Starbucks was giving away free samples of their new pastry confections today. I got uncharacteristically excited about this proposition, as I often restrain myself from ordering their goodies. The man in front of me in line did not share in my anticipatory hunger. When asked if he would like a free sample, he simply refused without a second of thought. I did not meet this man, but here is the conversation we had while waiting for our drinks at Starbucks.

ME: Did you just say no to a free sample of a lemon bar?
SB PATRON: Yes. Yes I did.
ME: Can I have your free sample?
(Starbucks employee glares at me)
SB PATRON: I don’t think it works that way.
ME: Do you have some kind of dietary restriction? Allergies? Diabetes? Veganism?
SB PATRON: No. I just don’t believe that anything is life is free. If I take a free sample then the universe will make me pay it back at some other time and in some other way. Owing the universe is not a position I particularly care to be in.
ME: Well what if the universe currently owes you and is attempting to pay you back with a lemon bar sample? Yet you are refusing to accept payment for the debt owed you. What do you think of that?
SB PATRON: It’s possible but not probable. If that is indeed the case then I am simply choosing not to accept the lemon bar sample as payment. I consider the lemon bar the way most establishments consider the Discover card.
ME: When I worked at Sam’s Club we did accept the Discover card. We surprisingly and controversially did not accept Visa. Do you know what else I accepted that summer?
SB PATRON: What’s that?
ME: Lots and lots of free food samples. But you couldn’t eat while you were on the clock. So at lunchtime we would take off our vests and feast on various Swedish meatballs and pizza bagel bites.
SB PATRON: You must have owed the universe quite a bit after that summer.
ME: I was working at Sam’s Club selling 20gallon tubs of mayo. The universe owed me.
SB PATRON: Well I better get back to work. Can’t be late.
ME: Wait – one more Sam’s Club anecdote related to what you just said. A friend of mine who was working with me that summer once showed up late to his 2pm shift because he overslept. He was so lazy he couldn’t wake up in time for an afternoon shift!
SB PATRON: What happened to him?
ME: They put him on cart duty the rest of the day. Everyone hated cart duty. It was like 100 degrees out there. Although I think he ended up taking a nap in his car.
SB PATRON: Sounds like he was overdrawn on his universe account.
ME: Is there a website where I can look up my balance

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