Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ethics, SB, and the movie theatrer

My local movie theater offers a special each Tuesday night, wherein the cost for admission and a regular size popcorn/drink combo is about half price. Not a bad deal , all in all. However, I've also quietly noticed that they offer you the option at the snack counter to "up size" your popcorn to a large size for about $.50. Naturally, of course, this means you pay less per gram for your popcorn than the regular size, but in a way it's a bit of a scam, as no one in their right mind needs to eat even half of the popcorn that container holds. You just buy more than you will ever want or need, because you think it's a good deal.

But then I noticed something else. The large size popcorn comes with free refills. At first, I think it's a bit of a con, as no one could ever eat one large popcorn in a movie, let alone refill for another full bag. Maybe an evil teenage boy, but not me. But then I started to look at it differently. There was nothing wrong with me getting a refill-top up after the movie and taking home a bag of popcorn for future snacks, was there? After all, it says free refills, and it doesn't say WHEN I should take advantage of that refill.

But it wasn't much fun taking home the refill popcorn. It really is the kind of product that is best when it's fresh, and I personally really only enjoy popcorn during movies. This got me thinking. What if I didn't take my bag home with refilled popcorn? What is I just brought home the bag, and held onto it for the next movies? What if I reused the same bag for future movies, and future dates? Is this ethical, just plain tacky, or SB behavior at it's finest?

Here's how I think about it. I'm offered a bag that comes with free refills at a premium price. The company must know that it's not really an offer that more people take advantage of, aside from teenagers, and maybe some clever parents who use the free refill trick to distribute little cups of popcorn to their kids inside the theater. If I really, really, really loved popcorn and refilled my bag 2 or even 3 times during a movie, I would be well within my rights. And I do just that, I just don't refill it during the same movie.

Now, I do have limits. Usually I only use my bag for one future refill. At that point, the bag starts to get a bit wrinkly, and I only wish to be a minor scam artist, not a major one. I feel technically, I am not really doing anything too wrong, as there are no signs or fine print anywhere that I can see. However, I also know that the deal does not in any way mean that if you buy a large popcorn once, you get free refills of popcorn for life. Therefore, I rather think I am dancing around a bit of an ethical line, and I'm pretty sure that this is a bit more tacky than strictly SB behavior. But I don't let that bother me. I know this refill behavior encourages me to go to the movies a bit more often than I normally would, as I know that I can have the full movie experience, hot popcorn and all, for an overall reduced price than if I paid for a small or regular popcorn every time I sent. And, of course, every time anyone enters a theater, the company has accomplished their goal and made money and spread advertising. So I'm not terribly worried. However, it's not necessarily the kind of thing I brag about!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

SB wins 1st prize at local pot luck!

As you all know from previous postings, I have a love of the humble pot luck dinner - I love contributing, eating, participating in them, and they are a great exercise for an SB in training. When my local running store announced a pot luck party following a charity run, with the winner to receive a $25 gift card, I knew the prize must be mine.

I picked an easy dish that I knew I could make from memory (corn chowder), and jazzed it up to make it even more luxurious. The additional of real cream to the broth (stolen from my husband's coffee), and fresh corn nibblets grated directly off the cob made it fantastic. I mashed half the potatoes to make the texture even more creamy, and threw in a dash of nutmeg (THE ingredient to make any dish fantastic!). I have to say, it was my best batch of chowder ever. The ingredients cost a bit more than my usual batch of chowder (the cream, fresh corn, extra butter), but it was a worthy investment for a pot luck and didn't cost my anymore than if I had created a lasagna, etc... To top it all off, my husband made a cute sign on the computer for me, advertising it as a "creamy, Cape Breton style corn chowder", with the words spelled out with corn cob pictures. I poured it in the crock pot and brought along a bowl of fresh popcorn to serve as an alternative topping to croƻtons.

The reviews were rave! Mine was the only hot dish there in a sea of pleasant, but pizazz-lacking deserts. I was thrilled to win the $25 dollar prize and it was all well worth my efforts and cost, as I also filed up on donated bagels, nachos, juice, etc... Being the savvy SB I am, I volunteered to help clean up, and netted a case of juice, 2 doz/leftover bagels and (oddly enough), a case of laundry detergent samples that were a gift from a promoter.

SBs - you gotta work it. Being an SB has many, many rewards

Taking it all too far??

There are not many occasions that give me pause for thought as a SB. However, being a bit of a SB when it comes to charitable events is a bit of a difficult situation. It's funny how so many folks are proud SBs when it comes to so many different aspects of their life, but when it comes to a charitable event, people forget to be even frugal or sensible, let alone an SB. They're worried they are taking it all to far. But take it from me, charitable events are MADE for an SB!

One of my favorite charities is the Tim Horton's Children's Camp program. My husband actually attended a camp as a child and, 20 years later when he returned for a visit, the staff director actually remember him! It was a fantastic experience for him, as it is for countless children in need of a great camping experience. As such, he used to drop in all his Tim Horton's change whenever he popped in for a coffee or a treat (which is quite often.) He would probably put in a few dollars there a week. Now, they are an incredibly deserving charity, but, as a clever SB, I thought of a better way.

I mandated that we start saving all our change in a big jar. Once a year, we can roll up all those pennies and dimes and submit a once-a-year cash donation to Tim Horton's, requesting a charitable receipt for income tax purposes. Even better, the key time of year to do this is in June. That is when "Camp Day" is usually held. At my local running store, they organize a free fun run/walk that ends at a local Tim Horton's to celebrate Camp Day. I happily submitted my (rather generous) donation, claimed the free T-shirts (good for around the house), completed the 3km run, and happily hung around the finish line, where Tim's graciously provided water, coffee, yogurt parfaits, and Tim Bits. I lagged around for quite some time, until the last of the runners came in, for the prize draw. A lot of people had gone home at this time, and virtually everyone who remained was awarded a prize. We got a $10 gift card. I also ate and drank so much, I didn't need supper, and took a yogurt home for work the next day.

A stingy person would have participated in the event without donating to charity. A bitch would have taken the lion's share of treats and taken off right away. But an SB cleverly plans, maximizes her donation power, happily remains behind to cheer on all runners, and is delighted to accept yet another serving of treats and is overjoyed to win a prize. It pays to be an SB.