“Sorry, what?” I said.
He held up an open box. “I’m selling these cookies to earn money. They’re European. Would you like to buy a package?” He was wearing several layers of clothing, which seemed unseasonably warm in the summer-like weather. The box was a USPS Priority Mail box.
I went into auto-pilot mode. “I’m sorry, I don’t carry cash.” This is my standard brush-off for beggars and door-to-door salesmen, but it’s also mostly true. I’m a credit card kind of gal.
“Oh, that’s OK. You can have one anyway. Here you go!” He reaches into the box and hands me a package of cookies. It’s a white and purple package. Sultana Fruit Biscuits. Berry flavor. Maybe German or Dutch?
“Oh, but I can’t pay you-“ I protested, but he waved my words away.
“The smile on your face is payment enough,” he said with a grin. He looked so cheerful that I couldn’t help but smile back.
“Thank you, that’s so sweet.” I hated to ruin the gesture by handing the cookies back, but I also felt guilty taking them. He started walking up the street before I could make up my mind to hand them back. He was going door-to-door, knocking or ringing doorbells, but as he progressed up the road I didn’t see anyone opening the door to talk to him.
As I walked home, I decided that there were probably three reasons he might have given me a free package of cookies:
1. He works this route often, and knows that next time I see him I’ll probably feel so guilty about the free cookies that I’ll buy whatever he’s selling (because this is indeed what would happen).
2. He’s having no luck finding customers and just wants to get rid of the cookies.
3. The cookies were in a package stolen off of someone’s porch so right now he just needs to get rid of the evidence.
They’re sitting on my counter at home. The seals all looked good, so at some point I’m sure I’ll eat them. I can never resist trying a foreign treat – especially when it was free.