This week, on the “(Is It) Good for the Jews?” podcast …
Larry Rosen: Let me tell you a little story about this weekend. I, the guy you see in front of you, was accused of theft!
Eric Goldbrener: By who?
LR: A little old lady who runs a convenience store in North Beach.
EG: (outraged) How did this happen?
LR: Let me lay it on you. Sunday, my wife has plans to work on the yard. I’ve got to get out of this, so I tell her, “OK, after I take a walk.”
EG: Now understand that when Larry takes a walk, it takes all day.
LR: I’m a big walker. So off I go. I take BART downtown. It’s a nice day, I’m walking, I’m seeing tourists, everything’s great. I actually walk over Telegraph Hill.
EG: That’s an ambitious walk.
LR: But before this, I go into a little store on Sansome and buy a bottle of water. I crest Telegraph Hill and come down the other side and think, “You know, it’s Sunday, I’m going to treat myself to a Coke.”
EG: Oooh. Now you’re living!
LR: I go into this store I used to go to when we lived in North Beach, grab a Coke, start walking up to the front, but there’s a woman with a huge basket of groceries there. Overflowing. I don’t want to wait in line, so I put the Coke back and walk out. I go down the street to another store and get my Coke. As I’m standing there, the proprietor of the first place appears in the door, points at my water and shouts, “You took that!”
EG: She accuses you of stealing?
LR: The woman said, “You stole that!”
EG: No way.
LR: True. I was shocked, but calm. I said, “That woman was not telling you the truth.” I point out that the water is half gone. Could I have drank it that fast? “I’m sorry. She’s not telling you the truth.”
EG: But how could she know? It’s your word against hers.
LR: Exactly. And I’m thinking, well, if she calls the cops, if she’s had it with middle-aged Jewish men stealing very small items from her store then walking a block and buying beverages at the nearest store out of spite, I guess I’ll have to walk them back over the hill to the other place, where I bought the water. And at this point, mind you, we don’t even know if this lady’s store even stocks this brand of water!
EG: I hadn’t thought of that. So how’d you get out of it?
LR: She looked at me for a long time, and I could tell from her expression she was thinking, “I know he took it, but there’s nothing I can do about it.” So there I am, entitled white guy, walking around, stealing water bottles for sport. It felt terrible.
EG: It is terrible!
LR: I considered going back and just giving her a couple of bucks.
EG: You’ve got to let that stuff bounce off you.
LR: I felt terrible. She went home, 16 hours at work, and told her husband, “Work was terrible today. Some guy came in and stole a water for fun and there was nothing I could do about it.”
EG: Why didn’t you tell her you tried to buy a Coke, ran into a roadblock and came down here to this store? And why? Because she’s not running her business effectively! And as further evidence of her lack of proprietary know-how, who’s watching the register while she’s chasing you down the street over an alleged theft of a bottle of water?
LR: Who’s minding the store?
EG: Who’s watching your store as you accuse me based on the assertion of some sketchy bag lady?
LR: She wasn’t a bag lady. I don’t think. But yeah!
EG: Now I’m mad.
LR: I guess I was acting suspiciously. But why would I steal a bottle of water and then walk down the street and buy a Coke? She thinks I’m a person who’d steal water for sport.
EG: She doesn’t know you.
LR: Do I look like someone who’d steal a bottle of water?
EG: How dare she accuse you based on hearsay! I’ll tell you what that is.
EG: It’s anti-Semitism, pure and simple.
LR: That’s bad for the Jews.