Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Theme Thursday: Fire


Reminiscent of Jane's Addiction, I got caught stealing once...in High School. We were out getting a movie, my sister, her friend (Amanda) and I. Amanda wanted to run by the store that her boyfriend worked at, young love at its finest. With nothing better to do, than watch them make eyes at each other, I trolled the store looking for oddities.

As we were leaving the store, Amanda said her beau told us to go across the street to McDonald's and wait for him. When he arrived, he confronted me with stealing a flashlight. Evidently another clerk had watched me deviously slip a instrument into my jacket. Vehemently denying it, he then said they were calling the cops if I did not pay for it.

Instantly, visions of Prometheus jumped in my head. Having been caught for stealing fire from Zeus, he was chained to a rock as an eagle ate his liver. Each day it would grow back to be eaten again. Only now, my feet were in the fire. Do I pay for something I did not do? Do I face judgement and a witness who swears I did it?

I caved, forking over the money, even though it did not sit right with me. Who would believe a high school kid? My dad and I came back later that evening to defend my honor, but they were hearing none of it. Why would I pay if I was innocent?

That night taught me a valuable lesson. Sometimes when we find ourselves in the fire, we can be tempted to take the path of least resistance, to avoid getting burned. We make decisions we otherwise would not, that lead us only deeper into the flames.

41 comments:

Ronda Laveen said...

The Prometheus story provided a great visual. Your last paragraph is so true. Often we think we are doing ourselves a favor by taking the path of least resistance only to find it a treacherous choice. I think those accused of witchcraft also faced the same decision. However, only those abroad were literally burned. The "witches" or more frequently healers in the US were merely hanged.

I read back to your last post and enjoyed your courting story as much as your boys probably did. I didn't get lunch though. Happy TT.

Ronda Laveen said...

P.S. Great photo. What is the story of that?

Kris said...

I stopped a fellow trying to pinch something in a shop the other day. You should have seen the sheepish look on his face. He was pocketing a few containers of fancy shampoo, and (without thinking) I just said, "put it back on the shelf, you dickhead!"

So he did.

subtorp77 said...

Got caught at work, nicking from the vending machine( seems an item got hung up and fell when I got a different one ). Bloody cameras in the things, now! They consider it stealing due to the fact we havea reimbursement system, set up, if you los emoney in the machines. And don't try rocking the things, either. I made restitution and that was that. No worries. And thanks brian, now I can't get that vision of Prometheus out of my head.

California Girl said...

I came close to stealing a record album once. I was in a music store with my best friend and we dared each other to do it then talked each other out of it! I think we were fourteen. Luckily for us, a private dick was in the store at the time watching us and listening to our conversation. He worked for the store. He followed us out of the store, after we'd chickened out and revealed his identity and told us he was glad we changed our mind. That was the first last and only time!

willow said...

"Sometimes when we find ourselves in the fire, we can be tempted to take the path of least resistance, to avoid getting burned." Thanks, Brian, for the reminder. I really needed to hear that this week.

Glad your liver isn't being eaten daily. Yuk!

Squirrel said...

Yes, you were in a bad spot, and one never really knows what to do -hard to keep your wits in a situation like that. Think of all the ways people cave in to the police during interrogations, yeah, yeah, I did that, maybe, okay yeah...
love the photo, by the way.

Daniel said...

It is so easy to say what we would do in a given situation, but we only really know our course when we are faced with reality. I think that the incident and the turmoil that you went through were a valuable lesson. Not only for you then, but all of us know. Have a great one.

The Clever Pup said...

I should see where Dante would have put you in his circles of hell.

I love your posts. They are always well written and oh so true. Keep up the good work.

Brian Miller said...

@ronda - the pic is from a retreat i did for youth about 2 years ago. Sherando Lake, just outside of Charlottesville, VA. Love camping and just sitting around the fire.

@kris - lol. would love to have been a fly on the wall.

@sub - lol. went a little vivid with the prometheus image there. as a kid, thats what you think when you get in trouble...always worse than reality.

Kurt said...

Why not just let them search you, since you didn't have the flashlight?

Candie Bracci said...

clap clap clap Brian!!

Love that post,not what happened to you of course,but the final lines you know..Fire!

Have a wonderful weekend ;)

reyjr said...

stealing fire! lol.
good one!

Poetikat said...

They don't call it "the fiery temptations of hell" for nothing. Excellent.

Kat

Brian Miller said...

@cali - close call. now why wouldn't he be proactive and talk with you earlier?

@kurt - had already left the premises and said i could have ditched it. i was young and dumb, what do you expect.

@clever - lol. dante would have had a hard time finding a place for me.

Brian Miller said...

@willow - thanks. glad i could say it for you then. and yeah, glad to keep my liver.

@squirrel - think we all envision what we would do in those situations, but when they happen it all seems to go out the window.

tony said...

Something Around Being Too Focused on the Light and forgetting The Heat it produces...........?
By The Way,I Saw Janes Addiction Live In Leeds a few Years Back..They Are One Of The Best Live Bands I,ve Ever Seen!

Gabby said...

Great story Brian and really well written. The last paragraph is soo true. I wish I learned that lesson as a teenager.
Have a great weekend!

