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Once upon a time I believed in the essential honesty of people. I decided, out of the goodness of my heart and the depths of my pocketbook, to provide a box of candy bars, granola, even some fancy hot chocolate and gourmet coffee and other tidbits for my 15-20 fellow office workers. Good ol’ pre-Costco Price Club was the source of the goodies, which overall only cost me about 35 cents each. I placed each item carefully in a big plastic storage container in the breakroom, and added a cheerful note to suggest that a donation of 40 cents (about half of market price at that time) would henceforth keep the box refilled for future foragers. I set a styrofoam cup in the center to hold the money.

Day One: Goodies removed from container–32; Donations to fund–$7.00 and an IOU that said “I’ll get the next round” (with no signature). Hmmm, maybe I should take a walk around the office and check for chocolate breath…

At the end of the day, I neatened up the box and added more goodies to bring it back to its original enticing appearance. I also amended the note, adding a P.S.: Come on, guys, I can’t do this all on my own! with a little happy face just to show that I realized they’d (surely!) simply forgotten to donate. I replaced the styrofoam cup with a cardboard box labeled “40 cents each, please!”

Day Two: Goodies removed from container–40; Donations to fund–$8:37 and a lavender-scented note card that said, “Thanks, Anita. This is a great idea!”

This was going downhill fast. I neatened up the box and added more goodies to bring it back to its original enticing appearance. I also amended the note, adding a P.P.S.: The goodie box disappears tomorrow unless those of you who have forgotten to pay come up with the money!” Somehow I neglected to put the happy face on that one. I also taped across the top of the box leaving just a slit to put the money through.

Day Three: Goodies removed from container–everything except an open package of peanuts and my note; Donations to fund–variable. Variable? When I checked the box before noon, There s eemed to be quite a bit of change rattling in the box. By 3 o’clock, there was no rattle. . .and no box.

Day Four: Container conspicuously absent from breakroom table. Instead, there was a note: Goodie Box Out of Business. 

I have to say, I did get some of the money I was owed. Our highest-paid salesman, who could obviously afford to buy his own candy bars, sheepishly handed over twenty bucks. “I think I might have forgotten to come back with the change a couple of times.” But I never heard a word from the two rather large ladies in the south office (who were known for the vast collections of office supplies stored in their desks). I’m pretty sure it was because they knew their chocolate breath would give them away.

I’ll see you again, after the commercial.