The other day, I was in the grocery store with my husband, Brian. It is rare for us to shop together, since he buys the groceries, which is the envy of all my friends.
When I do tag along, there's usually a lady in the meat section wearing a white apron and cooking cocktail weenies on a little cart or she's in the dairy section passing out Dixie cups of juice or yogurt.
Her line is always the same… "Would you like to try a sample?"
My response is the same every time… "Not today, thank you." I'm not sure why I say that. I never take samples at grocery stores.
One of the great mysteries in life is the hoard of grown adults waiting at her booth pretending to be interested.
These people probably just came from the Golden Buffet or have cupboards chock full of food. Yet, they will take not one, but two or three samples.
I am wary of these shoppers, Brian being among them. On this run through the grocery store, he must have drifted past the cocktail weenie stand two or three times. I was so embarrassed I pretended I didn't know him.
How can people be so hungry that they need to stop and teensy- weensy food samples that have been exposed to shoppers coughing, sneezing, touching and breathing?
I admit the aroma of barbecue sauce does tempt me. However, the thought of the high percent of grocery store samples contaminated with bacteria and germs really turns my stomach.
I know several people, my husband included, who consider a round or two of grocery store samples to be lunch!
Many shoppers do walk past the sample lady without indulging. They cast an "I don't do food samples" glance, while she tends to the flock of "tasters" gathering like cattle at a feeding trough.
They brake to taste test, faking their interest in the latest brand of frozen pizza or brats. These people gobble up a bunch of samples without purchasing even one box or container of the product, and then walk away with full stomachs and grocery carts loaded down with other stuff.
You know, it makes me wonder if they realize the sample lady is not paid to give out free food, she is paid to help sell products.
I'd like to think that we are a nation with more sincerity and nobility than to take food samples with no intentions of buying the product. Or maybe I'm being too idealistic.
A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her columns have won first-place in National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women Communications Contests. In the 2009 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, Paula's columns took three first-place awards. To contact Paula, email firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her blog at www.my-story-your-story.blogspot.com and find her on Facebook.
2010© Paula Damon