It occurred to me while I was shoveling heavy layers of chicken poop for the second day, that this little chore would make a great community service requirement for some miscreant. Other than me. I could almost guarantee there would be no repeat offenders if the sentence included cleaning out chicken coops after a long, wet winter. And how about untangling a mass of poultry netting? Would some purse-snatcher, staring at a Coach bag dangling temptingly from a shoulder consider going another round with the mass-of-poultry-netting-from-hell worth the chance? I think not. Considering pinching that doodad from the store? How does a sentence of 500 hours of cat-washing grab you? I am sure we could come up with a list of penalties that would turn around the criminal mind.
I have a very vivid memory of what deterred me from my life of crime. Yes, I was headed down that murky path at a very young age. I sashayed over to our nearest local store - another one of those walkabouts that drove my poor mother mad with worry - I must have been around nine. I didn't have the concept of money down yet, although I did have a small allowance, so I meandered up and down the two aisles of the little store and helped myself to a piece of bubble gum. The store owner saw me, grabbed me by the arm and called my parents (after he threatened to call the coppers!) My mother came with a neighbor who had a car and there was some very stern talking-to, thinly veiled threats, and tearful promises from me to walk the straight and narrow, after forking over my one cent for the purloined gum. I remember the store owners as a kind and friendly couple, so I can only imagine that this "show" was for my benefit. And it worked. To this day, I a) cannot stomach bubble gum, and b) break into a cold sweat at the sight of a police car.