When You Give A College Student A Sweetener

Early Saturday morning (like 2 a.m. early), I looked around my kitchen, and realized that I was low on sweetener. I don't use sugar, because who really needs those extra and empty calories. Instead, I opt for an artificial sweetener, like Splenda, which in all fairness, has its own set of drawbacks.

In any event, it became obvious that my morning cup of coffee would not be suitable without such a luxury. So, I bravely trekked through the sub-freezing temperatures to one of only two dining facilities here on campus: McKinley's. I went in thinking: "I can go to the coffee station, grab a hefty handful of sweeteners, and leave. If any of the workers have a problem, I can pay for three large coffees, when in actuality, I wouldn't have bought a single for sale item." I was feeling so good, that I made the rookie mistake of asking the cashier for a paper bag, in which I could put the hefty handful of sweeteners. As is in many cases, it was going swimmingly, until it wasn't.

One of the managers came over, and said that I was not allowed to do that (take a hefty handful of sweeteners). Those sweeteners, he said, were reserved for customers either buying coffee or tea. Great, I thought. I asked if I could pay for as many coffees or teas as he felt was necessary, and take my hefty handful and leave. No dice. OK.

Now, I must confess, neither party, neither he nor I, were acting in any way angelic. I was standing on one side of the coffee station, emptying off-brand Splenda packets into a coffee cup, with brows furiously furrowed. He, meanwhile, stood and watched me, with crossed arms.

Anyway, at one point in our back-and-forth, he asked if I wanted to have him price the sweeteners. I said sure, and that I'd be willing to wait. I meant that sincerely, too. But I knew that he had no real intention of doing that. He also tried to employ economics to describe what a "deal" we as students receive when dining at McKinley's. He egged me on to respond, but the only thing I said to him was, "I don't want to talk to you, anymore." Why would I want to give him the ammunition he needed? I wasn't about to walk into that trap. He didn't know that I am an econ major, or that I am aware of wholesale food-supply economics. Neither point of which barred him from following through on price-checking, by the way. That was, I suppose, his own sense of defeat.

At the end of the day, this wasn't really an argument, or debate, about sweeteners. I should have left, instead of staying my ground. The battle is not always worth it. But these days, I feel like I have such little control over me and my life, that any little semblance of control that I can muster is a win. Even if it is acting like a total c*** (rhymes with runt), towards someone who is not deserving of my ire by any means.

Is this what we as humans do? Do we subconsciously seek out situations, in which we see no suitable outcome? As I walked back to my apartment, I thought, "Oh, If this would've happened at a different point in my life, I would have ripped him a new one, oh yes, I would've..." Yes, I could've gotten really dramatic. I could have climbed atop an empty table and called upon my fellow student-brethren to stand with me and fight this oppressive regime. And sadly, there was a time in my life when this would have transpired. But I am no longer that person.

Certainly, I still maintain the ability to get angry, or disgruntled, but I do not think it appropriate for me to hulk out at people over trivial issues, especially when I know that my emotions will simmer down once I remove myself from the situation.

We can all learn from our mistakes. Especially someone as jaded as myself. It is unfortunate, though, how wise we all seem to be in retrospect. I like to think that If I could have any superpower, it would be to flip a switch in my brain that would somehow let me see the future, and experience the retrospective thinking, in order not to have made the mistake in the first place.

If I could choose any particular lesson(s) from this to stress to y'all they would be the following.

1. Never mess with people who have anything do to with your food.

Just don't. This doesn't necessarily apply to this situation, but it is a code by which to live nonetheless.

2. If you do not have anything nice to say don't say it.

I think there should be an addendum to this, though. I say this because the way in which words are verbalized between two parties speaks volumes.

3. Choose your battles very wisely.

I still struggle with this. We can get very riled up over trivial events that have no positive impact(s) on our lives. I/we need to put our collective energy towards furthering our dreams and desires. In this way, I/we can finally regain some semblance of control.

I share this story not to shame anyone (other than myself), but to say that we all have less-than-stellar moments. It is what we do afterwards, though, that defines us. If that thinking doesn't work for you, I share with you sage advice given to me by a wise emergency room doctor, Dr. Mama: "You can do better." If Dr. Mama's words don't strike you, you can always do as the legendary RuPaul Andre Charles suggests: "Everybody say 'love'!" And If that doesn't do you any good, take a look at these images of genuine friendship and kindness.

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