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.

Score!

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?