be fed. In my mind I heard the words of Ebeneezer Scrooge... "Are there no prisons... And the union workhouses... are they still in operation?"  Is this what we are becoming... an Ebeneezer Scrooge Society? Isn't it rather ironic that this happened to have taken place at the beginning of the "Christmas Season"?

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