The College Student and the Irrational Attachment to Free Stuff

Last semester I discovered something truly magical about the internet–the internet is this insane web filled not only with cat videos and “adult content” but with links to places that will send you FREE STUFF.

Now, I’m not talking the kinds of things I really want, like free books or free clothes or free kittens. Better yet, free book contracts. But there’s something alluring nevertheless about the idea that you can click on a button, enter an address, and receive something in the mail for free. Or for the price of those pesky emails you delete out of your spam box every morning with a chuckle because for some reason you’re unhinged enough to find spam kind of hilarious (ChristianMingle.com? Who do they think I am? Free Diapers? They’re really getting mixed signals here, aren’t they?).

Anyway, within a few weeks of my “free shit” spree, the mail began to arrive. It usually comes a piece at a time, a little envelope with a few bandaids and a coupon one day, a trial packet of tea the next. Sometimes with days in between I wait in agony for my next sweet nothing to arrive in our little college mailbox.

There’s just something about STUFF showing up with my name on it that really gets me. I mean, it’s universally acknowledged that most college students are so poor they do things like eat meals that consist of rice left over from their roommate’s other meals (with permission, of course). And yet, I take those steps out to my mailbox and there’s a (tiny) box of granola! Or a trial packet of chocolate Cream of Wheat! I do wonder, now that I think on it, how much my fixation on tiny things weighs in to my sample obsession, but let’s not over-psychoanalyze here.

And did I mention these samples almost invariably come with COUPONS? So if I like the thing, I can go out and I can get MORE OF THAT THING. For LESS, even. It makes me feel like a very super secret special member of a special club. Even though I know that I am simply a walking dollar sign to the senders. The trick’s on them, though. I’m entirely too poor for anyone to profit from me. 

So there you have it. A little glimpse inside the strange workings of my sad little mind. Happy Tuesday!

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