The Five Finger Discount

I do not recall ever getting an allowance when I was a young’un. Most of the boys I grew up with in Amarillo, Texas in the early to mid-sixties shared the same fate. Our most profitable way for us to make money was scrounging empty glass Coke® bottles to take to the Piggly Wiggly®. We would get a dime a bottle. It took three bottles plus a nickel to get an RC Cola® and a Moon Pie®. Getting three bottles and a nickel was no easy task back then and it was even harder when most of us started smoking in our early teens. That took five bottles and a nickel! Needless to say,we were hard pressed to make ends meet back then.
When desperation took hold, we had to resort to what we called a “five finger discount.” That was when we would go the local store and shove whatever it was that we wanted into our pants and slip out the door without paying for it. Worked pretty well most of the time.
Mr. Thomas (not his real name – I do not want to risk him finding out even after all these years) owned a small store nearby and his store had been the usual target of our discount program. There was another store nearby that was owned by a fellow that had been in the Army. We left him alone. He was meaner than a striped snake. That’s another story for another time.
Now, there was this one day that is was super hot and the six of us (there was twelve of us in the neighborhood that grew up together but one or more of us was always absent cuz they were grounded or roped into doing chores or something). Anyway. We did not have enough money amongst us to get even one RC Cola. We were going to have to use the five-finger discount.
All of us went to Mr Thomas’ store together. It was busy that day and Mr. Thomas was not there. It would be an easy in and out job. So we thought.
We went about our business and wandered throughout the store as if we had nothing to do. I managed to stuff a Moon pie down my pants and slip out the door. It did not take long for all of us to get what we needed and get out of there while avoiding the cashier. As luck would have it, she was the sole worker in the store at that moment. It was the perfect crime. Uh huh.
We had a clubhouse of sorts in a bunch of Horse radish trees nearby and we met there. Among the six of us, we had four Moon Pies and three RC Colas.
We made do with what we had and went off to our respective homes for the night. Supper was on the table when I got home. As we were eating, Mr. Thomas’ store came up. I don’t know why. Dad observed that Mr. Thomas was a full blown official butcher and all and had a complete butcher shop set up in the back of the store. I knew that and said so. Out of nowhere, he made an observation that if Mr. Thomas ever caught anybody stealing from him, he could just as easy take the thief out back and make hamburger out of them.
We never used the five finger discount ever again.

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One thought on “The Five Finger Discount

  1. We were the reason packaging became more sealed. We would open the candy boxes and take a couple, put in mouth and enjoy before leaving the store. Had not thought about the butcher.

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