Cookie Sandwich

Have you ever been to one of those KFC/Taco Bell restaurants where you can put together a combination of fast food that no person in their right mind should ever consume in one meal? Well, I’m on a business trip to a pretty remote area and I just went to one for dinner tonight. On their menu was a new dessert item: the cookie sandwich. Now, I just spent 14 hours to get here and the idea of two chocolate chip cookies with about a half inch of icing between them just sounded like an awesome way to finish my quesadilla and soft taco meal of goodness.

When I got my order I looked in the bag, sure enough, my beloved cookie sandwich was not to be had. At that point no less than four employees of this restaurant stopped what they were doing to locate me said cookie sandwich. Apparently this item was so new it wasn’t with the other delectable dessert items. After about five minutes the cookie goodness was found and I was on my way.

I got back to my hotel room, enjoyed my feast, when I reached in the bag for a napkin I saw my receipt. With no cookie sandwich on it. Now, this cookie sandwich is $1.29 plus tax, and it’s not my fault that the cashier didn’t ring it up, but as I sat in my hotel room a little voice came in my head and gnawed at me.

In his book The Millionaire Next Door Dr Thomas Stanley surveyed millionaires about the traits that contributed to their success, and the number one trait was integrity. Now I’m far from being a millionaire, but I do try to be a good person and integrity is really important to me. Is it making me wealthy and successful? Maybe it will one day, but as I sat in my room, with the thought that I’d essentially stolen a cookie sandwich, even if it wasn’t my fault, I felt horrible.

I did the only thing I felt was right. I went back to the restaurant with my receipt and asked the cashier if I could pay for my cookie sandwich. At first he didn’t really know what I was trying to do, but after it sunk in he was really thankful that I came back.

Maybe it would have been absorbed by the restaurant as a mistake, but now that I went back and paid for my “free” dessert I feel better. For $1.29 it was money well spent.

Untouchable

Once a week or so, when we can both fit it into our schedules, my neighbor and I go for a walk with her dog. It’s a way for us to get some exercise and the dog loves it, but it’s also just time where we can talk about pretty much anything: from our lives, to something we read, to upcoming events in the community, pretty much anything. It’s great having someone you trust who engages you with intelligent conversation.

During our most recent outing she made a comment about a cooking reality show whose name escapes me. Apparently the contestants are sequestered for three months while the show is taped to prevent outsiders from discovering the results. One of the contestants was being interviewed after the fact and she mentioned that one of the hardest parts for her was the periodic massage that was offered. They impacted her so hard that she actually would break down crying. Why would anyone start crying during a massage? She said it was because those massages were the only human contact that she had during the entire three months she was on the show.

At that point the conversation with my neighbor shifted and I didn’t really give this chef’s strife any more thought, but in the days since I realized that I almost never have any physical contact with anyone. I’m not talking about intimacy, I mean any at all. Hugs, handshakes, pats on the back. You get the idea. I’m not sure how common that is for other people, but now that I’m aware of it, I feel that much lonelier.

How Can We Fix Congress?

I’ve posted before about our dysfunctional federal government and in the past few days our Congress has shown that it’s still just as unable to get things done in a timely manner as it was during the summer of 2011 when I wrote that earlier post. Here’s what I can’t seem to wrap my head around: Our government, including Congress, is regulated by laws. The only entity that creates laws is Congress. In order to fix the broken system we need new laws, but the only body that can create them is the very group of people who would be reigned in by such new regulations. Based on what I’ve observed, I don’t see any lawmakers voting for a bill that would give them “less power” even if it would benefit the greater good.

Am I missing something? How can we fix this? The executive branch and judicial branches don’t have the power to create laws and the answer of “don’t vote for any incumbents” doesn’t seem to work because the attitude of “well, it’s not my rep that’s the problem, it’s the other person” is ridiculously pervasive. Help.