Candy Jar: Running on Empty

The candy jar at work remains a mystery. It is filled up sporadically with varied options. The rhyme and reason for who fills it with what is a mystery. Mars bars? Someone loves me. Strawberry-cordial filled dark chocolates?  Who did John* screw over this time? Unfortunately, much of the time there’s nothing to wonder at; the jar sits empty, its cheery orange lid covered in a layer of dust.

On a recent day a coworker walked purposefully toward the candy jar, and stopped abruptly in front of it. He held it up to the light and shook it, as though the clear plastic sides, which showed no candy within, were playing tricks on his eyes.

“Why is there no candy?” he called out, tossing it up forlornly. It was empty because he’d eaten the last of the candy two weeks early, and no one had refilled it since.

“I have m&ms,” I called back. “Do you want some?”

“YES!” he replied, in a tone far different from his usual funereal inflection.

He took a handful, and munching happily, asked, accusatorily, “Why are you hoarding candy?”

“I don’t think it’s called hoarding when I buy candy and eat it,” I suggested.

“It is if you don’t put it in the candy jar,” was the reply.

“Ooh! Can I have some?” pipped in a third coworker, ending our standoff.

I suspect that it’s my coworker’s love of candy, rather than the unpredictable nature of the jar’s filling, that leads to it sitting empty. The candy jar, and now my candy stash as well.

*I don’t work with anyone named John. Even though the security guard told me this week that his brother’s buddy John – handsome and tall – works in the same office. I’ll take his word for it.

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Candy Jar

Most offices have a candy jar. Some have a bowl. Others have a dish. My old office had a drawer. While a drawer full of candy sounds awesome, the size made it hard fill it up at once – making any individual attempt seem paltry and stingy. In order to fill a candy drawer you have to stock up on enough chocolates, chewies, and drops to make the cashier fear that you’re trying to recreate the gingerbread cottage in which Hansel and Gretel were held captive. Which is why I tended to only bring in homemade treats – it’s much easier to fill out a desk space with napkins and such than it in to fill up a deep drawer.

My new office, however, has a candy jar. While significantly smaller than a drawer, it could still comfortably hold a small child. However, I am determined to win the affections and allegiance of my new coworkers. So, with candy sales abounding, I filled up the jar. My coworkers were thrilled with this new infusion of candy – I had strategically waited till the jar was emptied in order to gain maximum impact. I was happy that my plan to worm my way into their good graces had succeeded.

At least, I was glad until someone noticed that one of the candies had arrived in my bag – and then the jar – unwrapped. He made sure that I and everyone knew that he found this oversight unreasonable. He was still explaining the extent of his concern when another coworker leaned over him, grabbed the offending mini twix bar, and ate it. The fearless colleague assured us everything was fine and went back to work.

But the sanitary-conscious coworker wasn’t done listing his concerns about an unwrapped chocolate bar, as small and cute and tasty as it may be. Winding up his speech, he told me that he held me responsible for what had happened. I told him that if he didn’t appreciate my candy provisions, I’d stuff the jar with raisin boxes.

“You wouldn’t!” he said in horror.

“Watch me,” I warned him.

Thus is the battle for hearts and minds won. With lots of candy and a hint of dried-fruit menace.

Election Day: Primary Edition

My favorite work holiday is Election Day. I love elections. I love voting. I just wish that everyone enjoyed it as much as I do. I want voting to be a pleasant experience for everyone. For myself, the poll workers, and even those other voters who are rising up as one to build a better nation. Growing up, everyone loved voting. The people who loved it most were the poll workers. They hung out all day, surrounded by the aroma of the church’s bake sale, shooting the breeze and catching up with the neighbors. They were always thrilled to see me and my sister, and let us look at the signature books and play with the model levers. They were the best sort of people.

My New York poll workers seem to be the opposite. They’re pensive, morose, and sometimes bordering on hostile. But I know that deep down they just want to be surrounded by the smell of cake and coffee and ask me about our local garbage pickup. So I smile wide, and try to make conversation. It goes like this.

Me: “How’s it going so far?”

Poll worker: “Last name?”

Me, after providing my last name, first name, and address – twice: “How’s your day been? A lot of voters?”

Poll worker: “It’s slow. Kinda like this all day. Not many people here.”

Me: “Seems -”

At this point, the poll worker cuts me off my handing my a ballot and instructing me to go vote.

I took this treatment for a few elections, before my persistent joy began to make an impression. I’d get an almost-smile form the poll workers, a few words about their day and the neighborhood. Then, I’d vote. It was a start. Three years in, and we’d have actual conversations – and they stopped trying to explain to me how to vote. They knew I knew, and that we had more important issues to discuss. Like what had happened to the street clearning schedule.

Then I moved to a new district. I didn’t have all the time in the world to become friends with my poll workers, so I took extreme measures. I started handing out candy.

My first election, I had big plans – I introduced myself, got my ballot, voted, and then came back and introduced myself again and gave them the candy. They thanked me.

My second election, no one recognized me – and I only recognized one of them. But I was undaunted, and gave them a bag of candy with a smile. One poll worker looked ready to hug me. The other smiled vaguely.

My third election, I decided to go all out. In addition to the candy – an assortment of mini milky ways, snickers, and kit kats – I wrote my poll workers a thank you note. This time, when I whipped out the candy – tied with a bow – and attached card, there were squeals of delight. They thanked me, they smiled at me. They called over another poll worker to introduce me. Finally, I can look forward to an election day with the joy it deserves.

I have arrived.