Let’s admit it, we all have helped ourselves to an extra free item that’s available for the taking. From T-shirts at a trade show, to food tasting samples at a store, to extra pieces of Halloween Candy sitting outside in a bowl with a “please take one” sign.

Of course, condiment packets, sugar and sweeteners, napkins, plastic cutlery and straws also fall prey to the “don’t mind if I do” crowd.

Regardless of the situation, there are those who take it to another level. My dad, Mel, is one of those individuals. Twenty-something years ago, my parents took a friend and I out to dinner to a German restaurant in Baltimore, called Haussner’s. Upon getting ready to leave the restaurant, next to the check-in podium, there was a rather large bowl of individually wrapped mints. My friend thought it amusing, if not daring, to take about three. My father, quickly intervened and said, “Na, Eric…here’s how ya’ do it!” and proceeded to take an entire handful of mints. My friend and I cracked up laughing while my mom rapidly exited the restaurant in embarrassment.

I thought my dad ranked up there among the top of those whom I’ve coined, “help yourself-ers.” However, my dentist’s office manager recently educated me otherwise. In their dental office waiting room, they have a Keurig machine and coffee pods for their patients. Well, apparently some help yourself-ers think that the Keurig pods fall into the same category as condiment packets and mints. She even went on to tell me that some people took an entire shelf full of pods.

This struck me as appalling until she told me about another situation. Apparently, she discovered that people started availing themselves of the extra rolls of toilet paper in their restroom.

I can’t wait to tell my dad, that relatively speaking, his help yourself-er ranking has plummeted. But then again, I don’t want to give him any new ideas.

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