On Sad Old Guys and Candy

Man, this post is going to be dumb but I’m going for it anyway.

Just because I eat like a decent human being and am very conscious of my weight, exercise routine, and how I generally take care of myself doesn’t mean I don’t like normal food. In fact, I’ve fully embraced the concept of an insanely flexible diet and mostly eat whatever I want within reason. So, yeah, while I cook 90% of my meals at home so I have a good idea of what is actually in them and make enough so I have leftovers for lunch the next day that usually consists of grilled chicken and vegetables of some kind I certainly do not shy away from pizza, hamburgers, the occasional trip to the Indian buffet and, lord above me, greasy Americanized Mexican food.

One thing I’ve noticed, though, that has definitely changed is my desire for sweets. Sure, I still eat them whenever I want them and will certainly not pass them up if someone offers me a goodie, but for the most part my desire for them is waning and has been for the last several months. The only exception? Sometime around mid afternoon when I have the urge for just a bite of something. A coworker often has a candy bowl at her desk that’s filled with various chocolate selections – usually fun-sized candy bars – and that’s usually where I’ll get my fix.

But not today.

No, today, there was no candy bowl present. I guess we’re out. Bummer. Next stop: snack machine in the break room. There’s always peanut M&Ms in the snack machine and I knew I had cash on me so I went in there with dreams of peanut M&Ms filling my tired mind. I put the dollar in, made my selection and watched as the pack of candy got closer and closer and closer and then…got stuck.

I banged on the machine a bit – tried tilting it, etc. to no avail. They were, indeed, very stuck. The first thing that came to my mind was buying another pack of M&Ms, thereby pushing my original purchase off of its spring along with the new purchase, then I’d just stash the second pack of candies in my desk in case another day like today came about. Brilliant!

…Except that I didn’t have any other $1 bills on me. I have change at my desk, though, so all hope was not lost. I’d already used my quarters so I fished through the pennies to pull out every nickel and dime I had remaining in my change cup and counted 90¢. Not bad except that M&Ms cost $1 in the machine. I was a dime short.

I could’ve asked a coworker for a dime – heck, even for a full dollar if they had one to spare – but in doing so I would be publicly admitting that I was currently sweating out a moment of weakness. With my 90¢ in hand I went back to the machine. This time my intention was to buy something above the M&Ms that cost less than $1, hoping it would hit the candy on the way down and finally give me the peanut-filled bliss. A few levels above M&Ms sat Chili-flavored Fritos: 90¢. SCORE

I quickly punched in the code for the chips and they came out, just like I had planned, crashing into the M&Ms on the way down to the bottom where they laid there…alone. Yes, the bag hit the pack of candy but it still didn’t budge. Fine. I’ll just eat these Fritos and be happy about it. I grabbed up the chips and turned them over to look at the nutritional facts on the reverse side and saw that a single pack of these babies would cost me nearly 400 calories – that’s nearly a full meal in the form of chili-flavored Fritos. I’m all for a flexible diet but that’s a lot to pay for very little return – especially for an item I didn’t want in the first place. Defeated, I tossed the bag of Fritos onto one of the tables in the breakroom, hoping someone else would eat them and not taste the depression they had helped cause.

Later on I was telling Erin my heartbreaking tale and said I’d rather just look at it as me “paying it forward” by allowing the next hungry coworker interested in a free bag of chips to partake freely. Or maybe the next person who wanted M&Ms and had $1 could get two for the price of one. I also retold the story of how Paps stopped by the Ingles in Colonial Heights after a middle school basketball game to get me something to drink out of the machine. A Sunkist I had wanted and had paid for but when I hit the button to receive one the machine malfunctioned and I received 8 instead. At that moment I was the luckiest kid in Kingsport. Now, 17 years later, I was a defeated old guy, depressed that he didn’t get his candy.

Maybe I’ve been slowly paying for those 7 Sunkists I didn’t pay for over time but I’d rather think I’ve done someone a favor. I can only hope that a good soul will one day find that they weren’t really in the mood for peanut M&Ms and leave an unopened, unaccounted for pack on a lonely break room table, free for the taking.

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