How Far Will You Go For Free Stuff?

For a few weeks already, I'd been hearing about this "mega event" in a nearby convention center. "Free activities, free entertainment for the whole family, free food and product samples," flyers boasted. Lots of my friends made plans to go, and I, not having anything else in the works, told my friends that I'd be going there as well.
Well, it turns out that I'd inadvertently scheduled one of my wild edibles walks on both days of this mega event and my friends were shocked. 'You mean you're not going to go to the mega event?'
After my wild edibles walk I got a phone call from my sister, Violet, who had been at the mega event, and she really recommended I stop by, since I was in the city anyhow, if only to take some samples home, because why not- I was already right there.

Immediately as I entered the conference center, I was hit with such a big sensory overload- oversized multicolor advertisement posters and booths covered nearly every spare inch, the music playing and people talking kept the noise level at a dull roar, and the sheer amount people in that place was astounding.
Each booth was covered in large advertisements at you shouting at you "Buy me! Buy me!" Most booths gave out samples of their company's products, mostly food. With my love of free stuff, surely you must think that I was in heaven.
Absolutely not.

The reason I wasn't "so into" this whole expo was because it reaffirmed for me how people's morals fly out the window when it comes to things like money, or in this case, free stuff.

I mean, people are obsessed with money, and therefore, they're obsessed with free. "Free stuff" gets people flocking from all corner's of the universe. What is being given away doesn't really matter, so long as its free.
But honestly, that isn't such a problem. Just wanting free stuff isn't a sin.
The sin comes into play when the people sink to low levels in order to get the free stuff.

Because there were so many people vying for the same free goods, things often were a little bit less than well mannered.

When free apples and grapes were being given away, I was standing in a line to get the stuff, and people who were behind me, shoved me and my baby out of the way, elbowed me, so they could get there first, and by the time I got there, nothing was left.

There were lines to take pictures which were then turned into magnets. This was a very popular booth, and the lines were very long. They barely moved. I discovered why when it was nearly our turn, because a whole bunch of people kept cutting the line. Not just kids, but adult too.

There was a man giving out free balloons. I was nearly run over by a stampede of people running after the balloon man, because they wanted their free balloons.

In short, all manners, all human decency went out the window.
And for what?
For free stuff.

It was just so disgusting, so disheartening, that people would hurt people, would, push, shove and be totally inconsiderate, just so that they can get a little free something.

Just because it was free, they'd do anything.

But not just anything.

I teach people how to pick wild edibles.
While everyone was busy inside the convention center pushing, shoving, elbowing, and doing anything really to get free stuff, especially free food, I was sitting outside on a patch of grass, where there was some purslane growing.
I thought about the free food inside that everyone was fighting over, and then about the free food, available for the taking, just a few feet away. I sadly shook my head knowing that even if I'd announce "Free food over here", very few people would be willing to taste that purslane, because picking wild edibles is beneath them... but shoving, pushing, and plain old being nasty so they can get free processed food is totally cool in their eyes.
Which makes me sad.

This isn't the only place people act despicably just because something is free. A man was killed in a stampede to get free stuff from a Walmart store one Black Friday in 2008. So sad.

On a lighter note...
This whole situation reminded me of a video I saw once, called "How Far Will You Go For Fantastic Delites?"

You can see the movie here if you haven't seen it already.

In short, a vending machine was put in a very public place, and instead of taking money, you had to do increasingly and increasingly ridiculous and embarrassing stunts to get a free box of crackers. Many, many, many people partook in it, pretty much doing "just anything" to get their free food.

People like free stuff.
They especially like free food.

At the expo, people also showed a "lighter side" of how far they'd be willing to go for free food or goodies.
People would wait on line for twenty minutes or longer, play a matching game or fishing game or tossing game or something of the sort, just for the chance to maybe win, because if they did, they'd get free food.

People were stuffing their face with food that wasn't healthy, didn't even taste particularly good, they didn't even want the stuff, but since it was free, they couldn't pass it up. In other words, making themselves a human garbage disposal, just because the stuff was free.

Because, after all, its free food. And people love free.

When I was a teenager, I was a bit of a mischief maker occasionally.
I decided with a friend to make signs around our school saying "free food" along with a date and time, and see how many people ended up showing up, not knowing what the food was for, who it was from, what the purpose was, etc... just because it was free food.
I don't remember what ended up happening with that in the end, if I really did anything or if I chickened out at the last moment.

In school, whenever anyone had food in their house they no longer wanted, they'd set it up in the hallway of the school during break, and within moments, it would be gone, no matter how non tasty it was! Because it was free food!

People really, really, really like free food.

Why then, I wonder, do they have such an aversion to free wild food?

P.S. You may be wondering why I had an issue with how people were acting to get free food. After all, I go to levels most people wouldn't to get free food. I mean, I've rescued food from the trash. How am I any better than the people at the "mega event"?
I'll tell ya how.
I may go to extremes to get free food, but never at the expense of anyone else. I would never hurt someone to get free food.
Shoving, pushing, stealing from others so you can get free food=bad.
Preventing usable food from going to landfills=not a popular idea, but certainly not bad, and more likely good.

So, how far would you go for free stuff, especially food? If you were in that shopping center where they had that machine (shown in the video), would you do embarrassing dance moves to get free food? Would you play games and wait in long lines in the hopes that you might get some free food or other things?
If there was a limited amount of a free food, would you push ahead so that you can make sure you get some, even if it would mean people who were there before you get none?
Would you have enjoyed an expo like the one I was at, or would it have bothered you?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


Thank you for leaving a comment on your blog. Comments are moderated- please be patient to allow time for them to go through. Opposing opinions are permitted, discussion and disagreements are encouraged, but nasty comments for the sole purpose of being nasty without constructive criticisms will be deleted.
Just a note- I take my privacy seriously, and comments giving away my location or religion are automatically deleted too.

  1. Not my thing either! I would rather labor in my garden for free food then face a crowd! So many times we go places with the kids we are offered free things cheap toys from birthdays, and I almost always pass stuff up and I have started to ask my kids questions to help them long do you think that will last? If you saved up your money could you buy one that would last? Do you need it? Will you really play with it? Where are you going to keep it? What will happen if a younger child got ahold of it? It's surprizing to me what my kids will pass up now...often saying something like "no, thanks I don't want to have to pick it up i have enough toys already." I' m not saying all the time but I' m proud they seem to get wants, needs and extra stuff! P.s. I almost never pass up free books and toothbrushes!

  2. My experience with events like this has been a bit pushy, but not nearly to that extent. Even when I was a teenager and went to a teen event of this sort with my best friend. If I know an event will be like that, I will forgo the free stuff. In fact, most free things I don't even want. If I don't need it or wouldn't use it otherwise, I don't want it, for example toxic shampoos or pens ...I have the pens I need and I like them, and I am very particular about what body products touch my person. So I guess that also helps me ...and reminds me about an event of this sort that I want to go to! Hah :S

Previous Post Next Post