My cousin picked up second job at Costco (a huge warehouse retailer, with a bit of cache) as a Food Demonstrator, preparing and offering food samples to shoppers. She didn’t need the job, but is never comfortable being idle (yep, I’m trying to help her with that).
Plus, it was a little extra cash for travel and she was shopping there once a week anyway, so she figured why not combine that with a few hours of stress-free, easy work.
I was happy when she took the job, as we didn’t see each other very often and I looked forward to a brief catch-up while shopping in the store, even if it was nothing more than a wave and a quick Hello.
Earlier this year, I realized I hadn’t seen her in a while, and shot off a quick text asking if she was still working there.
She replied that she was taking a break, not picking up any shifts, and thinking about quitting.
My response was quick – “Why? Too stressful with the vultures?” To which I received a laughing emoticon and an unequivocal “Yes!”
What was supposed to be “stress-free” and “easy” became exhausting.
There’s just something about free food that brings out primitive, survival, elbow-thy-neighbor behavior.
And the people doing the elbowing aren’t exactly starving as they jockey into position to grab a bit of brie on a water biscuit! The demographics of a Costco shopper is rather well-to-do, and this store is in a particularly upscale part of town.
I hang my head in embarrassment as I recall my own behavior from several years earlier.
My husband and I were in the store and I saw a sign for a particularly appealing dish - I can’t remember what it was, but chocolate was likely involved.
I descended upon the mobile cart conveniently situated adjacent to the display of product available for purchase.
My arm stretched forward, may gaze fixed on the tempting nibble, as I savored the aroma and grabbed my sample.
I soon felt a nudge, turned and looked to see my husband and said, “do you want me to get you one too?”
He gave me a look, twitching his head as he motioned to the face behind the cart and said, “Look!”
I turned my head and there in front of me was my cousin, a glint in her eye, a crooked smile on her face.
I was mortified.
Holy crap! I couldn’t believe I not only had not acknowledged the person serving the food, I was oblivious her very existence. I thought I was beyond this; above it. Yet here I was, not even hungry, and behaving so rudely. Uncivilized really.
That was a pivotal moment for me.
As I reflected on that day, I understood why she was thinking about quitting. Dealing with that atmosphere for 4 hours or more at a time would drive me crazy.
What is it about food, and especially Free food?! This primal urge takes over. So powerful.
As I philosophize about it (which I do about so many things), it strikes me at just how powerful our urge for survival is; that being fed and nourished is such a basic instinct. So strong in fact that it sometimes sets our behavior back several thousand years.
And it’s a reason that I don’t believe in “diets” or protocols that restrict and come from a place of lack, denial and deprivation. When we employ those tactics – “I CAN’T” - we want it even more.
I am grateful that my mortifying moment has dramatically changed my “sampling” behavior. I became much more aware on those outings, taking time to notice my surroundings, the person offering the food, and would stop and ask myself if I actually wanted the tasting.
If I did, I ate it. If I didn’t, it became easy to walk away.
That image of my past behavior became an impetus for change that now is second nature. I don’t have to consciously reflect, it has become habit.
And it feels good to feel civilized. Although I’m sure a dark chocolate festival would put me to the test!
Please share this with anyone you think would enjoy it, and of course, I always welcome your feedback!
Wishing you well! Karen
P.S. Ready to create some new habits for yourself? That’s why I’m here. I can help you too figure out what’s getting in the way between you and better choices. Let’s have a chat about how integrative health coaching works and find out if working together is a good fit. I offer a complimentary session and scheduling is easy with my online booking system: Schedule Now
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