My first career job was as a computer operator in a manufacturing plant. The shift began at 5pm and ended around 3am. While the factory ran 24/7, the office was a 9 to 5 operation. Shortly after arriving at work, I found myself alone for the rest of my shift.
I didn't own a car yet. The winter weather was pretty brutal. I bundled up to walk the half-mile to work, but it was harder to take my baby daughter out in that cold. My dad came to the rescue by loaning his car to me on Fridays. Errands, grocery shopping, doctor visits – if they didn't get done one Friday, they'd wait until the next.
One Wednesday afternoon, I made an unpleasant discovery. The toilet paper holder was empty and there was none available to refill it. Other things might wait until Friday, TP wasn't one of them. As I walked to work, I searched for a solution to my predicament. In the evil recesses of my mind, a plot began to form. The ladies room had TP dispensers with giant rolls. When a roll was nearly empty, the cleaning crew would replace it and set the partial roll on top of the dispenser. The unwritten rule was to use the partial roll before starting on the new one. With this in mind, I headed to the ladies room after I was sure that everyone had left the office. I was in luck. A roll sufficient to meet my needs sat on top of one dispenser. I gleefully snatched it up, hurried back to the computer room and hid that partial roll in my oversized handbag.
Guilt for my petty thievery? Not that I was aware of. Just relief at finding a solution to my dilemma.
A couple years later, I started applying for computer programming jobs. One prospective employer had a questionnaire to determine the applicant's suitability for the position. I zipped through several questions, then halted. Have you ever taken anything from your place of employment? With startling speed that roll of TP leaped from some remote spot in my brain and landed directly on top of the questionnaire. “Are you going to tell?”, it inquired. “Are you crazy, Mr. TP? No is the only correct answer to this question. I don't know where you came from, but go back there now.” I heard him mutter "a liar as well as a thief" as he reluctantly retreated.
Over the years I answered that question several times. Each time I wrote “No”, Mr. TP would scream in protest. I just ignored him and eventually his voice weakened. Until my husband applied for a job that required a lie detector test. After completing the test, he entertained me with some of the questions. Have you ever committed an undiscovered crime? Ever taken anything from an employer? I had never liked the idea of working for an employer who began our relationship with enough distrust to require a lie detector test. Now I realized that I couldn't. It's easy to write “No”. How would I hide my crime from the lie detector?
No, my face never made the FBI's Most Wanted poster. My employer never expressed a hint of curiosity about the remains of that TP roll. Get serious. But if I had ever guessed how often Mr. TP would come back to taunt me, I would have found another solution.
Such is the remorse of a TP felon.