I keep looking back on my life and realizing that the frequent excuse, “I was young and dumb,” may not actually be the full truth of the matter.  Especially as it continues to apply, closer and closer to now – and I have to ask myself, am I too old to be young and dumb?  Maybe a little forethought would’ve kept us out of this mess?

Anyway, I was young and dumb once upon a time.

Technically, this out-of-lesson behavior has me, forever, banned from the Academy Sporting Goods store franchise.

I wish I had a good excuse.  But this one’s pretty much legit; I had it coming.

Cut to fifteen-year-old me.  I don’t know any better.  There’s no true understanding of consequences in my mind.  I’m a millennial; I’m entitled.  I played outside and watched the Internet rise to popularity.

The world belongs to me.

I play football at my high school and it’s game day.  What this means is that during sixth period, which would normally mark the beginning of practice, myself and the other football players are essentially let loose from school early, as we didn’t practice on nights when we had games.  So far so good.

Except that’s like shaking a beehive and throwing it into a retirement home, because what else is there to do?

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So essentially a bunch of rambunctious; no, rowdy; no, raucous; basically pure turbulence was unleashed into a civilized world at an unexpected time.

What’s the worse that could happen?

Well, an Academy Sporting Good’s store was a little under a mile away, if one cut through the backwoods behind the high school.  Why not go there?  Or better yet!  Why not pick up a few things, while we’re there?  (That’s slang for, everyone bring back packs cause we’re about to take candy from babies.)

In case you still don’t get it, we were gonna go steal some shit.

Please, stay with me.  I’ve changed.

So we make the journey through the woods, my companions and I, enter Academy and basically creep around the store like Swiper the Fox, from Dora the Explorer.

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We loaded up the cargo and made for the door.  And of course as we were exiting, the alarms went off.  Because we weren’t some high-brow thieves executing an operation; we were dumb ass 15-year-olds jamming shit that obviously had sensors on it into a backpack.

You know what makes this particularly stupid?  Our team was sponsored by Nike.  Literally everything that we were trying to steal, was provided for us just because we played on the team.  Which made us lower than the common criminal.  We were reckless.  Just a bunch of jackasses taking something cause we could.

Okay, so here’s where it gets interesting.  I was one of the strategists – you know, the guy who didn’t carry the backpack in case we got caught, but still had a say in what we should put in it? – because I’m no runner, you feel me?

So when the alarm went off, I was like, “run!  I’ll stay here and distract them.”

As if.

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Had we followed my plan, everything would’ve worked out fine.  I would have had no merchandise on me, the bad guys would’ve gotten away, and the wheels on the bus would’ve went round and round.  Most of the carriers; I’m using cool drug slang so I can feel cool, most of the carriers actually did run.  In fact, only one stayed.  One.

So instead of us making off with all of the goods, it was Shrove Tuesday.

We got caught.  So obviously, staff walks up to where we have stopped – between here and there.  Freedom and shackles.  And they nervously ask us to step back in the store because the alarms have gone off.  Mind you, me and my companions are 15 so we don’t have the social maturity to tell them to fuck off.

We comply.

The alarm goes off again.  Homeboy next to me has a backpack full of heat.  I know this.  He knows this.  They know this.

They ask us to step back through the door sensors. By this point, they know they have us.  They want us to dance.  Dance, monkeys.

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We were undone.

So they take us back to this, I don’t know what it was.  Interrogation room?  Keep in mind, these are Academy employees not police officers.  It was like being arrested by Walmart.  But we didn’t know our rights.  At this point it was like we were already serving 20 to life, no judge, no jury.

They actually separated us.

Before they did, I remember whispering to the guy with the backpack, “tell them our friend Tony was the one who put this all together.  He doesn’t have a last name.  We just met him.”  Tony was a nobody.  In fact, I was thinking about Tony the Tiger when I came up with the name.

You guys think I’m joking, but my mom legitimately picked me up from Academy when I was fifteen cause I tried to steal shit.

Right, so we’re in this room.  Like it didn’t have one way mirrors or anything, and I’m probably just misremembering portions of it because it was almost a decade ago.  But I do know there were definitely four white walls and a table like someone was about to walk in and play good cop bad cop.  The Dark Knight wasn’t out yet, but it’s definitely reminiscent of that scene where Batman slams Joker’s head into a table.

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Now, I actually don’t remember what they said to me in this interrogation.  But I know I was scared for my little life.  They legitimately made me feel like I was going to jail forever.  But I stuck to my guns and told them that Tony made us do it.

Side note: If you’re ever being tortued, Frosted Flakes are more than good, they’re great.

What made it worse is that when they were done with me they took me back outside to the waitin area and my friend was in tears, like they had water boarded him for answers.  For a moment I thought he had spilled the beans or pinned it all on me for a shorter sentence.  But it ended up being cause they called his mom and she was on the way.  A feeling I would soon sympathize with.  

In my adult life, I realize that these Academy employees were probably just screwing with a bunch of dumb kids, taking turns walking in and asking questions to see if we’d break.  Because we don’t know our rights in high school, so unbeknownst to us, you can’t actually keep a person from walking out of your store.  But whatever, it was a good lesson because I don’t steal shit after that.  And I still remember.

Every time I walk into Academy I wonder if they’re going to stop me, like “Hey!  You’re not allowed in here.”  Then show me a mug shot that they somehow acquired.  But screw it cause sometimes I need a new pair of shoes and it’s not likely that they remember that I’m banned.  Plus I’m paying this time around.

But in fairness, I was wrong.  So I’m sorry Academy.  Yes.  I’m sorry.

Bitches.

steal

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