I do not eat candies. Not, at least, the kind that used to be called ‘boiled sweets’ in the yellowing books I read in my youth.
(I confess to a weakness for chocolates, especially liqueur chocs, Grand Marnier for choice. Of course I’m not cadging, perish the thought, I merely mention it as a matter of passing interest and absolutely and categorically deny that that statement is directed at any charitable souls in the cyber-ether …)
To resume … I do not like candies. There is nobody in my home who likes candies. I do not normally interact with children whom I can bribe with candies.
Then why, when the stewardess comes round before take-off with that tray heaped with Alpenliebe and Cofitos, do I grin ingratiatingly and pick up a fistful of the stuff? Why do I try to make light of it by telling her, in conspiratorial fashion, that “I’ll be just a little greedy”? And why oh why do I compound my sins by chasing down a stray strawberry bite and then explaining weakly “I have a daughter”?
Simple answer, of course. Freebies.
Suspended above Death Valley on a clear day with an awe-inspiring view of the most starkly majestic landscape below, I could still turn away from the window to claim my share of the booty (one plastic cup of flat cola and a miniscule sachet with exactly 5 salted peanut halves). Prompted by hunger? Thirst? What about the hoagie and Diet can in my carry-on?
When a Certain Magazine (one does not name That Media Group’s publications on blogs) started to appear in a cellophane pack with free samples of toothpaste/shampoo/hair-oil/whatever, I regularly bought it at airport bookstores. After all, it did have some good reviews. As my emigrant friends would say, Yeah right! What made the purchase even more stunningly irrelevant was my .. aerodynamic? .. hair-style. (Well yes, I do still need toothpaste)
We all hate airline food, or claim to. We all agree that it’s terrible. We know, because when the long-suffering lady leans over and asks ‘Vaige or nawn-vaige, Sir?’, we fold out the seat-tray and hunker down over the Rice a la Rubber and the Putrid Pickle. Prompted solely by civility, mind – how COULD we say No when the nice lady’s taken the trouble to wheel her trolley up the aisle? Braving indigestion and obesity out of sheer kindness.
Something for nothing. Beating the system. Getting a bargain. Poor Milton Friedman, the history of mankind demonstrates that there will never be a significant number of people who believe him.
Postscript – the kind lady actually came back after take-off. To present me with an air-sickness bag. Bulging with candies. “For your daughter, Sir”. She has a genuine smile.
I checked her name-tag. Thank you, Ms. Lovely Sarkar.