While at dinner in downtown Chicago with my two children and friends, I was jostled by a loud, offensive conversation just across from my table. The f-bomb was dropped twice, so, of course, the mama bear came out and walked over to the table to let the gentleman know that my small children were in earshot of this and to please STOP! Come to find out, he was the manager on duty and the conversation was pretty much a one-way street toward his female employee. What I witnessed was abuse in action. He bobbed his unempathetic head at me with a meek, "Sorry." You couldn't help but feel the tension, which put a damper on the meal I was having with my company. At the end of the meal, the waitress brought out a foiled package and said, "This is free dessert from the manager because of what happened." Hmm...I'm sure a large percentage of people would take it and walk out the door. Nothing said. Not a word. NOT ME. And seriously, what a coward! To have someone else be his delivery boy....it made me a little unnerved. So my response was, "I don't want it." The waitress was shocked. Why wouldn't I want something free...especially dessert? I let her know that if he was really that sorry, he should be the one to deliver the package, not her. When all was said and done, he did come out and remind me of his earlier apology, which btw is so professional, right? And as I turned the free dessert down a second time and calmly pointed out his abusive behavior to his employees IN FRONT of his guests, let alone children, he walked away with an "I don't care" attitude. Don't worry, I did get his name and made a call to the owner.
As we walked away from the situation, one of my friends said, "You should just take the dessert anyway...it is free and all." I looked at my friend and reminded her that if I took that dessert that I didn't want, two things would happen - number 1, I'd pack on 1000 extra unwanted calories and number 2 - he'd win. This is how this man rolls....I misbehave and then I give a gift to make up for it and hopefully you can sweep it under the rug. Even though this made sense to my friend, I could tell she still thought I should take it anyway. Why? Because it was free and it was dessert....two words that like to make love and create unhealthy babies. ;)
After a delicious, filling lunch one afternoon, the waitress came to the table and asked if anyone wanted dessert. There was only ONE person who desired to have something...even though she was full. She encouraged everyone at the table to have a piece of pie, even after hearing 3 times no one was interested. I could see she wanted a piece, not because she was hungry, but because she wanted that sugary taste on her tongue, but she knew she probably shouldn't because she had indulged quite a bit in sweets prior to lunch. She was feeling bad about it, which is why she was pressuring everyone else to join her so she'd feel better about herself. But nobody was budging. She ordered a piece of pie anyway. Then the waitress announced that free pieces of pie were being offered for ladies only. My friend's eyes shot right over to me as if to say, "Now is your chance! It's free! Take it!" I looked at her and said, "I don't want any pie. I am full and honestly, I just don't want to consume all those empty calories, now or later." Her response was, "But you can freeze it and if you ever have company who wants it, they can have it. Or you can give it to your daughter!" (who happened to be RIGHT THERE). I really didn't want my daughter eating one more large ticket item of crap, either. But now she wanted that piece of pie because the suggestion was made. In fact, my friend had pointed out the perfect piece of chocolate pie with colorful sprinkles before my daughter could even have a chance to think. I allowed it because honestly, it was becoming ridiculous. Can you see what happened, though? Two things: number 1, addictions like company or else I would've never been pressured and number 2, the word "free" gives us an excuse, a reason, as to why eating something we don't need or don't want makes perfect sense at that moment. So who do you think felt better leaving that table? You cannot deny that when a person consumes something like that, they just don't feel good about themselves later. But those that can walk away, unmoved by those unwanted offers, feel great, especially later.
Just because it's FREE doesn't mean you have to take it or consume it. You can choose to be a victim of that word or not. I will not deny that FREE is a good word. I love that word! But sometimes we can go after that word and not pay attention to what it stands for.
The next time the word "free" comes together with an offer, stop for a minute and really evaluate it. It could save your health.