Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Every so often while reading the morning newspaper, a small story tucked somewhere deep inside will make the biggest impression. Such was the case this morning when Item Three in Police Beat recapped the exploits of a serial shoplifter and his unlawful quest for SPAM.

Since I lack the investigative chops to dig deeper into the story, I'm left to speculate what brought this man to such a lowly fate.

What really threw me upon reading the report, and what is surely puzzling you now as well, is the unlikelihood that SPAM would be the target of a heist. Granted convenience stores aren’t exactly a cornucopia of fine foods. But it seems out of character for this potted meat stuff to be acquired in such manner.

What SPAM may lack in taste and Food Network cachet, it more than makes up for in salt-of-the-Earth appeal. It is the meal of necessity for pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps types, those honest folks who will go to any length, including eating SPAM, to provide for their brood. But it is unsuitable to criminals who seek to attain a higher standard of living without exerting the blood, sweat, and tears normally required to rise out of poverty.

Those who turn to crime usually set their sights a little higher up the meat chain. Knowing that incarceration will eventually reduce them to daily servings of gruel, they enjoy their fleeting freedom feasting on pilfered beef jerky or perhaps a nice can of sardines. Even Underwood Deviled Ham is a more likely target for cons on the lam looking to live it up on the outside.

I suppose some might look at this crime as an indictment on our present day society where even the lowliest of meat products are priced out of the reach of the lower class. But I'm not buying it.

Given the time that the incident went down, just before midnight on Super Bowl Sunday, it's clear that the accused wasn't scavenging for a meal to take home to his family who sat huddled and hungry upon a dirt floor, desperately awaiting their provider's return. If this were the case, I would lead the call for amnesty at once.

No, this was obviously a Seahawk fan making good on one of those non-monetary bets where the loser has to perform an absurd and reckless act. The Police Beat report doesn't provide details on his previous shoplifting charge, but I wouldn't be surprised if he were caught trying to stuff microwavable pork rinds down his pants shortly after the White Sox closed out Game Four of the World Series.

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