A few weeks ago, I stopped into my local State Farm office to steal a cup of coffee. You might recall me talking about it here. But that was merely the tip of the iceberg. Immediately afterwards, I started plotting something even more daring. What would happen if I walked past somebody dining outdoors at the restaurant around the corner, I wondered, and grabbed a tater tot off their plate? I decided that I absolutely, positively had to do this. Call me a daredevil. A prankster. A student of human nature.
I make really weird bucket lists, I know.
Because it’s easy to talk yourself out of doing something unless there is accountability, I told a whole bunch of coworkers about my plan. Even though they had witnessed me pilfering coffee firsthand, not a single one believed I would actually steal somebody’s food right off their plate. Which made me want to do it that much more.
Every day, multiple times a day, I walk around the block to stretch my legs. I go right past this restaurant, so I had plenty of time to scope things out and formulate a plan. I approached the task with the seriousness of a runner preparing for his first marathon, and considered myself “in training” for the big event. Because the weather has been so ridiculously warm this past month, there were frequently diners sitting at the outdoor tables – but for one reason or another, the situation was never ideal. Their tables were empty, or a busboy was clearing their plates, or they were eating something difficult to grab, like soup. Or they looked like they might murder me. [My one hard-and fast rule: don’t get murdered.]
And then, today happened.
I walked past the restaurant, and there were two separate tables with diners eating tater tots. I still wasn’t 100% sure I was going to do it, but then a coworker wanted to grab coffee. I told her that sounded good, but we had to walk past the restaurant so I could steal a tater tot. Naturally, she did not believe I was going to do this.
Hey, Sarah: told ya so!
We walked by, and the same two pairs of diners were still there. The first ones were paying their check, and the tots were gone. Dammit. But the second pair were still there. Deep in conversation, laughing and taking sips of water. Right there, in between them, a half-full plate of tater tots beckoned.
It’s now or never, I thought.
Previously, when I’d planned this out, I figured my safest bet would be to grab a tater tot and run. Because, remember: don’t get murdered. But in the heat of the moment, I threw sense and logic out the door. Instead, I was amazingly calm. I stopped in my tracks, casually reached over, snatched a tater tot from their plate, and held it up for them to see, acknowledging the fact that it was, indeed, right there clutched between my fingers and not on their plate, where it belonged. I even grabbed it with my left hand, which I feel should earn me bonus points.
“Thank you,” I said politely. Then I turned and strolled away.
The looks on their faces were priceless. They stared at me, wide-eyed, caught between anger, amusement, and amazement. I think they were trying to decide whether to yell at me or burst out laughing. In fact, they never did say a word, just stared at me as I walked away with their stolen tot.
I mean, what do you say in a situation like that? If it had been me, I probably would have laughed.
Sarah, my coworker who witnessed the whole incident, was astounded by my bravado. “I never thought you’d actually do it!” she said.
“I told you I would,” I replied. And that sums me up in a nutshell. If I put my mind to something, you can take it to the bank that I am going to go through with it. My word is gold. I try not to worry what other people think, and I am not afraid to step outside my comfort zone. Even at the risk of public humiliation. I rarely back away from a dare. I’m like Marty McFly in Back To The Future. Call me “chicken” and I’ll do my very best to prove you wrong.
I figure I did those diners a favor. Now they have a great story to tell their friends and family. You’ll never believe what happened one time when we went out to lunch! We were eating tater tots when a stranger walked by and grabbed one right off our plate. Can you believe the nerve of that guy?! They’ll get mileage out of the retelling for years to come.
You’re welcome, strangers.
As for me, I’m feeling pretty immortal these days.
When I got back to the office, after showing the tater tot to my disbelieving coworkers, I ate it. It turned out to be a sweet potato tater tot, which I’d never had before. It tasted extra delicious.
And best of all, I did not get murdered.