Restaurant Condiments Come in Handy in a Jam

Andrea Freedman

A few years ago, when my grandmother started taking the little jams home when we used to go out to restaurants together I confess that at first I found it a bit embarrassing.

On one occasion when we were out for lunch together, before we had even gotten settled at our table and had not yet ordered our food, she asked one of the waitresses if she would please bring her some jams. I was mortified as I watched the confused look on the waitress’s face.

I used to try to reason with my grandmother that she had jams and other such items in her fridge at home and that she did not need to take the ones from the restaurant home with her.

She protested that the jams were not actually for her own use, but rather for the lady who came in to help her a couple of days a week (“my sweetie” as she called her), so that she could give her a bagel with a take-home jam when she left to ensure that the woman would be able to have something to eat before going to her next job.

Although I eventually got over my embarrassment and got used to the routine with the jams, and despite my grandmother’s prodding, I nonetheless resisted taking any of the condiments home myself, explaining to her that it was more acceptable to do things like that at her age.

I must admit that there have been a few occasions when I was eating peanut butter at home and realized that I had run out of jam to accompany it. I wished then that I had listened to my wise grandmother after all when she urged me to also put some of those little packets of jam into my purse; they would have really come in handy.

Besides my grandmother, I have known some other seniors, and even a few people who are no where even near retirement age who are also in the habit of collecting restaurant condiments.

Go into any one of their homes and you will likely find containers or mugs filled with little salt, pepper and sugar packets, as well as plastic cutlery, ketchups and of course, in my grandmother’s case, jam. And there are always plenty of napkins, all of course acquired from restaurants and coffee shops.

Upon reflection, it could save a lot of money; however, I can imagine the horrified looks on my friends’ faces if they were to see me trying to smuggle restaurant condiments into my purse.

Recently, I saw an old lady at the grocery store tearing the stems off the peppers. When she saw me looking at her curiously she offered an explanation. “It gets rid of some of the excess weight so it’s not as expensive.”

The thing is elderly people can get away with little things like taking condiments and mutilating produce in stores. Something that hopefully comes with age is being able to let go of caring what other people think.

Many elderly people have spent much of their lives being tactful and discreet, not to mention all the money they have spent on groceries, condiments and dining out. They’ve paid their dues, monetarily and otherwise.

Now that my grandmother has moved to a nursing home she no longer needs the packages of jam and so, my opportunity, for the time being anyway, to take restaurant condiments home with me has been put on hold. I will have to wait until my parents start doing it – and believe me, I am in no rush for that to happen.

These days I enjoy weekly visits with my grandmother at her new residence but I still miss those times when she and I used to be able to go out to restaurants together and if I could have another chance I would gladly let her talk me into taking some jam home with me.

Since I can no longer let her coax me into taking restaurant condiments, not to mention all the other things she used to offer me when I used to visit her at her apartment, I at least let her convince me to have a piece of the chocolate that she now keeps handy in her room.

Someday perhaps I too will fill my purse with restaurant condiments but for the time being I will just have to continue adding things like jam to my grocery list.

Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2013

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About andfreed

I am a Toronto based writer of articles, columns, essays and novels.

Posted on October 15, 2013, in Weekly Thoughts and Observations and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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