Longtime ago, we asked our regular contributors through e-mail, What illegal thing have you done for the right reasons? We got many interesting responses. Here are some of them. We have just copied and pasted their responses, not editing them in any way and most of the respondents have requested to stay anonymous, so no names will be published.
1-5 Illegal things done for right reasons
01. I used to work at a CVS. After Halloween, all their candy goes on sale, up to 80% off. After 3 weeks though, no one buys candy corn flavored chocolate or bat shaped gummies. So they told me to throw it all away. This was about 2 shopping carts worth of candy. None of it was expired or damaged, just out of season. Instead of taking it to the dumpster, I placed it all in the back of my car. The next morning it all went to the local food drive center. (In all honesty I did keep 2 bags for myself). The food center sent me a thank you letter saying I donated over 50 lbs of candy.
About 2 months later I am called into the head office. They have it all on video me putting the candy in my car. They told me I owed them $500 in damages or they would press charges. I got a lawyer and argued that dumpster diving isn’t illegal in my area, which since I was told to throw it away this is what I did. In the end I was just fired and banned from the store, charges dropped.
02. When I worked at a pet store, I let a homeless man take dog food and dog treats for free because I didn’t want his dog to starve. When I left my shift that day, I saw him eating the dog food along with his dog in the parking lot. Seeing that nearly made me break out in tears.
03. I worked at Sears Auto over college summer vacations. A lady came in once with a dead battery. She was visibly distressed. She said that she had to bounce her rent check to get the battery. No battery, no car, no work. She asked what the cheapest battery was.
I sold her the $50 cheapo, but pulled the $300, super-cranker, with reserve power cell, out of stock.
04. I worked at a camp for kids with type 1 diabetes (I’m a nurse) and at the end of one summer we had a giant surplus of test strips. Test strips for testing blood sugar are incredibly expensive and can be a huge expense for uninsured or underinsured people with diabetes.
So after giving away as many strips as I could to staff and campers, I still had two giant trash bags worth of boxes, we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of strips that would expire in a few months. No organization would take them because of the close expiry date and I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away like I was told. So I squirreled them away in my car, basically stealing from camp and OneTouch, and decided to make a post on a diabetes forum and send them to people that needed them.
I asked only for people to pay for shipping and I received some donations for people to cover the shipping for others. It took me maybe a week of my time to get them out to people and it restored my faith in humanity (though I did receive some threats from parents that this better not be a scam or they’d find me and hurt me).
I became a nurse to help people, I wasn’t about to let dumb red tape prevent me from doing so. This account was my throwaway for that giveaway.
05. I taught English for a couple of years. High school, 9th grade. (~14 year olds). Also, since I was the new teacher, I taught the Basic English. I got the troublemakers and kids who usually didn’t do so well. Again, because I was the new teacher.
When I was a teacher I had this one student, we’ll call him Ray. Ray had an IEP and Individual Education Plan. Basically, there were certain things we had to do for him to help him learn, provide copies of class notes, let someone take notes for him, give him extra time on tests especially if there was a lot of writing, blah blah blah. He also had one class period a day where he was in Resource, which was a classroom with a bunch of IEP students so that they could have the extra time for stuff.
But the problem with that Resource classroom was that all of those students (maybe 12 of them) had different reasons for being in there. So even though they would take work in there, it wouldn’t always get done.
The Resource classroom was right next to my room. And Ray was in Resource at the same time as I had an empty class period (for “planning”).
Now, let me say this. I ignored a lot of Ray’s IEP which was/is basically illegal. Ray or his mother could have sued me, the school, the county. But see a lot of Ray’s IEP was set up so that he didn’t have to write. And, yes, his handwriting was bad. Really bad. But his hands were fine. He had motor control. He wasn’t dyslexic. What he had, and it took me a while to figure this out, was no self-esteem and a lot of embarrassment. His handwriting had basically stopped at say a 2nd grade level. He was slower at writing. So the class would start writing, say an essay, and he’d get started with everyone else, but about 10-15 minutes in, he’d look around and see that everyone else had a half-page or more of writing and he had maybe two lines and they would look bad, uneven, big letters, up and down. So, he’d get upset, ball up his paper and throw it away, then just sit and not turn stuff in.
