This piece first appeared on Lancaster Despatch Box.
By Dan Morrison.
My chillies have been, we shall say, appropriated. One sandwich bag full of fiery goodness missing, and as quickly as I could replace them with another batch of homegrown spicy delights, the consequent supply had nipped off to a place I will probably never know of and possibly never really want to know of either. No housemate knows of their whereabouts. No cleaner has tidied them away. So what now? Do I accuse them of theft?
Clearly, I think that they have been stolen, given the evidence. Having turned my already sub-tidy room upside down (obviously only literally) and rummaged through every kitchen cupboard, they are nowhere to be seen. The chillies’ ability to elope is certainly limited, so why am I unable to accuse somebody, anybody, of stealing them, to their face?
In day to day life, if we disagree with somebody or we are offended by another person’s comments, we do not hesitate to condemn their personal character to the waste bin of history and utter those damning words ‘I think you are wrong.’ We will do this regardless of whether we have evidence to support our claim, or without considering if we might have been a bit over-sensitive. Often, we construct our case there and then as battle commences, under the influence of the inevitable adrenaline that comes when we politely suggest our adversary could be mistaken. Alternatively, we have all been called ‘wrong’ at some point, and survived to tell the tale. How so many of us have recovered from being called incorrect, I will never know. It’s testament to the strength of humanity’s moral fibre.
Given the accusations we make against others on a daily or weekly basis, I wonder why it is so difficult make an accusation of theft. Maybe dubbing a fellow human, whether we have a particular suspect or not, a ‘petty thief’ is just one of those unmentionable terms that society bounds us not to make.
My chillies were lost to the world on Friday, and it is safe to say that the unmistakeable buzz felt when realising they had gone has worn off. Time has allowed me to formulate a coherent argument as to why they are no longer in my possession. Yet, despite this, my tongue is unable to produce a sentence accusing another of stealing the chillies. Does time lead me to doubt my judgement? Or am I also reluctant to doubt my brethren’s honesty?
The student kitchen is a complex network of trust, co-operation and sharing, the glue holding all this together being an adhesive made often from coffee, cake and love (ahhh). In a kitchen where a simple query into the prospect of using another’s utensil can open up a world of untold opportunity, ‘chilli-gate’ has unknowable consequences. Let’s hope this saga does not rumble on for too long.
While I wade through this bog of morality, it does not seem like I will get any closer to finding my chillies, nor the dastardly being whom assumed control of my spicy treats. I have reported the incidents to my dean, although I did not go as far as mentioning the S-word. As for who took them, I have a suspect in mind, although even then it seems as implausible as it is plausible. If any one of you is stronger than I am, and has experience in laying the blame for theft at another’s door, come and find me. I will make you a coffee.