Put Me On a Pedestal, Please

Do people offer you free gifts?

Free beers given to my husband for his birthday by a store: 2

Bingo games I have won in my lifetime: 0

Free bags of cheese I got last week: 3

People don’t look at me and get inspired to give me free stuff. I haven’t figured out if it’s my look (middle-aged, suburban, non-supermodel) or my lack of an English accent.

Until… just last week, the grocery store check-out lady who loves me reminded me that with the two bags of shredded mozzarella I was buying, I could go get three free bags of mozzarella.

Free, people. That’s like, a couple of extra pizzas I can coax out of my husband at no additional cost! I thought for a moment that my luck was turning around.

But my illusions were dashed yesterday when we went into our local wine store. One of the male owners–who is married, I might add–has a man-crush on my husband. When the owner guy found out it was my husband’s birthday, he trolled the shelves for the perfect-amount-of-hoppyness beer and gave my husband two free beers. For free. As a gift.

This has never happened to me. I think I have a look that either says, “She’s got things taken care of” or “She is not deserving of free drinks or gifts.”

I have been searching through my mental library for times when strangers have offered me gifts for existing.

None come to mind.

But wait! I was walking through the mall last summer, and a well-dressed guy and his partner stopped to tell me my haircut was “precious.” Does that count?

There were no gifts bestowed upon me, but I had a really nice day after that. My hair swished like a Pantene commercial, and I smiled benevolently at children pitching temper-tantrums. (Side note: they used to say they used horse mane products to make the models’ hair look shiny for shampoo commercials. Is that true? I have been haunted by that urban legend since I was a kid. That, and mashed potatoes used as ice cream in ads, which I’m pretty sure is true.)

Oh, it’s all coming back to me now: One time, in sixth grade, an outburst of entrepreneurial spirit occurred amongst my classmates. One girl acquired an obscene number of Coca-Cola, Sprite and other soft-drink-related stickers. (We lived in Atlanta, home of Coke, and her mom or dad probably got them at work.)

Anyway, she started selling them for something like a dollar a sheet. They were shiny and official-looking, and sixth-graders in the ’80s gravitated towards both novel and shiny things. In a type of pyramid scheme, she farmed some of them out where her lackeys began selling them, keeping a part of the profits for themselves but paying her for the acquisition of stickers.

The halls were abuzz. The stickers flew out of her locker. We all sported Coke stickers on every academic surface we owned: binders, pencil cases, parachute pants, even the notebooks that we traded in the hallways with our BFFs where we wrote notes about the latest gossip or how cute our crush looked when he sang, “Everybody’s Workin’ for the Weekend” at our lockers.

But teachers got wind of the scheme and shut it down. The stickers now devalued, the girl looked over at me during science and passed me a few sheets, gratis.


I existed, and I was in the right place at the right time.

It never happened again. And I kind of got tired of the Coke stickers after a few days.

How about you? Are you given free things just for being yourself?


20 thoughts on “Put Me On a Pedestal, Please

  1. Melissa says:

    Free?!? What’s that? I don’t think that’s ever happen to me either…It’s the accent, I swear.

  2. crubin says:

    Does a piece of candy count while trick-or-treating with your youngsters? But I haven’t done that for a few years. And now that those days are gone, there are no free gifts in my future. Well, unless I open up a credit card; then I might get a tote bag or something. 🙂

    • annewoodman says:

      I don’t want to open up a credit card account. Or make a makeup purchase. I just want to look like the sort of person who needs something free and fun.

  3. David Gentry says:

    My favorite server at IHOP gave me free coffee a couple of weeks ago. Beyond that….no.

  4. Daryl says:

    This year: glass of wine, coffee, free dessert, tub of cream cheese, festival tokens, free seat upgrade, free bottle of water (exhausted looking runner). Does the Chevy Silverado, Apple laptop and diamond tennis bracelet count? –admittedly they were won and not given. I guess I’m a little bit lucky.

  5. jmmcdowell says:

    I did win a gift card recently, but it wasn’t a true freebie. Hmm. . . . Nope. I got nothin’. 🙂

  6. David Gentry says:

    I have a way of winning door prizes. The most memorable was a gift basket of perfume samples. Guess who benefited from that! Ever since then (a few years ago) she has read and contributed to perfume blogs, she gets and sends perfume samples (should I be worried?), and she knows every place in the Birmingham area that sells any kind of perfume and which kind it is.

    Love, Dad

  7. Andria says:

    I’ve actually been lucky about winning drawings. Some of the things I’ve won are: lines for the boat, a cooler, a color television ( I think it was 20 inches, but a huge deal at the time) and a Macintosh computer. It was a drawing at the computer teacher’s conference. There were about 500 people there, so that was pretty cool.

  8. Arianne says:

    My mom used to write well constructed, entertaining multiple page complaint letters to product manufacturers who had disappointed her and would receive boxes of product in return. My sister tried it, but hers was an enthusiastic, supportive fan letter, and she received a new pair of athletic shoes. seeing their success, I called Stouffer’s customer service line when my box of Lean Cuisine pot stickers came with two dumplings rather than the pictured four. I received a coupon for a free product for my effort. Does this count?

    • annewoodman says:

      That’s awesome! I’d call that intelligent advocacy. Still counts, though. Congrats on the coupon!

    • Daryl says:

      I did the same thing. After learning about the Quality Policies of big organizations, I know what buttons to press. I haven’t done it in a while, but I did get a state of the art $249 video card as a replacement for one that I only spend $69 on. And I managed to get a free Compaq laptop after signing an affidavit that I would not sue Compaq for providing poor customer service. Naturally I obliged.

  9. Once in a while I’ll be at the checkout at Target and the cashier wilkl ask if I would like to save 10% by opening a new credit card. I smile and politely tell them that I prefer to pay full price. The looks I get in return are worth 10% of my purchase. 🙂

    • annewoodman says:

      Hahaha! I do the same thing. And I often turn down free things people try to foist off on me… I don’t need the junk. They say, “But it’s free!” When I still say no, they seem perplexed.

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