Apparently, he’d been doing this for a long time. So, one day, I went over to the Resource class, said that I needed Ray to finish an essay, and asked if he could do it in my room. The Resource teacher gladly said yes (one less problem kid in class). So he came over and I let him sit down and start writing.
While he was doing that, I started putting stuff together for my next class. After a few minutes, I noticed he wasn’t writing. So I asked him, ‘hey ray, you ever notice that I always have the notes typed up before I put them on the projector?’ He grunted a non-committal answer. ‘Let me show you why.’
And I started writing on the board. My own handwriting is pretty atrocious. I mean, I can make it look okay, but it takes some extra time and I have to focus on it. If I’m just writing… pffft. I mean, I can read it, but it’s obviously bad.
I turn around and he’s staring at the board. “Do you draw, Ray?” He nods. “You ever notice Ray that if you stop drawing for a week or so, you don’t get any better. Sometimes if you try to draw something you haven’t drawn in a while, it’s not as good as it used to be? Writing is like drawing, man. If you don’t practice it, you don’t get better at it.” He looked like he’d been hit, kind of stunned.
“So, Ray, this is an English class. In English class, we write. We write every day. So, I know your IEP says you need extra time to write, and that’s fine, if you need time, I understand. ‘Cause, Ray, when you talk and answer questions in class, I can tell you’ve got a good brain in there. You’re smart, and you get this stuff. You just take longer to get it on paper. So Ray, don’t worry if it looks sloppy. I can still read it. And I want to know what you think about stuff. That’s why I’m here. Now get that damn essay done, you’ve only got 30 minutes left.”
Ray worked. He finished that essay. He did work in class. It was never pretty. One time one of his friends/classmates looked at his paper and said something, I don’t know what, but Ray said “man, it’s ok, Mr B can read it.”
A year later, during lunch, Ray came to my class. The first thing he asked me was if there was any chance that I would be moving up and teaching 11th grade (uhh, that’s 16ish year olds). I told him that it wasn’t up to me, but probably wasn’t really much of a chance. He nodded, as if he expected it. Then he held out a piece of paper and said, “See, I just got promoted to Honors English, and I’m a little nervous.”
So, after having me for 1 year, and then one more English teacher, he’d moved from Basic to Honors English. And yeah, I broke the law and ignored his IEP, but overall, it helped him. Yeah, his writing was still bad, but he kept at it. That was a good bit about being a teacher.
6-10 Illegal things done for right reasons
06. I used to work at Starbucks. And we’re supposed to throw away the breakfast sandwiches after 2 days. Well I thought that was total bullsh*t. So I would put everything in a trash bag and throw it away like normal at the end of the night. But then as I left, I would take them and bring them to the homeless that would always congregate at the Safeway next to where I lived. They were very grateful, and eventually would know be my name. It was the most gratifying feeling.
07. I stole a bag of apples from the farmers market because I saw some kittens that looked hungry. I was 4 and thought kittens would like to eat apples. Also, I got caught and my mom paid for the apples.
08. When I was 11, I used to be friends with a kid who had drug addict parents and he was always hungry because his parents never bought food and spent all their money on drugs so being 11 with no money I used to steal food from the supermarket on the way to his house whenever I went over there. I’m glad I did it because it meant he got to eat a meal for the day and I’m lucky I was never caught.
09. My grandfather was in the hospital and was very close to dying. I was there for 2 days with him and needed to run home to grab some things and shower, so I drove home as fast as I could so I could get back.
On the return I was speeding again and got pulled over by a state trooper who was behind me the entire time, apparently I didn’t even see him. When he asked me why I was going so fast I told him what was going on and that I was sorry. He looked at my last name and said “is your grandfather George?”. Turns out he knew him – my grandfather was a fire chief for 27 years in the town next to the barracks – and told me to get to the hospital.
He could have easily given me a ticket, which I deserved…but let me go. My grandfather ended up passing later that day.