Dakota Bear said...

The last paragraph is so true, it is something we don't learn until after we have experienced the pitfalls of life.

Kitty said...

It's a shame you had to be accused of something you didn't do, but I suppose it's good to learn a lesson like that in a relatively harmless way so when it counts you've already got it in your packet, ya know?

Dot-Com said...

Sometimes we have to just accept that nobody else will ever know or believe the truth. We get burnt sometimes. Who's in the picture?

Brian Miller said...

@dot-com - me, about 2 years ago.

@GABBY - thanks, have a great one yourself!

@kitty - very true.

@dakota bear - true as well.

Tom said...

good story and well thought out...there's a lesson every young kid should read...

Roy said...

*sigh* I really hate seeing stories like this. You were bullied, plain and simple, and they use the threat of the police to bully you.

And that's the part that bugs me the most. I have a lot of friends on the local force, and they all tell stories of hearing parents tell their kids "See that cop over there? If you don't behave, I'm gonna let him put you in jail!" This kind of misuse of police turns them from "keepers of the public peace", your help in trouble, to The Enemy. I hate that!

You seem to have weathered it well, anyhow. But I understand the regret. Hell, I'd be damned angry still at having been snookered like that! But you're so right, we'll do almost anything to avoid conflict.

Wings said...

Wow, great, unexpected take on the theme. I feel bad for your younger self, but it was a part of what made you who you are. So, I guess it is part of your journey. Great post.

tut-tut said...

Sometimes it's expedient to just go along to get along. But it sticks, doesn't it?

A.Decker said...

Warmth on the hands; the smell of smoke in the fresh air; love that pic!

Very different take on the theme. Totally unexpected and refreshing. The angle, I mean. The events recounted put a knot in my gut. But, well written and you make a good point.

Colette Amelia said...

I felt so bad for you. what a terrible way to learn a lesson.

I am glad that your father supported you and believed in you...his nurturing made you the wonderful father you are now!

Marianna said...

After 12 hours of formating for my burnt-out PC I can tell you this...you couldn't be more right my fellow blogger friend!

Like me and my laptop...I could have thrown it away-buy a new one (easy way out). Instead I chose the path not taken--'revived' it and...saved my money (for now:-)!

thank you for another great post Brian!
Peace and love
xoxo

Baino said...

Brilliant. I nicked a lippy once when I was about 14 and the guilt I felt meant I never, ever did it again. Poor Prometheus, I wonder if the eagle enjoyed it with a nice glass of Chianti . . .

Anonymous said...

Yes... You were a Cherub every time we redistributed those things of which we did not own.

-DF

Brian Miller said...

@DF - that's a post for another day...

@Baino - lol. nice Hanibal Lecter tie in.

@marianna - just think of the money you saved. : ) hope the resurrection last a bit.

@collette - he'll probably read this so i will agree. : ) he's a pretty good dad.

@a.decker - can't wait to be by the campfire again soon!

@roy - true. have several friends on the force that face the same thing. working with the families i do now, i see that a lot. leads to a very unhealthy mistrust of the law.

@wings & @tom - thanks, was fun to write

@tut-tut - easy to do, and yes it stinks!

Happy TT all! looking forward to next go round.

Sandra Leigh said...

I'm with Roy. That was bullying. I can't stand bullies.

I'm glad you posted that photo. It brings back happy memories for me (and for you), and works as an antidote to the bullies.

Megan said...

I...I...I've stolen things.

There, I said it.

lettuce said...

Prometheus' punishment was so grindingly excruciating - could be used as a metaphor for lots of things i think.

nicely done here - "Fire" is giving a really interesting range of posts.

katherinemisegades said...

It takes being older for most people to develop the courage to stand their ground. Wonder how many kids he bilked out of money with that hoax. He probably went on to form a ponzi scheme on Wall Street.

Mrsupole said...

I wonder if those two guys ever went to jail, they should be there. They had a real scheme going on to steal money from unsuspecting kids. Both are probably still scuzzbuckets. I hope you teach the boys how to avoid bullies and it was so nice of your dad to stick up for you. Just sad that the two bullies got away with this.

You are right about the police being used to scare kids. Jail should be what is used to scare them. Jail scares me.

Thank you for such a great post.

God bless.

Evening Light Writer said...

That must have felt really awful, you already feel like no one listens to you as a teenager and to know you've not done something that you've been accused of doing is even worse. Besides, if I was going to steal something, I would have went for something awesome.

books,coffee,etc.... said...

Hi! Brian Miller,
After reading your Thursday Theme post, there is a very valuable lesson to be learned.I found some of the comments from the commenters..too funny!...Kris, subby77, Reyjr,
etc,etc,etc....
Thanks, for sharing Brian,
Deedee :-)

Cuppa Jo said...

LOL. I loved mythology in high school. Was there a greek chorus too? I never stole anything because I never wanted to get caught, same reason why I didn't play with fire too.

Oliag said...

I probably would have done what you did in that situation...an awful way to learn how some people can be so nasty...sounds like you had a a very nice and understanding father...Great idea for this theme...and I love your writing..