collecting condiments

Generations X and Y are widely believed to have entitlement issues, but it’s grandma who keeps stealing all the sugar packets.

Both my mother and my mother-in-law routinely carried off ketchup packets and coffee creamers. And you may too, or know someone who does.

An article over at eatocracy says there are psychological reasons for this. One psychologist says, ““It’s easy for some people to say – to rationalize – taking these items is not going to have an impact.”

They put it out for me, didn’t they? I’m just going to use it later. Such rationalization stems from both the entitlement expectations of current culture as well as Depression era anxiety among the elderly.

So they end up hoarding and, well, stealing. Because there is a little kleptomania in all of us, a guilty pleasure in collecting condiments even if we do throw them out when we finally clean the refrigerator.

But theft it is. Some restaurant owners report spending 1% of their operating costs on table condiments. And they literally have to budget for the amount that walks off, in chains sometimes into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The reason we pump our own ketchup at McDonald’s now is so we can’t take it home with us. There is even a patent for a theft resistant condiment container.

So it’s not just a psychological issue. It’s an economic issue. And it’s a moral one. Pilfering is stealing small things, but it is still stealing. The list is a long one—condiments and plastic forks at the restaurant, blank papers and paper clips at work.

It’s really unnecessary. They sell duck sauce at the grocery store, you know. We don’t have to take it home from the Chinese restaurant.

And all those entitled teenagers? They went out to eat with grandma, so there may be a little unfortunate cause and effect going on. We have blurred the lines and don’t understand why our children can’t see them.

They can count the taco packets in our glove compartment, however. And they want a little guilty pleasure of their own.

It is the little foxes that steal the grapes.

But it was grandma who stole the grape jelly from the diner.

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About wally metts

Wally Metts is the daysman. He is director of graduate studies in communication at Spring Arbor University and is a pastor at Countryside Bible Church in Jonesville, MI. The father of four adult children, he and his wife Katie raise barn cats and Christmas trees in Michigan. His grandchildren call him Santa.

One Response to “collecting condiments”

  1. You perfectly describe my mom here – feeling a need to take a couple of Sweet ‘n Low packets and some wrapped “silverware” b/c she bought her lunch and is entitled. She wouldn’t think of “stealing” though – not in a million years.

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