Monday, June 14, 2004

Report: Day 96 

The rules I set for myself were as follows. Today I would take only sugar set out for people to take. No digging around in cabinets or anything like that. Additionally, I would take only sugar and leave behind any blue, pink, or yellow stuff. Finally I would not take any containers with sugar, only the sugar itself. No bowls, spoons, or pouring containers. I carried around a couple of ziplocs in case I ran into such devices.

One: The Coffee Stand

First thing off the bat, my sister and brother-in-law asked if I wanted to go with them to Target to help them pick out a present for a friend of ours who was having a baby shower. I strapped on my man purse and we hit the road.

At Target I went to get some coffee at the little Target snack bar thing. I was mostly interested in the sugar, but coffee sounded good too. I went over to the coffee doctoring station and immediately noticed an enormous bin full of sugar packets. I reached up and grabbed a fistful of them and stuffed them into my man purse as non chalantly as was possible. Then I took a yellow packet and poured it into my coffee.

As I reached for my next handful of sugar a neighborly man came up behind me. He set his soda down on the counter and said, "You get your caffine from your coffee and I get mine from my pop!"

Two things. First In Oklahoma, as in many middle states they word they use to refer to the category of beverage Pepsi falls into is pop. It's a regional thing. I used it when I lived there, but when I moved to the east coast I quickly learned that noone uses it here and after a few blank stares from well meaning waitresses, I adapted.

Second, the standard of minimum polite interaction is very different from place to place. In New Jersey it is considered most polite to avoid any appearance that you will be taking up the time of another without very good cause. You don't speak to other people when a nod of the head will do. In Oklahoma, however, it is considered most polite to acknowledge other people, even strangers, by speaking to them and passing silently by can be taken as rude and off putting.

I had to distract him.

"Yeah, caffine is caffine. Doesn't much matter how you get it, I guess. Would you hand me a lid, please?"

He turned and I stuffed an enormous handful of sugar in my man purse.

"Here you go," he said.

"Thank you," I replied. "I'll trade you this straw."

I looked at the bin and there were only three or four packets of sugar remaining, so I decided I'd collected enough.

Two: The Baby Shower

I'd never been to a baby shower, but I got a special dispensation to be there, even though I was a boy, because I was in town for such a limited amount of time and there would be no other opportunity to see the mom on my visit.

"Oh, Beth," I asked of the hostess, "do you have any sugar for my tea?"

"Certainly, Brian," she responded.

She presented me with the sugar bowl from her kitchen table. I opened my man purse and took out a ziploc. Then I used the tiny little spoon to scoop out the sugar into my ziploc one half tea spoon at a time. After about thirty five scoops and countless odd stares, the bowl was just about empty, so I upended it, pouring the last remaining granuals into my bag. I gave the bowl a little tap to make sure I had gotten it all, then I returned the bowl and spoon to the hostess.

She turned slowly, not knowing exactly what to make of me, and started away. "Oh, Beth, one second please. May I see the spoon for one second?" Beth handed me the spoon and I spooned two little spoonfuls of sugar from my ziploc into my tea and stirred it briskly.

"Thank you," I said as she disappeared into the kitchen. "I've never been to a baby shower before. Is it time to open presents?"

Three: The Restaurant

I sat down to dinner with my parents and as soon as the waiter took our drink order and stepped away, I emptied the caddie of sugar into my man purse. My parents, a bit alarmed, could only stare.

I caught the eye of a passing bus boy. "Do you mind, our sugar caddy is empty. Could you refill it for us?" He dutifuly obliged and as soon as he stepped away, I again emptied all the sugar into my man purse.

When the waiter returned with our entres I again asked that the caddy be refilled, and again stuffed the contents into my man purse.

The fourth time I had it refilled, my parents finally said something. "What are you doing?"

"I'm Benricking."


On our way out the door, I emptied the sugar caddy the final time.

Four: Observations and Notes

Once you start looking, you would be amazed at how many places sugar is free.

I collected an ounce or two more than four pounds of sugar all tolled. I bought a vanilla bean and a clear glass canister and after about an hours work emptying those tiny packets into the canister created some very nice vanilla sugar for my mother.

Today I rap.

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