Johnny knew it was wrong but what the heck. He was going to steal the spark plugs, not so much because he needed them, but because they were there and the garage shop assistant was looking the other way. He gave one furtive glance to make sure the coast was clear and then he whipped the packet of spark plugs from the accessories shelf, quickly pulled his jacked back and wriggled them down the waistband of his jeans. His heart was pounding as he approached the till to pay for the petrol that he had just put into his car. Have they seen me? he wondered. Stepping from the shop, he walked towards the car that was parked alongside the petrol pump. His pregnant wife was sitting in the passenger seat.
Johnny had spent his life stealing. Nothing big, you understand, just small things. It started off with sweets when he was a kid, filching Mars bars or anything else that was in the confectionery tray on the counter of the shop. He had never been caught. Someday someone would catch him. Until that day came he would continue to filch small items from shops or wherever, depending on the opportunity and the risk.
Sitting behind the driver’s wheel he pulled out the spark plugs and tucked them down by his side.
“Where did you get those?” his wife asked
“I took them from the garage shop,” Johnny replied.
“Why take them when you don’t need them?” She seemed genuinely perplexed.
Johnny didn’t know what to say. The question was brutally frank. He felt guilty and ashamed. Why did I take them when I don’t need them? he asked himself.
“Don’t you think you should take them back?” his wife said, a look of bewilderment on her face.
Johnny could tell she was upset. He sat there thinking for a moment. He knew he had done wrong. His wife knew he had done wrong. He didn’t want to disappoint her. He loved her more than anything. Knowing that she was hurt really worried him.
“You’re right. I’ll take them back right now.”
Johnny tucked the packet of spark plugs down the waistband of his trousers and covered it with his jacket. Stepping out of the car, he walked back into the garage shop and casually ambled to the aisle where the car accessories were. Again he looked furtively around, waiting until the assistant was busy with another customer before quickly pulling the spark plugs from his waistband and placing them back on the shelf. He then casually stepped back out of the shop.
Slipping into his car, he put the key in the ignition. “I put them back …” His wife smiled. He felt good knowing that she was pleased. He felt good knowing that he had done something right. Johnny never stole anything else from that day onwards. Replacing those spark plugs had changed his life. But it was his wife that had really made the change. She was an innocent, guileless woman who had merely pointed out his mistake.
Starting the car up, he smiled as he drove the rest of the journey home. Johnny was transformed that night. He had emerged from the crusty chrysalis of petty theft into a butterfly of honesty.