Is She A Thief? My Grandmother Takes Ketchup And Cream From Restaurants.


Perusing all the articles I missed this week around the personal finance world, I came across this one over at Silicone Vally Blogger that reminded me of something. (And just pointed out that the original discussion about this was over at Money, Matter and More Musings…thanks SVB!) When I was visiting my grandmother earlier this week, we were discussing eating out at restaurants and she mentioned how she always takes the little coffee creamers and ketchup packets whenever she can get them. I asked her why she takes them if she doesn’t really need them and she said “just in case”. Mind you, this is a woman who by no means needs to take these things…she has plenty of money, lives on her own, drives her own car and takes care of herself just fine, thank you. She does not need to steal anything to get by. She just likes taking them for their convenience. Does it have something to do with going through the Depression? Who knows…all I know is that there are creamers and ketchup packs in her kitchen from restaurants all across town.

I cannot figure it out. Is this a frugal act for most people? Criminal behavior? Or just convenience? Is it right? No, I don’t think so, as you are really only supposed to use what you need for the food you buy. But my grandmother is 95 going on 96 and is neither frugal nor a thief. So what gives?

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Comments (8)

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  1. David,
    I think if you do it on occasion and actually use/consume the packets, creamers and so forth quickly, it shouldn’t be an issue. I wouldn’t call that thievery (I think everyone picks up a couple of these sachets to use later). However, hoarding it and then not using the packets just for “the sake of it” can probably be considered unethical especially if it causes companies to pass these costs over to consumers and for everyone else to bear. The original discussion on this article is over at Money, Matter and More Musings. Here’s the link (I’m not linking from here for fear that I may end up in your spam queue): http://www.thetaoofmakingmoney.com/2007/08/21/477.html

  2. OOoops. Seems like the link just automagically happened when I listed the url. 🙂 enjoy.

  3. david says:

    Thanks, I linked to the original article…thanks for pointing that out!

  4. I have to agree with Digerati Life, I don’t have a problem with it if you actually use the ketchup. One or two extra packets is no big deal. However, grabbing a whole handful, just to be taking them, is a problem.

  5. cooking4two says:

    You know, I think this one may be somewhat subjective. I think the cost of a few packets of ketchup or a few coffee creamers is worked into the menu item’s cost and isn’t excessive, unexpected or morally wrong in any sense. So if you use, say, one pack of ketchup, but not the other two or so you picked up, then by all means, take them home. It’s certainly better than just throwing them out, which is what the majority of people do.

    However, if you’re asking for/taking extra condiments above and beyond what is reasonable for whatever you have in front of you, then yes, it seems it leans on the side of ‘wrong’ in my mind.

    I’m a new subscriber and I love the blog, I’m glad I found you!

  6. david says:

    Thanks cooking4two and prince of thrift, appreciate the comments.

  7. Kellie says:

    I would say it probably is a result of her going through the Depression. Old habits are hard to break. I don’t think she intentionally doesn’t use them. She’s almost 96 and undoubtedly has been through a lot in her life and seen a whole world of changes, issues, etc that we will never encounter in our lives – so I’m okay with her taking a few condiment packets for “just in case” 🙂

    How do you feel about taking those little soaps, shampoos, and conditioners in hotel rooms? 😉

  8. david says:

    The stuff from the hotel – if it has been touched, sometimes they throw it all away, so you might as well take it!

    But if it sat there untouched during your entire stay, you should probably leave it so they don’t have to replace it 🙂

    I think that’s fair!