Saturday, September 17, 2011
It's not crap. It's stuff.
I've learned that, when spotting a crowd congregating on the shallow horizon, people have gathered for one of the following reasons:
1) Someone has put out a donation can and has set up shop juggling flaming honey baked hams.
2) The remaining two original members of Styx have been spotted and are signing autographs before boarding their tour bus after a pleasant lunch at Cheesecake Factory.
3) Somebody is handing out free stuff.
Yesterday, on the way to my bus stop, a sizable clump of humanity blocked my path homeward. Individuals randomly broke off from the gaggle, clutching large wads of plastic packets in each hand. I arduously sidestepped the crowd and finally surmised that small packages of dry cat food were being distributed out of the back of a colorful van.
I'm sure the stuff provided a highly tasty treat for that favorite fuzzy feline, and god forbid that people would resort to it for their personal nourishment, but most of those I witnessed were well dressed working whiteys who confiscated so much cat food that they had to form hammocks with their shirts and tie them up a la Daisy Duke.
Free goods make us different people. If we cruise by a table selling dehydrated sea bass and aspic bars for three cents each, we'd barely stifle a spontaneous gag and accelerate past the scene—I'm not paying three cents for that swill.
If they were free, however, we'd not hesitate to grab ten of them, plus the complimentary "Sea Basseroles for Dummies" booklet.
As always, I'm not above a robust lust for free swag. Every time I pass the supply closet at work, I scoop up a couple of Post-It pads, because, hey, when's the next time I'll be down on the third floor? Could be days. And since I use one Post-It note every twenty-seven days, my children and grandchildren will need not worry about their re-attachable sticky paper requirements. Ever.
I am a provider.
Pens are similar. When was the last time you completely spent the ink from a pen, tossed it away and proclaimed, "Time for a fresh pen. Goodbye, my friend." I think I've done this three times.
It's amazing that pens are still manufactured. You'd think that, by now, we've left them so in many different places that they could just be noticed, picked up and used like bicycles in Amsterdam.
So much other free stuff that we snag up seems so good at the time, yet ends up just occupying space: Plastic stadium cups (which need to be stored sideways since they're too tall to stand up in the cabinet), tote bags (which usually are stored inside a tote bag with other tote bags) and condiments (mustard and soy sauce) are the clutterers of our existence.
Those free t-shirts can feel like a total score in the heat of the moment, especially when a furry mascot shoots one from a cannon, it bounces off an elderly woman, lands in the lap of an armless veteran and we manage to wrestle it away for the privilege of unrolling an XXL garment which reads, "Compassion: Pass it on. And Drink Bud Light."
Okay, that's it. I'm not going to pursue free crap anymore.
Unless it's some type of chips.