Have you ever gotten something for free?

I have.  Aside from all the gifts from parents and friends over the years, I have gotten a couple of things for free.  And I’m not talking about anything related to “sticky fingers.”

The first thing that comes to mind is walking out of a local grocery store one evening.  After unloading the contents of my cart in the car I went to return the cart.  When I pushed the cart into the return rack, I noticed something sitting on the bottom rack of another cart.  It was evening and dark outside, so I looked closer.  It was a twelve pack of beer.  Yes a twelve pack, not half a case, but beer arranged in a carton that was essentially two six pack cartons in a row.  It was a thing a while ago.  I’m also ashamed to say the beer was Bud Light.  But it was at a time in my youth when my tastes was a bit immature, so no shame there.  I looked around expecting someone to be walking towards the cart return, but the parking lot was empty.  Free beer is always good.  But free beer as a poor college student is even better.  So I took it.  While drinking it I figured if the person went back, the store would just cough up a free 12 pack for them, so it was probably going to be on the store instead of the individual, so I didn’t feel much guilt.

But as with everything, including taste, things do mature.  So flash forward to just a couple of days ago when I was making a rare visit to a local McDonald’s (It’s only a couple of trips a month as a treat for my kid).  We were in line at a “dual” (two lanes) drive thru (English words can’t even have abbreviations that make sense, throo would be more accurate), placed our the order and moved forward.  Another car had just finished their order and started to pull forward, but stopped.  I let him move in front of me.  When we got to the first window to pay, the nice young lady said the car in front of us had accidentally (I think she used the this term, but I’m not absolutely sure) paid for our order.

As I looked in front of us, to the next window, the other car was still there.  My reaction was to inform the person that she could still catch them as the other car was still there.  I forget her exact response, but to paraphrase, she essentially said, “…no, you don’t understand, the order was paid for, just drive forward and get it.”  Eventually I figured out that’s what she was saying, so I did.

It was about $14 of free food.  And as an adult and parent, the first thing I thought, or rather felt, was guilt.  I didn’t feel that youthful excitement and joy I’d experienced as youth with the beer.  OK, I did just a little bit, but then that turned into a fear of food poisoning.

Categories: Thoughts