Friday, April 9, 2010

On the House

I think you’re either the kind of person that goes for all the free food samples at the market or you’re not. Given the chance, my husband could happily survive on the offerings from the product demonstration tables at Costco. I get unbearably self conscious walking by the Sample Bar at Trader Joe’s. I can’t even make eye contact with the guy in the Hawaiian shirt handing out the plastic shot glasses jammed with mushroom turnovers.

It was against my Gram Melva’s principals to snub a freebie. During a Mother’s Day weekend trip in 1997, my mom and Gram and I stayed at a lovely hotel in a seaside town. After a late lunch at a local Mexican cafe we were on our way back to our room when Gram noticed that there was an afternoon tea set up in the lobby. She stopped us as we headed to the elevator. “Where are you going?” Gram said.

“I want to lay down for a little bit.”

“But there are snacks down here,” said Gram.

“I know but aren’t you stuffed?”

“Yes, but we have to eat some,” she whispered, “it’s gratis.”

Even though I am genetically predisposed to going for the free stuff, the idea of taking it makes me nervous. On our recent trip up north, while Jeff and Bob were at the breakfast buffet, I sat at our table eying the basket of darling imported jams.

“Don’t these look good?” I asked Jeff when he returned.

“Take them with you.”


“Put them in your bag, you can have them at home.”

“Should I dump the ramekin of sugar packets in there too? Please, I can buy my own jam.”

“Just do it. For Gram.”

Two days later, we were back home. I opened the little jars of sweet contraband in our kitchen. Their contents were delicious and even better, they were gratis.


  1. Soul sister! I am so thrilled to hear that there is another human on this rock that avoids the freebies. Though, your recent score might have made you a convert.

    They aren't all european jams you know. Sometimes its a soggy, microwaved pig in a blanket. One run through Costco and you'll come back to my side.

  2. Do it for Gram?!? Low blow, very low blow.

    Mine used to sit there at the table chatting away as she loaded up her bag with the leftover rolls, packets of whatever was on the table, and if the glass was really nice, that went in too. She rattled on her way out the door.

  3. Do it for Gram - love it.

    My husband would just stuff them into my purse when I'm not looking. You'd be amazed at the things I've found in there.

  4. Growing up in the Great Depression my mother learned to never pass up a freebie (or something that wasn't bolted down). My favorite story of one of her acquisitions is the time she came home from attending a meeting at a women's health care clinic and unloaded her purse to offer us the colorful candies she'd picked up at the receptionist's desk. Upon closer inspection she discovered she had actually taken a handful of condoms!

  5. I think Jeff and I are somehow related. With the love of dips and freebies and all. Gram is smiling down at all that Jam!
    The only thing I love more than free jam are the tiny soaps, shampoos, conditioners, shower caps and sewing kits in hotel rooms. My friends bring me bagfuls home from their trips. It's one of my happy places.
    Go Jeff!

  6. I feel funny at Trader Joes. I don't like to be on stage when I accept free nibbles. Having said that, I spent 20 minutes with a Whole Foods server handing out Samosas because we were hidden at the end of the frozen aisle. I ended up buying 2 boxes of Zesty Chicken Samosas. Those "free gifts" work. I have jams from all of my travels. Every time I open one, I go back to that spot. It's travel in my cupboard!

  7. I am turning you in to the hotel police!

    Not really.

  8. "Do it for Gram," oh, that guy knows how to play you....

  9. I know EXACTLY how you feel... I always have trouble with the freebie section. Maybe that's a black thing..."Everyone is LOOKING at you!!"

    This made me laugh though, sistah. Hee!!

  10. My great granmaw was 92 years old when she passed. She would take the extra napkins, straws, sugar, etc from restaurants. Her favorite thing though was the small bottles of syrup from Cracker Barrell. My daughter takes these little souvenirs now...