On October 18, 2012, I was accused of stealing at Empire Cake (formerly Lulu’s) on 8th Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets. I’ve never been accused of stealing before since I’ve never stolen. It was a shocking, insulting, and humiliating experience that I did not deserve.
I made a $5.90 purchase, and paid with a $20 and a $1 (as I recall). The cashier gave me $5.10 in change, and I said I’d given her a $20. She gave me the additional $10, but looked uncertain, so I offered my phone number in case her drawer was short.
Just then, two men (I believe the owners – they wouldn’t tell me who they were) came out from the back and accused me of stealing $10. I said I was just offering to leave my phone number in case the drawer was short. The short one sneered, “You’d never return the money.” He said I could come downstairs and watch the security video that “proved” I was a thief. It showed the cashier placing my bill in a slot where there now were no $20s. Okay, so either the $20 bill disappeared somehow, or I made an honest mistake. But he wouldn’t let me speak. He said I’d been harrassing the cashier and I called her a cheat. This was completely untrue. We’d been making small talk about salted chocolate, and when she gave me the change I thought she’d made an honest error. But nothing I said mattered. He insisted that I came into the store with the intent to steal, and demanded that I return the $10 or he’d call the police. I gave him the $10 and left.
Karma and Uncooked Muffins
I’ve lived in the West Village for 32 years, and I don’t go around cheating local businesses – or any business. I’ve never been treated like a common criminal before because I’m not a common criminal, and it felt horrible. Who did he think I was? How could this be happening? How could he not even give me a hearing? I’m a middle-class, middle-age woman. I know I don’t look like a thief. As I left, he told me to never come back, which of course I surely won’t.
It’s not good karma to accuse honest neighborhood residents of theft. If the owners of Empire Cake keep doing that, their business won’t last long, and that is how it should be.
I still think I gave the cashier a $20 bill, because I remember looking at it and thinking I should point out this is a $20 since I know cashiers often can’t remember what you gave them. I feel like they stole $10 from me. Why, then, was it not in the register? I don’t know. Perhaps someone pocketed it – perhaps even the owner himself, considering how irrationally he was behaving. Or perhaps I did make a mistake. The one thing I’m sure of is that I am not a thief. I didn’t come into the store with the intent to steal $10, like some delinquent teenager. I came in with the intent to get a chocolate cupcake, and I offered my phone number to the cashier in case her drawer was short. I live only a few blocks away, and I absolutely would have returned the $10 if I had been mistaken.
FYI, don’t buy their muffins. I bought one once, and it was uncooked inside.