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In the small lobby of our small office is a small candy dish. It is always full of the good stuff, not that 18-pounds-for-five-bucks individually wrapped butterscotch and starlight mint hard-candy collection left over from 1946 because no one likes that crap anymore. I greet people who come in to the office, and from where I sit I can see them coming and leaving. The candy is there, freely available to anyone who would like some, no permission required. As a sort of ice breaker, we often ask people to help themselves to the candy when they come in. Their behavior around the candy dish is a shortcut to their personalities.

She comes through the door like she’s doing you a favor, grabs a few pieces of candy and quickly unwraps and pops them in her mouth, tosses the wrappers on the floor next to the small trash can, asks if you have any tea other than the eight kinds (caffeinated and not) on display, and leaves the torn tea and sugar packets on the table. She never drinks more than a few sips of the tea. In fact, she has to put down the Starbucks cup she walked in with so that she can assemble her cup of tea. She leaves the barely touched, lipstick-stained tea cup on the table because other people have cleaned up her messes her whole life. If it’s there, no matter what it is, she’s going to get hers so no one else can. On her way out the door, she grabs a couple more pieces of candy, too busy, apparently, to turn around and say goodbye.

It’s not for me, really
Before opening the door, she half knocks, as if to ask permission to come in the office that is open to the public. As she walks by, she glances sideways at the candy dish that she knows so well, but doesn’t approach it. After she’s had her meeting, she walks almost to the door, pauses, turns around to the candy dish, and asks, shyly, “Is it okay if I take a couple of these for my kids out in the car?” I let her believe that I don’t know it’s the middle of a school day on a Wednesday. Although I’ve repeatedly assured her that nothing would make me happier than that she help herself to all the candy she wants, she’s still making excuses for taking the candy as the door closes behind her.

I’ll never see you again
As he barges through the door, all but throwing the phone book he’s delivering – the one he knows you don’t want – he grabs a handful of candy without saying a word and stuffs it in the pocket of his jacket that has never been assaulted by the inside of a washing machine. He’s done the same thing for three years now.

What the hell, I’m not fooling anyone
“Oooh, Almond Roca.” crunch crunch “Hi, I have a 2:00 appointment.” crunch crunch “Where should I throw” crunch “this wrapper?”

Me. Always. It’s always about me.
Between mouthfuls of candy: “Oh, god. I wish you would move this candy dish. I’m on a diet and every time I come here I can’t resist the candy dish. I’m so stressed right now. One piece won’t hurt, right? Oh, god, my diet!”

Minding my own business
He comes in, holds the door so it shuts gently and quietly, acknowledges my presence, and sits down. I ask if he’d like coffee, tea, water, candy, anything? Please help yourself. “No, thank you. I’m fine.” After a few minutes, without looking my direction in the next room, he quietly half-stands and reaches for the candy dish. He quickly glances my direction to see if I’m looking, but I pretend I don’t notice and keep on working. He quietly unwraps the candy and puts the wrapper in his pocket.

And, my favorite kind of person:

This is who I am
“Yay! Candy! Can I have some? I love candy. You know what, I’m going to take a few pieces. That’s okay, right?”