Sunday, November 30, 2008

12 Guilt-Free Things You Should Be Stealing From Work

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: ,

comic 67 - confession

Let me preface this by saying that I do not in any way condone stealing things that don’t belong to you. I do, however, thoroughly condone stretching the definition of “belonging to you” to include some things which don’t really belong to anyone, like love and air, but not things like national monuments (I’m talking to you, Carmen Sandiego).

There’s always a bit of a gray area when it comes to taking things that are “free.” Yes, those apartment guides in the grocery store say they’re free, but does that mean you should take all 47 of them? On the one hand, it would be kinda funny to do it, and you’d have a little less competition for apartments which might impact rental prices in the long run. On the other hand, don’t be a dumbass; just take five or six copies like everyone else.

There’s probably no grayer area in the “free stuff” world than in the workplace. After all, there’s just tons of stuff lying around, begging to be absconded with. And if you’re like me and you work for a large, faceless multinational corporation, none of that stuff really belongs to anybody per se. In fact, if you own stock in your own company, then technically some of those computers and light fixtures and floor tiles belong to you. And who would blame you for taking your fair share?

Well, apparently a lot of people would because stealing things from work is generally considered to be illegal. If you try to walk out the front door with a dozen desktop computers under your arms… your grotesque, inhumanly powerful arms… you’re probably going to get stopped by security. At the very least, when someone notices they’re gone, you’ll probably show up on no less than 28 surveillance cameras walking out with the stolen goods.

That said, there really are some workplace items you shouldn’t feel bad about walking away with on occasion either because they’re worth so little or because everyone else does it. Here’s a list of some of those things you practically have a duty to gank from your job.

  1. Electricity. Are you still charging your cell phone at home like a stupid hobo? (No offense, hobos.) If so, and you use your phone to make even one work-related call a year, you should be charging it at your desk instead. In fact, I don’t think anyone will blame you if you just ran an extension cord a few miles down the road to your residence since you wouldn’t have all these electrical gadgets to begin with if your job didn’t pay you the money you used to buy them!
  2. Water. If your workplace has free exercise facilities, chances are it also has showers. Even if exercising isn’t your cup of tea, you can still take advantage of workplace shower facilities to cut down on hot water consumption at home.
  3. Housing. Still renting or paying a mortgage like a stupid hobo? (Really, I don’t mean to offend you hobos.) Why do that when you’ve got a perfectly good office or cubicle that just sits unoccupied each night while you’re at home in your so-called “comfy bed.”
  4. Internet. Let me be totally clear here: internet surfing during work is a big no-no; internet browsing at work after hours might not be so bad. Now if you’re gonna be looking at the pornographies, do yourself a favor and use someone else’s computer in case your network admin logs that kind of stuff. Just be sure to clean up after you’re done. Clean up your browsing activity, that is. Ew.
  5. Disk space. While we’re talking computers, I bet your work computer has gobs of unused disk space on it. After all, how much space can a few dozen spreadsheets take up? Assuming it’s not against company policy, you could use some of that extra space to backup your important personal files. It’s cheaper than using a commercial backup solution. But again, keep your dirty pictures somewhere else… like at my house.
  6. Desk candy. Some of your co-workers may be nice enough to leave small dishes of candy on their desks for people who walk by to take a piece. If your company has you working until 9pm without giving you a break for dinner, those candies can serve as a handy substitute for real nutrition.
  7. Storage. This doesn’t apply to those of you who actually use your office or cubicle’s space for storing work items. But I know plenty of you administrative types have nothing but empty lockable drawers that you like to pretend are full of important papers. Why not use some of that space to store books, old clothes, and other stuff you don’t want cluttering up your house? (Not that you even need a house if your office is that spacious…)
  8. Scrap paper. If you have young, artistic kids, you probably have to buy them a ream or two of copy paper every other week to satisfy their scribbling habits. (You know: draw draw draw, throw paper away. Draw draw, erase, rip up paper.) Stop wasting perfectly good new paper on them and just bring home whatever you can fish out of the workplace recycling bins. Just be careful what scrap paper you decide to give to your kids as you wouldn’t want them showing off their doodles to classmates drawn on the other side of top secret engineering schematics.
  9. Toilet paper. In general, you should be doing about 75% of your toileting at work anyway. You’ll find that doing so will really cut down on your household’s TP consumption. I’m pretty religious about my workplace potty break; stop by stall #2 on the third floor around 12:15 some day and say hi!
  10. Old magazines. Sure, they’re a little used and out-of-date, but those three-week-old magazines sitting in your office building’s lobby or waiting room would just get thrown away eventually anyway. Take them home instead and catch up on world events with such first-class publications as Time, Newsweek, and Soap Opera Digest.
  11. Expired holiday decorations. Does your workplace decorate for the holidays? And if so, does it throw out those decorations every year? A quick trip to the dumpster on December 26th could save you a boatload on Christmas decorations next year. Heck, stop by work early on December 25th and pick them up before someone else gets the same idea!
  12. Landscape. You may not realize it, but that finely groomed campus landscaping you see outside your window at work probably costs more money each month than you make in a year. I think that entitles you to make off with some posies and maybe a few small bushes.

