Here is a good question: If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Here is a better question: If you eat half a cake while wandering around a Walmart and no one sees you do it, should you have to pay for the whole thing?
This week, one woman in Wichita Falls, Texas, dared to ask this second, better question, and the answer, according to Walmart and local authorities, is a resounding No.
Per NBC News, police were called (dramatic, but okay) to the store around 8:10 p.m. on June 25. An employee told them that the woman, whose name has not been released, “had eaten half a cake and then said that she was only going to pay for the remaining half, claiming she had found it that way.”
The woman did not have any charges pressed against her, nor was she charged for the cake. She was, however, barred from the store.
“I don’t know if she got the whole cake,” Wichita Falls Police Sergeant Harold McClure told NBC News. “I don’t know if she left with the other half of it.”
Can something (half a cake) exist without being perceived (by Walmart staff)? Can we assume the unobserved world (eating a cake alone in a Walmart aisle) functions the same way as the observed world? Does observation (of someone eating a cake) affect outcome (having to pay for it)? And what exactly is going on Wichita Falls, where earlier this year, a different woman was banned from a different Walmart after she spent several hours driving around the parking lot on an empty scooter, and sipping wine from a Pringles can?
We may never know the answers to these questions. Regardless, I hope the woman was able to eat the rest of her cake.