I would love to, but…

Dear Reader,

Do you like free food? My answer – “Depends.” While many of you will answer “yes,” I’m sure that that is not always the case (well, at least for most of you).

I work at a job in which I often get to offer people free food. No strings attached; you don’t even have to talk to me to enjoy the food. Believe it or not, Dear Reader, giving away free food is not as easy as it sounds. In fact, I have found in my experience that many people do not have an overwhelmingly positive reaction to free food. I have detailed some scenarios below to illustrate this point.

I’m trying to be healthy

Most “free food” out there is not carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes. When I am at my job, depending on the day and time, we often hand out pizza, donuts, pastries, and sometimes even wine and beer. When presented with a table filled with junk food, passerbys will sometimes look longingly at the treats and then decline for health reasons. Their rejections are sometimes made with sad eyes. It is as if we came to tempt them and then ultimately disappointed them with our unhealthy spread. Other times, I hear responses like, “Oh, if only it weren’t pizza….” To be honest, I’m sure if we offered fruits and vegetables, we would get even less takers.

I have dinner plans/ I’m about to make dinner

I hear this soft rejection a lot too. This decline is often said with a tinge of regret in their voices. There was an instance once when someone came down to the entrance to pick up their UberEats delivery only to realize that there was an abundance of free food in their apartment lobby already. Pity. These individuals often feel like they were cheated out of a free meal. Other times, when people are on their way out to dinner, they are slightly put off by the fact that we are offering free food. For example, they will say “You come on the one day that I have dinner plans,” this is, of course, said in jest, however, at the same time, you can sense the minor disappointment at not being able to partake in a free meal.

I just ate

If you just spent $15 on a meal, you may be disappointed to find free food just a few minutes later. Some people become a little upset to have missed out on free food. They will often say, “I didn’t know that you guys were coming today.” Yes, we’re here and our food is free. However, free food is less appealing when you do not think that you will enjoy it immediately. Sorry to disappoint!

It’s too good to be true

Sometimes people will walk by slowly and internally decline after some deliberation. Sometimes people simply do not believe that free food is free. I know this because I sometimes see repeat visitors. People will walk by our little table without saying a word, but then magically reappear when our attention is (supposedly) on another passerby. Only then, when this person has ascertained that this food is indeed free will they approach to enjoy some of what we have to offer. Sometimes people do not accept the food at all, and wonder to themselves “why did I pass this up?” (I know that because I’ve done this before). Sometimes we’re too quick to say no. We think everything comes with hidden strings attached or fine print at the bottom. Sometimes our skepticism can get in the way of our happiness.

Do you ever find yourself in one of the above categories?

While I have outlined a few mini scenarios above, it is also important to mention that many people do enjoy free food. They see our table and think that they’ve hit the jackpot. These people are so happy that they text their wives, husbands, and friends that there is an event going on. Sometimes things are just free, so let’s just enjoy them for what they are!



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