Welcome to Thatz Not Okay, a regular column in which I school inquiring readers on what is and is not okay. Please send your questions (max: 200 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Thatz Not Okay."
While leaving a function at our synagogue the other night, my wife revealed that she's had her eye on a "vintage" coat that's been hanging in the synagogue coatroom for the last three months. She feels that, after all this time, it should be considered abandoned and that it's OK for her to take it home. But I think that would be wrong. First, the coat clearly belongs to someone else. Second, the coat is in a synagogue of all places, and you just can't take something that isn't yours from a House of God. Plus, what if the true owner recognizes the coat when my wife wears it out to dinner or in the supermarket, etc? My wife even mentioned asking the rabbi for his blessing to take the coat, but I think that's wrong too – he'll always look at her as "the coat-stealer". But she seems determined to take it. Is that okay?
Thatz not okay.
Here is the conversation your wife is setting herself up for:
"Cute coat! Where did you get it?"
"This? I just fuckin' found it and stole it. I take what I want. It's called livin' off the land. I like your coat too. I'm going to take it because I want it."
Just so we're clear, your wife is proposing that she go to your temple's rabbi and ask him specifically to approve an act that is not only immoral but also illegal because she would like a coat for free?
I think she should do this. As a test of your rabbi. If your rabbi gives his blessing to an act of calculated theft, you should find a new temple because your current one plays fast and loose with laws of both God and the state.
Under what circumstances would your rabbi ever give your wife his blessing to steal a coat from anyone, let alone another member of his congregation? Is your wife impoverished? Is she reduced to stealing because she can afford no coat of her own? You know what the rabbi would do in that case? Probably give her the coat off his back. Start a collection for your family. Perhaps organize a temple rummage sale with profits benefitting the needy (your wife.)
"Just a reminder, any articles left unclaimed in the coatroom after today's service will be donated to the rummage sale," he will say one Friday evening, and the coat's owner, a quiet old woman, who keeps to herself mostly will pick up the coat on the way out. She can't imagine anyone would have wanted it anyway—it was a gift from her husband, not really in the modern style—but it's of great sentimental value to her.
Coats don't have an expiration date. A coat doesn't stop being yours because you've had it for three months.
In another twelve years and nine months, that coat will have a bat mitzvah. It will become a woman and then it can choose for itself where it wants to live.
Until then, your wife should leave it alone.
(By the way, is she sure it's left behind every week and not just hung on the same rack by a woman who always happens to be at temple when she is?)
Last night around 9:30, I passed by a well-known national chain bridal store. It was closed for the night, and as I got closer I saw the security guard sitting on one a chair by the front window BAREFOOT & FEET UP on the guest waiting area chairs. His boots and balled up socks were just strewn about on the carpet. Bleeechhhhh!!! What could I do? Other than stand there for a few minutes pretending to text while I actually snapped a picture of his on-the-clock staycation.
Part of me wants to email the pic to the company in the interest of public health. Those chairs are there for moms and bridesmaids to sit on and SQUEEE when the bride-to-be emerges from the dressing room. This might not be the type of shop that serves champagne while you browse, but I'm pretty sure no ones expecting a hearty serving of sweaty foot juice either. And who knows what else he does while he's there alone? He saw me standing there for at least 10 minutes and made no moves to kennel his dogs.
The other part of me is worried if I drop a dime on this guy, he'll get fired which I don't think really think is warranted. Times are tough, & I assume he needs this job, because overnight security is not a super fun gig. Also, to be fair, he was holding some sort of binder which may have been full of security-guard-work things. And I guess, the store is being protected, because really- who wants to break in and wrassle with a barefoot guy in polyester pants?
I'm thinking about sending an email to the corporate address letting them know what I saw, but not including the photo or which store it was. Is that okay?
Thatz not okay.
I know the posters say "If you see something, say something," but that doesn't mean you should feel compelled to report literally every something you see.
I saw…A COMPUTER.
I saw…FOUR TREES AND THEN ANOTHER TREE BRINGING THE TOTAL TO FIVE: FIVE TREES.
I saw…MY HANDS.
All of these fall under the "anything" subheading of something. Another example of anything is a security guard resting with his feet up.
Sending an email to corporate to report that you saw a security guard in one of their stores sitting with his feet up is equivalent to calling a police station with the tip "Someone somewhere stole something." What are they supposed to do with that information? Host a shoe-keeping-on training session for all security guards? The gentleman you saw presumably knows that his employer would prefer he did not remove his shoes on the job. That's why he does it at night, when no one's around.
Unless you suspect the bridal salon in question is infested with hookworms, someone being barefoot in the store probably does not pose a significant public health risk. You know who else often goes barefoot inside a bridal salon? Brides, when they're trying on dresses.
So he's putting his feet on a chair—the throne of the butt. Have you ever sat on a couch? Someone's feet have probably been there. What about on the floor? You may be surprised to learn that many people do not remove their feet before climbing into bed but instead sleep with them there, resting perilously close to rest of their body.
And why do you assume he's doing other terrible things in the store just because you saw him with his shoes off once? If someone is a liar are they also a killer? If someone puts his feet in a butt place, does he also put his butt in a mouth place? Did you neglect to mention that you also saw him rubbing his genitals on all the doorknobs? If you saw him doing that, you should definitely report it: to the store, to the company and, most importantly, to email@example.com.
Feet on a chair, though, is not as pressing. Maybe mention it on the Yelp page.
As for this:
He saw me standing there for at least 10 minutes and made no moves to kennel his dogs.
Did you really stand there for no fewer and perhaps more than 10 minutes lookin' at him lookin' at you lookin' at him lookin' at you lookin' at him doing his job? That must have been uncomfortable for you. Did you feel awkward at any point? Did you ever step out of your body for even a second of the 10+ minute time freeze to consider that it was slightly odd of you to be lurking on a sidewalk staring into a darkened bridal shop?
If I had been that security guard and I had noticed someone staring at me unwaveringly for a full ten minutes, you know what I would have done?
Called the cops.
If you see something, say something.