Thursday, January 22, 2015

High Security Alert for your Girl Scout Cookies

It's Girl Scout cookie time, and that means you need a security strategy to protect yours!

About the third time I went for an after dinner Thin Mint, and found a crumpled, EMPTY cellophane sleeve in the box we called a family meeting.
We'd already decided that everybody could have two cookies a night, to keep it fair. The public trust had been breached!

We are second generation cookie monsters and we demand equity. My side of the family operated on  a principle my dad brought back from his time in the Marine Corps, "never check up short." In other words:  know what your fair share is, and it's up to you to get it. 

The Glovers had a stricter policy. My mother-in-law made thick, fudgey, nutty brownies and cut them into precise 1.5" squares. They were placed in a pyramid formation, each layer separated by waxed paper, in an old metal cake carrier. The lid had metal arms that stretched around the lip of the plate, and snapped into place to keep the contents moist. 

Norene ruled you could have one gooey block of rhapsody each night. None at lunch. Heaven help you if you got caught sneaking one. The wrath of the entire family came down on you and you were "docked" from the next night's allotment. She didn't actually count them, but she could spot any funny business.  My father-in-law grumbled that she might as well shellac them so they'd last forever.

Back to the cookie meeting.  I presented each family member with his or her own box of GS cookies to eat as they wanted. We wrote our names on the packages, and I stuck mine in the freezer to keep them in mint condition (pun intended.) It worked well. 

Work places have tried a similar strategy with mixed results.

Food snatching is a common problem at schools which explains why mini-fridges in classrooms have popped up like mushrooms.  In the good ol' days, our faculty shared a common "lounge" into which we crammed our bagged lunches. I usually labeled mine, hoping it would make a potential thief hesitate. No one ever nabbed my leftovers. 

Lounge etiquette, unstated but generally understood, allowed anyone to help themselves to snacks left out on the table. When there were unmarked treats in the lounge, word traveled like bad news on CNN. There could well be a stampede to get a goodie before classes began.

One lunch time my heart bounced like a kid hopping through a hula hoop. There was a big white bakery box in the middle of the table, lid flipped back to show the remains of a chocolate sheet cake. I scrounged through the drawers for a plastic fork, pulled the paper towel dispenser twice to create a napkin, and scooped up an edge piece full of extra frosting. I re-covered the box and read the curse scrawled on top.  "Go ahead and finish it you vultures!"

Whoa! Maybe the poison pen had dissuaded other late-to-the-table colleagues from trying the plundered dainty. ("dainty", a 13th century French word meaning delicacy, pleasure.) As my colleagues drifted in for lunch we pieced  the story together. This cake had been in the middle of the table (originally without the note) intended for a specific celebration. The general population hadn't been invited. Someone, innocently perhaps, took the first piece. When the cake-bearer came to fetch it for the special event, it was desecrated, thus the nasty note.

Our faculty was a pretty easy going bunch, so I wondered who had written the note.

When the name was revealed, I wasn't really surprised. She had a usually-contained disagreeable side I had seen one other time, but this fit. The vitriolic note didn't keep me from enjoying the cake.

The wider lesson of the story is: if your ambiguity will leave an opening for someone else's license, for both parties' sake you'd better make the label large and clear, and hope for the best.

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