What, were you expecting me to say that it’s okay to walk out with reams of stationery and a truckload of LCD monitors? Sorry to disappoint you, but I bet you’ll still save a lot of money if you pilfer these items. Plus you probably won’t go to jail… unless you’ve got one of those psychotic bosses who constantly inventories the toilet paper in the restroom and chastises everyone for using too much. And if you have one of those bosses, you may want to quit and find a better job.

Oh, and don’t forget to steal everything that isn’t nailed down on your way out.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How Krispy Kreme and Starbucks Gave Obama The Election (With Bonus Freebie Quest!)

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: ,

comic 66 - ballot questions

Bear with me for a second while I spout some nonsensical conspiracy theories.

As most of you already knew from reading so-called “reputable news sites,” Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, and various other retailers gave away freebies on Election Day to people bearing “I Voted” stickers. You might think such a move is a generous or perhaps foolish offer on the part of these companies, but in reality they’ll more than make up the loss from people who show up only for the freebie but end up purchasing something to go with it. However, these companies may have a more sinister agenda hidden deep in these promotions.

Think about it for a second. Who is most likely to take up Starbucks on the offer of a free cup of coffee? Rich people making more than $250,000 a year? No! It’s us retarded members of the lower and middle class who think that a $1.50 cup of coffee or an 89-cent doughnut is worth waiting in line for 20 minutes to get for free. And despite the fact that voting should be our proud patriotic duty, I’m sure there are a good number of folks who had no intention of voting until all of these freebie offers started popping up in the last week. Thus, thanks to companies like Starbucks and Krispy Kreme, there are more members of non-wealthy classes voting this election.

And while I won’t say something as scandalous as “Poorer, freebie-snatching people will tend to vote for Barack Obama,” I will say that there’s a small possibility that these promotions helped shape the course of history this election. At the very least, they helped make Election Day a little tastier.

I will gladly admit to partaking in as many Election Day freebies as was geographically possible, including stops to more than one Starbucks (even though I rarely drink coffee), and trips to Krispy Kreme, Ben & Jerry’s, and Chick-Fil-A. In the end, I spent over 2 hours driving and in line and used a gallon of $2.50 gasoline to net about $5 worth of free food and beverage. It was a horrible time investment unless you consider that I feel it’s my patriotic duty to screw big businesses out of profits however possible. After all, it’s the American way, or something.

Not satisfied with my haul of two coffees, a cup of ice cream, a doughnut, and a chicken sandwich, I decided to see if any other businesses not actively advertising Election Day giveaways would nonetheless give me something for free. Thus, I spent an extra two hours on Election Day visiting various shops, going up to the front counter and simply saying, “I voted. Will you give me something for free?” Proudly displaying my “I Voted! Yo Voté!” sticker, here’s what happened at the 20 places I visited on Election Day requesting unadvertised freebies.