10. Here’s the story of how committing two crimes landed me a 6 figure job. So I’m living up in Northern British Columbia. That’s the area where it gets “fu*kin’ cold”. Like, -50 Celsius kind of cold. It’s winter time. We’ve been up there for a few months. It’s cold. I came there with my girlfriend at the time, her for a head start on some schooling through a university program, me because I’d decided to tag along and I’d heard stories about getting some of that ‘big boom oil money’ if you moved up North.
We were staying in a sh*tty little basement suite with a sh*tty landlord living above us. My girlfriend was doing the school thing, working part-time. I was working in the warehouse at Wal-Mart, looking for something bigger and better. My previous years as a warehouse manager got me an extra 25 cents an hour at Wal-Mart. Hell yeah, don’t let ’em tell you that experience doesn’t count for anything!
I digress. So the people that had lived next door to us had moved out and somebody had just moved in. I hadn’t met the person yet. Just noticed a new vehicle outside every couple of days. This particular day, there’s no vehicle in the driveway and I’m standing outside enjoying a cigarette as much as one can enjoy, one of those cursed things on a bitterly cold morning. I hear this sound. I can’t place it and I’m the type of guy who, when I hear something I can’t place, I have to place it. So I start looking around.
What is that? Like, a whooshing. Something spraying. What the fu*k would be spraying out here? I find the area it’s coming from, it’s the neighbor’s house, near the driveway. Something near there. He’s got a little deck running alongside the drive, I kind of peer over my own railing and see a water spigot attached to the underside of his deck. Beyond that, underneath the deck, the source of the sound, a geyser of water.
For those of you who’ve never lived somewhere it gets really, really cold, if you don’t turn the water off to your outside pipes, it freezes in there and then they burst. So that’s what happened here. Previous tenants had moved out, not shut off their pipes. New guy moves in, doesn’t notice.
So I go over to his driveway, look underneath the deck and he’s got a couple of those low basement windows. The kind right up against the ground and the water is building up and rising towards them. That could be a problem! So, I’m trying to think, how can I get in contact with this guy I’ve never met and tell him that his pipe has burst and is about to flood his new basement?
I’m humming and hawing and I think “Maybe, just maybe, his mailbox!” So that’s crime number one. I root through the mail and I luck out. Not only does he have mail already showing up at his house, it’s company mail. So now I know who he works for too! So, I call the company. It’s a big company and I go through a lot of automated stuff before I finally find a person to talk to and I let them know the address, guy’s name and so forth, give them my number and they tell me they’ll see if they can find him and get him to call me back.
Meanwhile, all that automated sh*t took some time “cause, which button do you push to say ‘Guy who lives here needs to come home now!”? Right? That water is still rising, it’s lapping up against his windows.
So I start poking around his doors to see if they’re open, maybe I can just get in and shut off his water. No luck, all locked up tight. No phone call yet, what to do, what to do? So I said, ‘Fu*k it.’
I start checking his windows. Front, all locked, side, all locked but the back window? The back window isn’t locked but it has one of these motherfu*kers on it and I know from previous experience being a stupid person and locking myself out of my own houses that if those aren’t snugged all the way up to the edge of the window and there’s a little, itty bitty gap you can slam a sliding window into ’em and they’ll just pop right off.
So, that’s what I do. I smashed that thing right out of there, slid his window open and climbed on in. I went down to the basement and I see water streaming down his walls and building a huge pool about to soak a big pile of electronics. We’re talking about the foundations of his man cave here. Guitars, amps, drums, big TV, consoles and all the rest. All in the process of being unpacked with a big ol’ freezing water catastrophe inching towards it.
I shut the water off, move his stuff and raid the place for towels and the like, get a mop, start cleaning. I get the call a few minutes later from the company saying “We’re sending some people to see if they can get into the house, Mr. So and So is out of town and won’t be back for days.” I tell them ‘Ok!’. A truck full of dudes show up and I give them the low down. I tell them what happened and they help me clean a bit and take off.
Well, let me tell you about this guy who lived there when he finally showed back up three days later. He loved me. He took me out, got me all sorts of drunk and during that evening asked me what I do for a living.
I told him my story of coming up North for the big bucks and falling short. He said “Why don’t you come work for the railroad?” and the rest is history. That’s how I found my career on the railroad. By breaking into my neighbor’s house. He was management. He got my name out there and said many a good thing about me.