Sunday, July 5, 2009

Stealing Apples

I was in the Apple Store in Ft. Worth last week having my laptop looked at. It was around noon and the store was packed with people. Besides being generally crowded, there was also a separate long line of folks waiting to purchase the new iPhone 3GS.

All of a sudden the store alarm began to blare. I looked toward the front of the store and three or four guys probably in their late teens were running away from the building at top speed. One employee looked at the table where the iPhones were kept and confirmed that the bandits had made off with some of the prized merchandise. The thieves were wearing shirts that mimicked those of the Apple Store employees.

I've never been present during a robbery like this. It seemed so random. Thoughts and feelings raced through my head. First, there was confusion. Were those guys all thieves, or was one or more an Apple Store employee chasing the thief(ves)? Then there was anger. How dare they come into a crowded store and rip the place off! After that, strategizing. Do I have enough speed to catch them? Can I even run in these sandals? What if they're armed? Why couldn't I have been closer to the door to at least trip them? I kept my eyes on them as they made their getaway, but eventually lost sight of them among cars in the parking lot across the street.

Eventually, when I left, I noticed that one guy was being escorted by an employee back to the store: handcuffed. At least they got one of them, I thought to myself.

Driving away, I pondered the utter stupidity of these young men, and lamented that more Black youth were headed down the road of crime and self-destruction. Was this the kind of life they dreamed of as young boys? What kind of input, if any, did their fathers have in their lives? What will it take to turn them around?

Today at my church, a man shared about the jail ministry he's involved with at the Dallas County Jail. He said that the jail officials have been so impressed with how inmates' lives have been changed that his ministry is being given a wide open door to work with inmates in a new wing that's opening. Having ministered at Monroe County Jail in Rochester, NY, my interest was piqued. I talked to the man briefly after the service and asked him how I could get more information.

Maybe my being present during the robbery wasn't so random after all.

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