I work for FedEx Ground. For those of you who are not familiar with FedEx Ground, we are the only major competition for UPS' large ground and overnight shipping business. My particular job involves the unloading of packages onto a conveyor belt, either from a pallet or from a trailer. My official, and unfortunate, job title is "package handler." The account that follows is one of a fateful day in which my skills as a thief were put to a rather simple test.
One day last summer, I believe in the month of June, I was working on a trailer near the end of the day. This trailer was only about half full, with the boxes stacked neatly into walls that came to just above my waist. A rather gangly young man of about the same age as myself (22) was working alongside me in this particular trailer.
We were moving at a steady pace, slinging boxes down a set of metal rollers that connected to the conveyer, so as to make long trailers such as this one much easier to unload, when I finally took note of the words printed on the side of the boxes. They read as follows;
AMERICAN FLAG TIN
MADE IN CHINA
I stopped dead in my tracks and immediately busted out laughing. The young man unloading to my right stopped and looked across the rollers at my body, which by this time was doubled over in laughter, as I muttered almost unintelligably about how great I thought this discovery was. After a moment I regained my composure and righted myself. He had fixed me with a very quizzical gaze that seemed to say "What in the hell is so damn funny?" Now, this man was a Christian, and had long ago found that I was an Atheist, so perhaps this difference in our theological classification was the reason the humor of this particular instance was lost on him, but I suspect it was just because he was a rather simple young man. Despite this, I tried to explain.
"You see," I said, "I believe that inside this box are mints, with Biblical scripture printed on them, packaged inside an American Flag Tin."
He gazed still, as a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck, unable to move, transfixed by the confusing, burning light of WIT and ERUDITION barreling down upon him.
"Okay, here's why it's funny," I began my explanation. "These mints, with Biblical Scripture printed on them, in a tin emblazoned with the banner of this United States, were made and packaged in China, a Communist and Daoist country."
At this, he gave me a half-cocked smile of recognition, a slight chuckle, and then went to grab another box. This is when I got the wild idea to commit a federal offense.
"I'm taking one," I said, "watch the door." He looked over at me and in that moment saw that I was serious, so he watched the door. I simply cut open the tape on the top of one box and looked inside. There, in all it's chromatic glory, was a tin with our American flag on it. On one side was the refrain from "God Bless America" and on the other, the Pledge of Allegiance, pre-Atheist lawsuit version. Inside this tin, in a sealed plastic bag, were the mints, complete with Christian scripture printed on the packaging of each individual one. Later, when I had the mints home, I noticed that the scripture was rife with typoes. Now, I was not so stupid to think that I could smuggle this whole cumbersome hunk of metal out without being caught, so I took the mints out of the tin and stuffed them into my pocket, replaced the tin in the box, turned the box over so nobody would notice it had been opened, and sent it on down the rollers.
Thirty minutes later, in the parking lot, seated behind the driver's seat of my car, I removed my prize from my right pocket, tossed them into the passenger's seat, and made for home.
That guy quit two weeks later and I never heard from him again. He was a good kid, and every time I look at that pack of mints, and think back to that day, I wonder if he ever figured out why it was so damn funny.