The recurrent failure to resist urges to steal items that you don’t really need and that usually have little value. ~Mayo Clinic
The tiny invaluables are what she was drawn to the most. Shiny, pretty things. Sometimes a set of miniature salt and pepper shakers abandoned on a room service tray in a hotel hallway. Faux gold tops. Lovely. Into her pocket. No one would miss them.
But the ordinary was an attraction as well. Straws. There could never be enough wrapped straws for her colas at home. Movie theaters had a clear wrapper. Panda Express straws were wrapped in white. But the motherlode was at Starbucks. Solid green, sturdy straws in two sizes. Would anyone miss a few extra straws at a time? She didn’t believe it would corrupt their inventory.
Although she could easily afford to buy a box of raw sugar packets at the grocery, she could never resist sliding a few from restaurants into her purse. Just two or three. Never greedy.
Sometimes, when she needed soft shoe liners to make her shoes more comfortable, she would ask for a few at the Nordstrom shoe department, who had the absolute best and were more than happy to provide a few. She did buy shoes there on occasion, she rationalized. It would be no more criminal than keeping the throwaway little hose they provided to try on shoes.
Some tiny invaluables could be a conundrum. Was there a value to them? So perfectly sized. Miniatures, really. The makeup samples at department stores. Sephora being the Big Kahuna. Sometimes, if you asked, they would give you perfume in tiny sample vials. She was working her way up to a small bottle of Dolce and Gabbana’s Light Blue. Well, they were free. Another 20 or so visits and she’d have her perfume bottle.
She had become adept at magazine pickups in doctor’s offices. First, they should not have left her in the waiting room for so long. What did they expect? It was a simple quid pro quo. Her favorites were offices who clearly cared about their patients by subscribing to a variety of important reads.
People, Glamour, Marie Claire—so you could keep abreast of important fashion news. She rewarded these offices by taking only one issue. An older one, leaving the current. But the doctor’s offices who thought two-year-old issues of WebMD would satisfy waiting patients? Oh, did they pay dearly. Left alone in the patient room waiting (yet again) for the usually late doctor, she made sure the room would be short a few band-aids or whatever items she could use. And sometimes not use.
There was a delightful tiny invaluable that sadly is no longer on the market. She had an impressive collection of airline blankets which easily fit into her carry on. How useful these actually were. Functional invaluables were rare, but not mutually exclusive. Like the salt and pepper shakers, for example. And, of course, the makeup. Oh, and the raw sugar and certainly straws.
Woefully, she realized deep inside that she must feed this monster inside of her if she were ever to live as she pictured herself living.
Try as she would, it was impossible for her to leave a doctor’s office without a magazine in tow. Except for WebMD. That brought her no satisfaction whatsoever. It would be like taking home packets of plain white sugar. She could never take just one straw.
Sometimes she did have moral dilemma conversations with herself. Was this stealing? What if there was no cost involved? One day at Target, she watched the company representative who stocked the checkout stand magazines put all of the old ones into a shopping basket. She asked the woman what she did with them, thinking they must donate them to a library or senior center. No ma’am. They are tossed away. Like garbage.
She walked away wondering if perhaps her tiny invaluables obsession somehow righted a few wrongs in the world.