  • The employees at Bloom, a local supermarket chain, looked at me a little funny, suggested I go to the Starbucks down the street or down Aisle 1 for a free sample of cheese, but didn’t give me anything else.
  • The Fantastic Sams hair salon just said they didn’t have any Election Day offers. They also pointed out that I don’t have enough hair to warrant a hair cut anyway.
  • Aardvark Swim and Sport didn’t offer any freebies, but there was a hot lady there about to try on a swimsuit. I considered hanging around to help her decide if it was right for her, but I wouldn’t let myself be distracted from my mission!
  • Dunkin Donuts didn’t match Starbuck’s free coffee offer or Krispy Kreme’s free doughnut offer. It was pretty busy at the time, so I left without much fuss.
  • Blockbuster Video gave me a coupon for a free rental! I was the only person at the checkout counter at the time, and the cashier slipped it to me quietly, probably so that I would just go away. Too bad I don’t have a Blockbuster membership. I gave the coupon to my co-worker so he can rent all his favorite Hannah Montana episodes.
  • Classic Beer & Wine gave me nothing. I was really sad. I bought a beer and drank it in the parking lot as I cried.
  • And to local readers who recognize what shopping center I was in up to this point, yes, I hit the Forbidden Fruit adult goods shop. I’m sort of glad they turned down my request for freebies.
  • Down the road a bit, those crazy folks at FedEx/Kinko’s offered me a free color photocopy! I asked if I could photocopy the doughnut I had just gotten from Krispy Kreme. They said no. P.S. The girl behind the counter was really hot.
  • GameStop countered my request for a freebie with an offer to reserve the latest Guitar Hero title for just five dollars down. I countered with playing their Nintendo Wii demo station for free for ten minutes.
  • Panera Bread pointed me to some free samples they normally offer. I asked for an entire loaf of bread for free. The cashier joked that even Obama and McCain wouldn’t get a freebie like that. I replied, “Oh, so Panera Bread supports third-party candidates. Good for you!” and left.
  • Palm Beach Tan gave me nothing and tried to sell me a $300 tanning package. I jokingly replied, “What, I’m not dark-skinned enough for you?” The black saleslady didn’t really like that comment.
  • Wing Stop gave me one free French fry. “Times are tough,” the chef commented. I thanked him kindly.
  • The hostess at Cheeburger Cheeburger offered to buy me a free ice cream soda if I could name all five members of the Rockville City Council but said I’d have to buy her one if I was wrong. Apparently “John Britton, those three old ladies, and the crazy guy with the funny name” wasn’t good enough for her. I didn’t feel bad because three other people in line behind me couldn’t name them either.
  • Chipotle, which is usually pretty good about giving free stuff away once in a while, gave me nothing. I suspect things would have been a little different if this were the Mexican presidential election…
  • Long & Foster offered to provide me with a free market competitiveness thingy that included an approximate idea of the value of my home. Not wanting to know exactly how much value my house has lost since I bought it in 2006, I said thanks but no thanks.
  • Krispy Kreme reminded me that I had just gotten a free doughnut from them 10 minutes earlier. I asked if I could get another free doughnut if I voted again. They said no.
  • TownHouse Furniture indicated that they didn’t sell anything worth less than $50 in the whole store, but they said they’d throw in a free cup of coffee if I bought a thousand-dollar couch. I declined their offer.
  • Art and Framing Depot offered 15% off a custom framing job! I asked if they had a frame small enough for my “I Voted!” sticker. They said yes but added that it would be a special offer and quoted me $72 for it. I passed.
  • While I was hoping Bank of America would slip me a few Benjamins, they instead offered to set me up with a “free checking account.” When I said that I already had one, they pointed me to a dish of candy. I took eight pieces and left.
  • And finally, the employee cafeteria where I work offered me nothing. The chef said he hoped I voted for Obama.

Please note that I didn’t expect that any of these places would actually give me freebies since they didn’t advertise any, so the fact that most of them refused is perfectly within their rights—and it’s probably for the best as giving one person something for free would have meant having to give something for free at least to everyone else in the store at the time. In fact, those few places that actually did give me something for free, while they could be commended for their excellent customer service, probably shouldn’t have.

So my thanks go to Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, Ben & Jerry’s, Chik-Fil-A, and the rest for helping me fill my belly on Election Day. And congratulations to Barack Obama for actually wanting to clean up the horrendous mess made by the current administration; you’re a much braver man than I.