I am not the kind of person looking for a handout or anything free. When somebody offers me something free, I know there is a catch somewhere, and as long as I still have a slice of sanity in my noodle soup, nobody is going to catch me.
Before I had made this a hard and fast rule the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I took a company up on their free offer of three days and two nights in a marvelous resort hotel. “All you have to do,” the person on the phone said, “is listen to a short presentation.”
That “short presentation” took exactly three days and two nights. By the time we were done and ready to come home we were exhausted. How many times can you say no, and for it to register in the person to which it is directed? Obviously, from our experience, there is no answer to that question.
I learned my lesson and have never accepted a free offer since. Not that I have not had the opportunity, I just am highly suspicious of anything that contains that five-letter word “free.”
Recently an event happened that has upgraded my thoughts concerning the word “free.”
The day began as usual, which included a trip to the local grocery store and the bakery department for the obligatory Apple Fritter. A day without an Apple Fritter is a day I do not want to get out of bed. This one thing drives me out of my cozy bed in the morning and puts a little bit of get-up in my get-along.
I am not sure if an Apple Fritter a day will keep the doctor away, but who am I to challenge such likelihood? Personally, I would rather err on the side of the Apple Fritter.
It all began years ago when my wife insisted I add more fruit to my diet. It was then I discovered the marvelous delicacy of the old-fashioned Apple Fritter. Just the word apple makes it a fruit in my mind.
My wife and I have had very few disputes during the almost half-century of our relationship but this is one. She feels an Apple Fritter does not qualify as a fruit. I think she is rather fruity along this line myself; however, I am too wise and love life too much to actually say it to her. What I say under my breath and behind her back does me no harm whatsoever.
My argument is that there is enough Apple in an Apple Fritter to qualify it for a fruit.
I am not sure who has won this argument, but I am not going to challenge it. Rather, I will enjoy the fruity nature of my delectable Apple Fritter.
Getting back to the incident that has changed my mind about free. I entered the grocery store, walked back to the bakery department and selected a freshly baked Apple Fritter. It was about all I can do to keep from eating it between the bakery department and the cashier counter. We all have our crosses to bear, and this is one of mine. I need to wait until I get to my office where I can leisurely enjoy one of the great delicacies of life. Also, no one can see me eat it, especially, you know who.
I got to the checkout counter and handed over, reluctantly, my Apple Fritter in order to pay for it. It is the best $.79 I spend every day.
Then the inevitable happened.
“I’m sorry,” the young lady behind the counter said, “but there is something wrong with this Apple Fritter.”
Boy, did she have my attention. I was about to give her a piece of my mind. Who did she think she was? My wife? I wanted to give her a spicy lecture on the importance of the Apple Fritter in question. In my mind, there was nothing wrong with this Apple Fritter.
I do not often get my dander up. After all, I do not have the hair I used to have, so it is rather difficult to do it. This rather came close for me.
As I stood there steaming, she looked at me and said, “I’m sorry, the pricing is wrong on this Apple Fritter. I guess the bakery department made a mistake.” She then paused for a moment, did something on the cash machine and then said some words that caused me to dance in the aisles.
“I’m sorry that this mistake happened, so according to our store policy, this Apple Fritter is free.”
I stood there unable to speak. All my reservations about “free,” went out the window. I smiled. I smiled a smile that went from one end of the store to the other. Then to make sure I understood correctly I asked her, “Are you sure this is free?”
When she answered in the affirmative, I gently picked up that “free” Apple Fritter and departed from the store not afraid for anybody to see my Apple Fritter and me together.
The only other free offer I ever accept is from God.
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23 KJV). God’s gift carries with it marvelous compensations both now and eternally.