I'm A Low-Level Kleptomaniac

I'm a 24 year-old freelance writer who supports herself financially who has only just stopped waiting tables 40 hours a week and I have recently started stealing.

Sep 14, 2012 at 3:30pm | Leave a comment

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The brief for this picture was 'hold some condiments and look intense'

So, I'm a 24 year-old freelance writer who supports herself financially. This means I cry at cash points, take water bottles full of alcohol on nights out, have only just stopped waiting tables 40 hours a week and have recently started stealing.

Before you dismiss me as someone everyone should be sick on, just hold those horses you keep in your parents' large stables in Surrey, you massive bastard.

When the kleptomania started, I couldn't afford to buy food, so I was stuck with bowls of rice for a week while waiting to be paid (I hope my parents aren't reading this. If they are, hey! I'm doing fine in London, this is just an exaggeration for comic effect hahahaAAaaAAAARGH) which was acceptable until I ran out of soy sauce. Then it became unacceptable.

Sitting in a terrible cafe -- because they let me drink tap water and use their wifi -- I noticed the innocent-looking salt packets on the table and began salivating.

I thought of the blandness of boiled rice. I thought of my cold flat. I thought about how you're supposed to have a seventh of a tablespoon of salt a day (or something) and I was way below my RDA. Most of all, I thought about how salted rice is a bit like soy sauce. The heavens parted, an angel began singing fluted melodies about "opportunities that present themselves" and I suddenly realised: While there are kindly/naive cafes offering salt packets, I will never be alone. So I stole one and it began.

Look, the paper in the work toilets is for everyone and NOWHERE does it stipulate that the tissue should be enjoyed only in the confines of this particular cubicle. The one with “Hey gurl don’t let LDN grind your bitch-ass down mofo” written on the doorknob. Or whatever you’re supposed to call that thing you open loo cubicles with. Fastening?

Anyway, what happens if I accidentally take too much toilet paper for my needs? Should I cast it aside like a spurned lover? No. I’ll pop it in my bag for future use and, if I accidentally take two rolls after some high quality lock-jimmying, then it’s hardly Ocean’s Eleven.

Nobody produces big budget heist films about taking a bit of toilet paper, unless we all hugely misunderstood the original Bourne trilogy.

Let me transport you to a quiet restaurant, where you're enjoying a fine crab linguine. Oh, a fork just fell into your bag! Remember what Gandhi said? That's right, "Your kitchen will always benefit from an extra fork," so go ahead, m’lady. Considering you've just spent a tenner of my good custom, a fork isn’t going to go amiss.

Even if you're spotted, the waitress checking her phone by the tank containing three dead goldfish won’t chase you down the street for the sake of cutlery. Especially not if you climb out of the bathroom window to throw her off the scent. The perfect crime. Mainly because it's, again, not a crime.

Latch? Would you call it a bathroom-door latch?

Condiments are a sensitive subject, mainly because -- as the great novelist and poet Margaret Attwood once said -- context is all. She was referring to a dystopian vision of patriarchal society as opposed to Splenda packets in Pret a Manger, but the sentiment remains.

Packeted condiments are OK, despite the fact that “packeted” isn’t a word. In fact, anything displayed on those little stands in coffee chains such as Starbucks or the aforementioned Pret is fair game: They’ve offered it to you, so it’d be terribly rude not to.

Focus on salt, pepper, sugar and napkins as opposed to stirrers because nobody wants to get home to find they’ve stolen 600 stirrers. What are you going to do, make a picket fence for a gnome?

A toilet clasp sounds more involved in the actual toilet than the door. For God's sake, this is irritating.

ANYWAY. Make sure you also steer clear of the sprinkles selection in coffee shops, as well as the milk jugs. It’ll only end in creamy cinnamon-flavoured tears when you're bag's covered in vanilla dust and you've been arrested (those milk jug things are pretty expensive). However, always go mental in a Wetherspoons with the ketchup, BBQ sauce, brown sauce, mayo, tartare sauce, salt, vinegar, horseradish sauce and mustard. It's a free-for-all. McDonalds sadly got wise to this, so now only allow you to steal straws and napkins which shows a level of suspicion toward the general public that is frankly upsetting. What happened to trust, guys? It's not like I'm stealing bottled sauces. Which are, by the way, the gateway condiment to full on kleptomania, as opposed to poverty-oriented necessity.

Three glass bottles of ketchup may seem harmlessly inexpensive, but can’t be explained away like a rogue fork, a lone cluster of tissue or a maverick sachet. Pilfering bottled sauce is dipping your toast into the relishes of illegal activity. What’s worse, the moment you squeeze that BBQ badboy on your cheese on toast and taste the glory, it’s a difficult high to forget.

There was a six-month period when my bag was constantly filled with candle holders and salt shakers. And, because of the ergonomics of salt shakers, everything else in my bag was consistently covered in salt.

Sure, I steal, but I'm no monster. I'm just like you but more canny and, hey, it's morally acceptable because I draw the line at sauce bottles. Everything's fine until you go down the bottled condiment route;.

And whatever you do, make sure you act casual whenever you're doing your thieving, because, while it's not a crime, you could end up--

A LOCK. IT’S CALLED A BLOODY BATHROOM DOOR LOCK. What a letdown.

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