a fine line.

So, there’s this gas station that I go to nearby work–prices are fairly reasonable and it’s the least out-of-the-way place outside of Camden (there’s one station in Camden; they don’t display their prices on a large sign like every other place I’ve ever been so you don’t realize they’re 10 cents higher than the local/national average until it’s too late). Another plus is that the service is good and the men who work there are all very nice.

One way that they try to implement “above and beyond” customer service is to have a designated day where they offer free candy to customers. I’ve come to realize this day is Wednesday because it always happens this is the point in the week that my light comes on and I finally begrudgingly go out of my way to get gas (I love how I’m unwittingly a creature of habit simply because I am too willing/stubborn to realize that I continuously set myself up for the same frustrations…But at least I have a routine, right?)

So, 9 times out of 10, I find myself at this particular gas station on “free candy” day.

At first I thought this was sweet/charming, until I realized I didn’t really want this candy. I’m not trying to be judgmental, but I really don’t want an off-brand lollipop that’s been crammed in the dirty jeans of some dude who’s been busting his ass all day, running from car to car to grease shop (the place is connected to a garage). When you think about it, there is only a very thin layer of cellophane separating his workday from my mouth.

Beyond that, I’ve noticed that they are selective when it comes to free candy day. Not all customers get this luxury. Just today, for example, I was waiting behind two large men in a busted up car who were using handkerchiefs as doo-rags. The man who pumped his gas and mine didn’t even bother to ask that customer if he wanted a lollipop. But when he came to hand me my receipt, I got not one, but two lollies (I guess to compensate for the guy in front of me…?). This is kind of funny, but also creepy. What about me says I’d be willing to accept candy from strangers? Is it because I’m younger? A female? The fact I smiled and said hello? That I say “please” and “thank you”? What are the determining factors? How am I being profiled?

I’m sure I could easily say “no thank you,” but I don’t want to be rude to them and I do think their efforts are sweet, if still odd. This is probably one of my biggest character flaws: for as much of a pain in the ass/loudmouth I can be, there are so many painfully awkward situations I allow to drag out because I’m too concerned about how the other person will feel if I speak up.

So instead of potentially embarrassing anyone by not accepting this weekly “gift,” I ride around with these damn lollipops in my car, usually for a week or so, too guilty to throw them out, too aware of where they’ve been to eat one, and too polite to pass them along to the next unknowing person.

So tell me, dear reader, what would you do in this situation??

4 thoughts on “a fine line.

  1. Probably the same as you. Just take them and get rid of them later. Mostly because if it makes them feel better about being nice to someone, and they aren’t a person you really know, you might as well do the easy thing and make them happy by taking it. But you’re right, it is kind of weird.

  2. I would keep doing that polite thing and accepting them, butI would feel NO guilt about immediately throwing them in the trash.

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