Once, years and years ago, my son Declan and I were dropping off a bunch of things for donation at our local Goodwill. It was a Sunday, so they were closed, and so as per usual, we left our things with the other donations piled close to the entrance. We unloaded the car, hopped back in and left, hanging a left out of the parking lot which lead us to drive past the Goodwill once again.
As we were driving by, I saw that a nicely kept, newer minivan was parked in the space we just left and that a woman and her son were going through the boxes and bags that Declan and I had just unloaded. I swung into the parking lot across the street and watched for a few moments, because I could not believe what I was seeing. I could feel my blood pressure rising, watching this woman load the items that Declan and I had JUST DONATED to charity into her newer-than-mine vehicle. I decided that I had to try to confront her.
Now, realize that this was before everyone and their grandma had a cell phone, smartphone, digital camera, dash cam, YouTube, etc. We had brickish, heavy, blocky cell phones that only stored a few numbers and dialed and received calls – no pictures, no texting, no internet, no 24/7 connectivity with the rest of the world. So, thusly disconnected from our friends and family, off we drove back into the Goodwill parking lot, and rolled right up on her. She knew she was busted. She knew that she was stealing, that she was doing the wrong thing and that I was ANGRY.
She took off. I took off after her. I got her license plate, but I still followed her to just shy of the airport (from Scarborough, for any of you familiar with the area). For those not familiar – that is fuck far. And she was scared, driving erratically and I was single-mindedly in pursuit. What was I going to do if I actually got her? No flipping idea – I was just do infuriated that she would take her kid and STEAL from the GOODWILL, items that MY KID and I just DONATED. You know, TO HELP OTHER PEOPLE.
So, while we’re flying along the 401, I can see her son WALKING around inside her almost brand-new minivan (needs to steal from charity?), playing with a toy that I KNOW that my son just gave away “so another kid who doesn’t have any toys can maybe play with it, Mummy.”
And then, I just stopped. I took the next exit and headed home. Explaining to my child why we would continue to do the right thing, and why when we see someone doing the wrong thing, causing harm, that we cannot sit quietly by and pretend not to see it. That we must act, because it is the right thing to do. Now, I did also explain that typically high-speed highway chases are rarely the exactly right thing to do either, but that because we had her license plate and vehicle information that we could let the store know and they could decide what action, if any, to take. In the meantime, since it’s highly unlikely that someone drove 45 minutes or longer to hit up that exact CLOSED Goodwill, I cost her a ton of gas and time that day (I was driving a little economy car, so it cost me far, far less than it did her ;))
I never much thought about what I now call the ‘Reverse Donation’ before that day, but ever since that day, I have been hyper-pissed off whenever I see someone looting the donation drop offs. I don’t usually have a camera or other means of recording it, but this past weekend, I did have a camera with me, so I did capture what appears to be yet another mother-son team in a minivan doing the Reverse Donation with a Twist – treating it more like an exchange program than a straight up DONATION program.
Stealing sucks. Stealing sucks even worse when you involved your kids. Don’t suck.