April 1997

“Suspect,” New Era, Apr. 1997, 14


With his weird hair and tattered clothes, he was the prime …

A trickle of sweat ran down Jake’s crazy hair onto his forehead. “It’s getting hot,” Jake said as the sun beat in the windows of the doughnut shop.

I agreed as I rang up one last customer before my break. Jake agreed to cover the register so I could head to the break room for a cold soda. The manager was sitting quietly across from me.

“Say, Anita,” he said. “I know you’ve only been here a few weeks, but you’re the type I can trust, aren’t you?”


“Money was taken from the register last week. This has happened several times in the last few months. I’ve talked to a few other employees, and they suspect Jake. He’s the type.”

I nodded. “If I were to guess who took the money, I’d guess him.”

“I think I’m going to fire him,” the manager said.

My break ended, and I was back to work. That evening Jake and I folded boxes. Jake tried talking to me as usual, but all I could think about was the stolen money. Every time I looked at his weird, dyed hair or tattered black clothes, two words kept coming to mind: punker and thief.

“Customer,” Jake said suddenly. He looked up at the clock. “This should be the last customer.”

“Thank goodness,” I mumbled.

I packed the woman’s doughnuts and rang up the order. “That will be $3.39,” I said.

The woman handed me a five. Then a sick feeling hit me. I had forgotten to ring up the special price we were having that day.

“My change?” the woman asked.

I instinctively handed her the change and tried to smile. As she drove away, I felt terrible. I should have given her the sale price.

I turned to find Jake standing behind me. “You didn’t ring up the special.”

“I know. I should have.”

Jake pushed back a strand of his hair, then picked up his jacket. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said. Then he paused a moment. “You can make it up to her. She comes in all the time.”

After Jake left, I thought about what he’d been called that day, and yet he had encouraged me to be honest. Could he have really taken the money?

The next day I couldn’t keep my mind on work. I knew I’d been wrong about Jake, and I had to set things right. I kept hearing in my mind the scripture “Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged: but judge righteous judgment” (JST, Matt. 7:1).

At break time, I went to talk to the manager.

“What do you need?” he asked.

“It’s about Jake,” I said.

“No time for that right now,” he said. “We’ve just about caught our thief. I’ve been on the phone with several angry customers and the police department this morning. It seems one of our employees has been altering checks as well.”

“And it’s not Jake?”

“Not unless he’s got blond hair and blue eyes. That’s the description everyone is giving. Now you’d better get back to work.”

When I got back to the counter, I was smiling. I said to myself, Remember this day every time you try to judge someone.

“What are you smiling about?” Jake asked.

“Oh, I guess I’m just glad to be working here.”

“Why would you be glad for that?”

“I’ve learned a lot so far.”

“What can you possibly learn in a doughnut shop?”

“You’d be surprised,” I answered.

Illustrated by Bryan Lee Shaw