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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Last Saturday Tim Haywood posted a hilarious entry about “free stuff” on his blog “Shallow Pond.” In keeping with his theme I want to thank him for so helpfully sparing me the burden of originality. It’s not stealing, honest. It fell off a truck.

Tim’s description of people giving out free product samples on Seattle’s streets reminded me of my utter inability to resist anything handed out by anyone. Every year I come home from the Auto/Flower/Home/Remodeling/Boat show with one shoulder permanently lowered due to schlepping a bag full of free tires/potting soil/composite shingles/tide tables. I have no use for any of these items. Why do I take them? In the words of the late mountain climber George Mallory, may his mummified remains rest in peace on Everest’s frozen slopes, “Because it’s there.”

But the ne plus ultra of swag remains Costco. While my husband wanders the aisles gazing lovingly at generators, drill bits and 500-packs of AA batteries, I circle in the holding pattern around the the food-sample stations. Like a cheetah stalking a Thompson’s gazelle in the Serengeti, I crouch in the underbrush of tall customers, shopping carts piled high with flank steaks, underwear and 50-gallon vats of mustard, and strollers with sleeping babies. Narrowing my eyes at an opening, I spring through and snatch a toothpick-speared chicken nugget, retreating back into the crowd to devour my prey.

I repeat this process for the entire afternoon. Steve finds me at intervals. “Look! These Dockers are five pairs for $25!” “Mmmph,” I reply though a mouthful of cheesecake, my attention entirely focused on a plastic-gloved server whose pizza rolls are just about ready to come out of the toaster oven.

I’ve tried interesting Steve in this bounty, but he resolutely turns up his nose at my proffered samples of camembert and Kashi. “Let me know when there’s beer,” he replies.

That evening, while we’re unloading pallets of cat food and toilet paper, Steve asks what I want for dinner. Strangely I’m not hungry.

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