The Candy Scam
A Metaphor For Modern Times
By Debra J. Ricketts
I answered my door today, to be greeted by a fresh-faced youngster wearing a screen-printed T-shirt and an engaging grin, bearing a cardboard case.
SAM: Hi, my name’s Sam, and my school is selling candy bars to help us raise money for new computers.
ME: What have you got?
SAM: Chocolate bars, peanut butter cups, and chocolate with almonds.
ME: Hm, those look pretty good. How much for a chocolate bar?
SAM: How much do you make a year?
ME: Pardon me?
SAM: What’s your annual income?
ME: What the hell are you talking about?
SAM: I can’t sell you a candy bar unless you tell me how much money you make each year.
SAM: So I can figure out what to charge you. Duh!<he rolls his eyes>
ME: Are you kidding me? It’s none of your damn business what I make!
SAM: Of course it is. You want a candy bar, don’t you?
ME: Not if it means telling you stuff that you don’t need to know.
SAM: You don’t understand. It’s our policy.
ME: But it’s none of your business!
SAM: Our school *really* needs computers, and I can’t sell you a candy bar without that information. You don’t want to let down little kids, do you?
ME: Fine. I make … um …. $50,000 a year.
SAM: That wasn’t so hard was it? A candy bar will be [ calculates furiously for a moment ] $10.47.
ME: Are you insane?
SAM: What? It’s not like you can’t afford it.
ME: That’s not the point. I can buy a candy bar for fifty cents at 7-11.
SAM: Yeah, but will 7-11 always be there for you? Will 7-11 come to your door? Will they have your preferred type of candy bar?
ME: If not, I can try the supermarket. Or the gas station. Or a vending machine.
SAM: What if they *all* go out of business?
ME: That’s ridiculous. Many people like candy, so somebody somewhere is going to sell it.
SAM: Maybe. But it is possible that you won’t be able to buy the candy when you want to. That’s why you need to buy it now, from me.
ME: Not at that price. It’s ridiculous. If I can’t find it when I need it, I guess I’ll just do without.
SAM: Oh, you say that now. But when the time comes, you’ll come crawling to me, and I may not have it if I have too many people like *you* who aren’t willing to pitch in now.
ME: I guess I’ll just live with the consequences of that.[ a thought occurs ] Say, what if I had told you I was unemployed?
SAM: I would have given you a candy bar free.
SAM: Well, it’s hardly fair to charge poor people the same price as you, isn’t it?
ME: Of course it’s fair. It’s the same candy bar.
SAM: What’s the matter with you? Don’t you think poor people should have candy too?
ME: I don’t care if they do or don’t. But I’m not paying you ten bucks so you can give candy to other people for free, especially when you said it was for computers.
SAM You’re such a jerk. Just give me the money and we’ll be done.
ME: What is *wrong* with you? I’m not giving you any money.
SAM: Of course you are. Everyone does.
ME: Not poor people – you just said so.
SAM: They will when they get money.
ME: Look, you little psychopath, go away. I’m not giving you money.
SAM: You really don’t care that we need computers? You don’t care that other people want candy and can’t afford it? Those are both good causes. What kind of horrible person are you?
ME: One who’s telling you to get the hell off my doorstep. Go on, get out of here!
SAM: I really didn’t want it to come to this.[ pulls out a .38 Chief’s Special ]
ME: Holy crap! Are you nuts? Jesus, that’s a GUN!
SAM: And it’s going to fire a bullet in your face if you don’t give me $10.47.
ME: You’re robbing me?
SAM: Are you stupid or something? I am selling you a candy bar. And you’re buying it for $10.47. No one’s being robbed.
ME:[ screaming ] I DON’T WANT A CANDY BAR!
SAM: But you have to buy one anyway. Look, I tried to be nice, but like I told you, we need the money.
ME: If no one’s being robbed, why do you need a gun?
SAM: Because *some* people[ looks at me significantly ] just don’t understand when they need to do something for their own good.
Sam walked away whistling, an extra $10.47 in his pocket. I turned over the candy bar in my hand. It read, “Good until Dec 1982.” I tossed it into the trash and returned to my desk to finish filling out my IRS Form 1040.
Debra Ricketts (email:firstname.lastname@example.org), a 15-year resident of Southern Nevada, an Information Systems manager, and all-around geek, is a relative newcomer to the field of political activism and is currently serving as Treasurer of theFree State Project.