I Want Your Mug (But I am not a thief)

Let me preface this post by emphatically claiming I am not a thief. Yes, I took a mannequin leg from a women’s stocking display in Dillards years ago…it was a great discussion piece in my living room. And yes, I recall taking a hand off another mannequin in Macy’s and using it to freak people out by placing it on their desks or on their car seats or in their refrigerators. And probably I took a giant acorn, painted gold, from a Christmas display once—the thing was as big as a baby’s head. I mean, who wouldn’t want one of those perched on their bookcase? I might have stuffed a fishing rod down my pant leg when I was a teen, then ambled stiff-legged out of the department store and headed to the town’s only fishing hole. But none of this was really thievery. Right? It was just innocent fun. So I repeat, I am not a thief.

With that fact established, I have a funny story to share. I had been working on a large landscape project in Cocoa Beach for several weeks. My client was remodeling some old apartments and turning them into vacation rentals. I had to do a complete property clean up, then install irrigation, pavers, decorative stone and plants. I worked like a fiend in order to meet my deadline. I wanted to show my client my amazing and varied skill set in hopes of getting hired for more jobs on his other properties.

It was an unusually hot February morning and although all the rental units were not ready for guests, a couple had been completed and were rented out. I walked to the back of the property where there was a spacious deck with chairs and tables scattered about. The ocean was right there—just a few hundred yards away. It was a beautiful and serene place and I loved working on the flower beds surrounding the deck.

I stopped to stare at the ocean for a moment and something colorful caught my eye. It was a row of five pastel-colored thermal mugs, sitting in a neat line on one of the railings that surrounded the deck. I walked over to the mugs and noticed they had names engraved on them. How curious, I mused. One of the mugs—an eggshell color—was engraved with my name! My client had purchased t

Let me preface this post by emphatically claiming I am not a thief. Yes, I took a mannequin leg from a women’s stocking display in Dillards years ago…it was a great discussion piece in my living room. And yes, I recall taking a hand off another mannequin in Macy’s and using it to freak people out by placing it on their desks or on their car seats or in their refrigerators. And probably I took a giant acorn, painted gold, from a Christmas display once—the thing was as big as a baby’s head. I mean, who wouldn’t want one of those perched on their bookcase? I might have stuffed a fishing rod down my pant leg when I was a teen, then ambled stiff-legged out of the department store and headed to the town’s only fishing hole. But none of this was really thievery. Right? It was just innocent fun. So I repeat, I am not a thief.

With that fact established, I have a funny story to share. I had been working on a large landscape project in Cocoa Beach for several weeks. My client was remodeling some old apartments and turning them into vacation rentals. I had to do a complete property clean up, then install irrigation, pavers, decorative stone and plants. I worked like a fiend in order to meet my deadline. I wanted to show my client my amazing and varied skill set in hopes of getting hired for more jobs on his other properties.

It was an unusually hot February morning and although all the rental units were not ready for guests, a couple had been completed and were rented out. I walked to the back of the property where there was a spacious deck with chairs and tables scattered about. The ocean was right there—just a few hundred yards away. It was a beautiful and serene place and I loved working on the flower beds surrounding the deck.

I stopped to stare at the ocean for a moment and something colorful caught my eye. It was a row of five pastel-colored thermal mugs, sitting in a neat line on one of the railings that surrounded the deck. I walked over to the mugs and noticed they had names engraved on them. How curious, I mused. One of the mugs—an eggshell color—was engraved with my name! My client had purchased the mugs for all of us and had our names engraved on them! How thoughtful! What a wonderful way to acknowledge all our diligent and hard work, and recognize each one of us by name! I gently wrapped the mug that said “Lisa” and took it home.

The next morning, I arrived on the job site early and headed to the deck to water my new plants. There I met some lovely women from St. Louis. They were some of our first guests, renting one of the finished units. I sat and talked with them for a while. They were interested in renting a unit again next year and were inquisitive about the area. I rattled off a bunch of things they could do and see in Cocoa Beach, encouraging them to return.

As I prepared to head back to work one of the women asked me if I considered the area safe. She wanted to know about the establishment’s security and such.

“This area is very safe,” I assured her. “Why do you ask?”

She went on to explain that there had been five thermal mugs she had purchased for her friends and she had set them atop the rail to take a photo. She went inside for a few minutes and upon her return noticed, with dismay, one of the mugs had gone missing.

I was mortified…for the briefest of instances I considered lying. But I had no time. My face was burning red and I squirmed in my chair.

“I’m guessing someone here is named Lisa,” I stammered. All five of the women looked at me simultaneously, mouths agape.

“I am,” one of them blurted.

Our eyes met and I mumbled, “Me too.” As if that would explain everything…and of course it didn’t.

I shifted in my chair, frantically searching for a way out of this awkward mess. But there was none.

“I took the mug,” I stated. “I thought it was for me. I thought it was a gift from my boss.” There was silence for a moment, then the women started giggling. I was so relieved! They understood that I wasn’t a thief. It was an innocent mistake.

As the laughter petered out one of the women spoke up.

“No, but really. Why would anyone steal a mug with the name “Lisa” on it?”

I swallowed hard. This was crazy. They thought I was joking.

“I’m Lisa! I swear! I took the mug. Honestly. I thought it was for me. It’s at home. I really took it. I’m serious!”

The laughter began again. I felt like I was trapped in the Twilight Zone.  So I started describing the mug to them. I added every detail I could think of. It was eggshell-white. It was thermal. It had the name “Lisa” inscribed on it in a cursive typeface. The laughter stopped. Now I had their attention. I took advantage of the silence.

“I’ll bring it back tomorrow before you leave. I swear. I’m not a thief.”

“You’re serious, aren’t you?” Lisa said.

“Serious as a heart attack,” I answered.

Well, I gave the mug back, but not before filling it with Easter candy as an act of contrition. And no matter how embarrassing the whole mess was, I afelt privileged to have met five wonderful, kind and good-humored women from St. Louis. I was proud of myself for returning the mug, because as I said, I am not a thief. But to be honest, I still want it. And next year when these five great women return for a visit, it would be best for them to leave the mug behind, or lock it in a safe, or hide it under the bed. Things have a way of disappearing when I’m around. Nobody can explain it. It’s an enigma. An anomaly. One day we’ll figure it out. But for now I sit contentedly among my mannequin appendages, my fishing pole and over-sized acorn, sipping coffee from an old beat up cup, dreaming of that lovely thermal mug with my name etched in it. Who knows? Even though I’m not a thief, maybe one day that mug will disappear again, and I’ll be lucky enough to “find” it. Possession is nine tenths of the law, right?

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