Last month, we spoke to a woman named Alice* about her shoplifting habit, how she justifies it, and her reluctance to go on food stamps. And a lot of you responded to her story. Here's just a sample of some of the comments we got:
I grew up poor, but stealing was never the answer for my family. And I don't think it's the answer here either.
My moral core was grossed out.
This episode made me enraged. That's all.
It seemed like there was more to talk about here. So this week, we dug into your reactions with a couple of listeners who wrote to us after we released the episode. Alyssa, a listener from Atlanta, told us that she felt "betrayed" by the show. "This interview was so empty for me," she initially wrote us. "Alice was so openly selfish, I couldn't really believe you were giving her a voice bigger than she apparently already has on Tumblr. A platform to speak about her ridiculous lifestyle like it was something fascinating, something to be proud of. I couldn't tell why you had chosen her." Another listener in Brooklyn, Trevor, commented on a point Alice made about how her whiteness would help protect her from legal repercussions if she got caught. "Because of people like her," he wrote, "I am the one followed around the store."
I called Alyssa and Trevor to talk to them more about their reactions—and then, I called Alice.