Assuaging 50¢ Worth Of Guilt

I had a day off of work yesterday, and thought it might be a good idea to renew the registration on my car (which expired…ummm…six months ago). Off to the DMV I went.

When I got there, I stopped by the newspaper box in front of the building to grab some reading material. After all, I could easily wind up being there for an hour or two. I was about to pop two quarters in the box, when I noticed the door was ever-so-slightly ajar. I tried the door, and 'lo, it opened. Score! Free newspaper!

90 minutes later, I’m driving home with my newspaper on the seat next to me, when it hit me. That paper wasn’t free…I stole it. No two ways around it. I took something that I’m required to pay for, without paying for it. This was a fully ill-gotten newspaper.

While my 50 cents probably represents 0.0000001% of Gannett Co., Inc’s profit margin, the box was probably privately owned, and I screwed some small businessman out of his profits.

Now, I’m in a quandary. The paper is sitting next to me, mocking me with its stories of rampant crime and theft. Nine years of Catholic school is nagging at the back of my brain to make this right. Trouble is, I can’t figure out how to do so. Going back to that newspaper box isn’t really an option, as it’s roughly 20 miles out of my way. I could go to a store today, pay for two copies of the paper and only take one, but then my money goes to someone uninvolved. Better than nothing, but I dunno…

So, I’ll leave it to you good folks. I have on my desk four shiny new quarters (I’m assigning myself an extra 50 cents of penance). Where does my dollar go?

Tip a local paperboy/girl?

Well, even if it is 20 miles out of your way, I say go back to the original box and pay for two papers and take one. The time and gas will be your penance. Nothing else will make up for the 50 cents you cost the operator of that box. Of course, if his box is broken and he’s losing multiple copies a day, he needs to fix it himself.

Wait, this is the **Hal Briston **who unleashes Great White Saber-Tooth Rattleantulidilluphineoasauruses on unsuspecting Dopers? The same **Hal Briston **who obviously has no conscience, never mind a soul?

I’m impressed.

Do you happen to remember the name of the store in front of which the paper machine was? If so, write them a note and enclose your quarters. Confession is good for the soul.

If you don’t remember, I second Velma’s suggestion, in spirit: commit a random act of kindness. Over-tip someone, or make a loud jingle in a homeless person’s cup. Surprise yourself with your generosity; your heart is obviously in the right place.

I say keep the paper. The information it holds is important. And in a world were every other soda or snack machine takes your money, a freebie from a $.50 newspaper counts as a little victory in the war of man vs. machine. :stuck_out_tongue:

Give $10 to the Poor as Penance,
and Go And Sin No More, My Son.

I third it…

Or just keep it. You probably paid for it in some other way. I don’t believe in over-the-top karma, but I do think you should just enjoy the little rewards life sends your way.

First, you’d best find out if said store is operating that box, or is getting rent for the space it gives to the Gannett Co. to place the box there.

Such an arrangement is rare, however. Ususally, the newspaper company pays a licensing fee to place its boxes on public property, i.e., on a sidewalk next to the curb.

In other words, you most likely stiffed Gannett, not the store that was closest to the box.

Finally, if the newspaper you stole was USA Today, you have already been punished! :smiley:

People pay for USA Today? <shocked>

As for the newsrack - if it was broken, it’s not your fault that it wouldn’t lock.

Ah, but it was his fault for taking it without paying for it. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

The next time you buy a paper, put $.50 in the box, open the door, then close it without getting a paper. Now you are square with Gannet.

Technically speaking you’re not even stiffing Gannet. Papers make the money on advertising not papers sold. The distribution of the paper (ie how wide it’s adudience is) allows them to set their advertising rates. FTR, you can get a really good deal for paper delivery, I pay about $20 for a year.

Ok, I’ve found my solution:

I put the quarters back in my pocket, and got a dollar bill. I went to the Asbury Park Press web site and searched around until I found the name of the person who seems to be the lowest-ranking staff member listed. I then mailed it to her at the office address listed, along with a note saying simply “I apologize for any inconvenience. Signed, Hal”.

There…my guilt is now assuaged, and as a bonus, I can count on confusing total stranger.

So it’s a win-win! :smiley:

Wow, pretty cool solution! :smiley:

The potential double bonus is if that random schlub turns out to be a Doper, then we get a “Some :wally sent me a dollar” thread, and Hal waves his hand wildly, yelling, “ME! It was ME!” snif I love happy endings. :stuck_out_tongue:

“In the circle of liiiiiiiiife…”

Next time try self-flagellation.

With the newspaper?
Oh, great…now I’ve got a Dondi inkprint on my back…everyone will know of my crimes…:::::runs off in tears:::::

For some reason, I am reminded of one of the best scenes in the movie “Roxanne”, with Steve Martin. It was a throwaway scene, adding nothing whatsoever to the storyline, but I loved it.

Martin’s character, C.D. Bales, is walking along and sees a newspaper rack. He puts in his change and gets a paper. He takes a couple of steps, reading the paper, then begins shrieking – obviously upset at something in the paper. He hurriedly digs more change from his pocket, puts it into the rack, opens it up, and stuffs the paper back in. Then he puts his hands in his pockets and walks away calmly.