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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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Thrice as Nice, But at What Price?

My employer does a lot of nice things — which is nice. But sometimes, a combination of nice things leads to… unexpected results.

One nice thing they do for us is to buy snacks for the office. Every week, we get a delivery of goodies — sodas, chips, fresh fruit, granola bars and little 100 calorie packets of cookies.

“Sure, you have to eat nine or ten of those little bags to get dessert. But all that exercise tearing them open must cancel out the calories, right?”

Sure, you have to eat nine or ten of those little bags to get dessert. But all that exercise tearing them open must cancel out the calories, right? It’s simple maths, probably.

Anyway, that’s a very nice thing they do. And much appreciated.

At the same time, the company wants us to be healthy.

(They don’t, for instance, condone actually eating a dozen Lorna Doone mini-cookie packs all at once.

And certainly not eating them lying on the conference room table in your underpants. Apparently.)

To encourage healthiness, our employer has a health drive every few months. We’re rewarded for making healthy decisions — like exercising and eating nutritious meals and working out at a gym.

Also, wearing pants while we eat our Lorna Doone cookies in the conference room. That’s highly encouraged. The “pants” part, at least.

The healthy thing is nice, too. Healthy is good. So good, in fact, that a few weeks ago, the company decided to do something even nicer.

And that’s where things went a little bit wonky.

Nice thing number three was this: a way to boost one of the contributions the employees make to charity. The premise was, in the interest of even MOAR health, anyone getting a “non-healthy” snack from the break room on Wednesdays in the fall would owe one dollar for the privilege. Fruit — free. Water — also free. Granola, unsalted peanuts and dried chewy craisins — no-fee, gratis and compliments of the house. Or management. Whatever.

Fourteen packs of little bitty cookies? That’ll cost you.

The money — should anyone’s sweet tooth overcome their horror at publicly paying for a fistful of Funyuns — will go toward our latest charity drive. They’re calling it “Willpower Wednesdays”. And it’s working. Sort of. But also not, mostly.

First of all, nobody’s buying snacks. The “buck of shame” thing seems to be working. So that’s a good thing, I guess, willpower-wise. And we’re a generally healthy group — conference room underpantsed dalliances notwithstanding — so people aren’t even doing the obvious thing you’d think: hoarding armfuls of brownie bits and crunchy pretzels on Tuesdays, and pigging out in Hump Day private. We’re better than that. Honest people. Upstanding. Responsible to ourselves and to each other.

Also, the CEO sent a memo saying not to. Anything we get caught with costs triple.

So nobody’s doing that. Clearly.

Which means we’re not making anything extra for that charity, probably. I guess we’ll just have to redouble our efforts elsewhere for orphaned Bolivian tree frogs or underserved hangnail sufferers or Texans who voted for Yosemite Sam. Whoever the hell we’re trying to help. We’ll get there. Just not with snack money.

Meanwhile, an odd thing is happening. Those unhealthy snacks don’t typically go so fast; there are usually a few left at the end of the week. So with nobody eating them for a whole day, there should be even more left, right?


Now it’s psychological. I’ve felt it. I walk through the break room on Wednesday, bee-lining for the rice cakes and low-fat organic bottled water. And any other day, that would be just fine for me.

But not on Wednesday. Not Willpower Wednesday.

Now I walk past those chocolate chip Cheetos and popcorn-flavored popcorn — and I crave. I long. I drool a little, on the rice cakes. Which is good — they need a hint of flavor. But the point is — I don’t want that crap usually. I only want it because I can’t have it, because I’d actually have to pay for it in front of other humans who have managed to not give in to their own longings and cravings and drooling on whatever bone-dry cardboard-tasting bits of stupid crap they’re trying to choke down.

That’s one thing. But then there’s the other thing. The thing called Thursday.

Or, as I like to call it, “Thanksgiving Thursday”.

You see, after Wednesday, the money jar goes away. Along with the stigma, and the sanctions, and the “Tostito tariff”. All that’s left on Thursday morning? The crave.

Thursday mornings are now a complete and utter snarf fest. By eleven fifteen, I’m twitching in a sugar coma, surrounded by a mound of empty cans and candy wrappers. The conference room table will never be the same again.

And I’m not the only one. By three o’clock Thursday afternoon, the snack shelves are wiped clean. Possibly licked clean; I’m afraid to look too closely. All that’s left to eat in the break room are half-squeezed mustard packets and drooled-on rice crumbs.

I don’t know. Maybe our company is too nice. I’ll have to think about this some more.

Right after this stomach ache goes away. So, like, April. June, at the latest.

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