A man just offered to give me some free mashed potato.
I was in EAT near Covent Garden and had ordered one of the pies. He asked if I also wanted mash and gravy, and I said no because the mash in EAT is always a bit gluey in texture, and I don’t like eating from those cardboard boxes as the sides are too high and you have to adopt a more vertical approach to eating than is ideal.
He put the pie on a plate, which instantly removed one of my reasons for refusing mash, and I considered having mash after all.
Then he offered me the mash for free.
Now, there are several possible explanations for this:
Had I accepted the mash, then I could have accidentally encouraged his sexual interest in me; made myself look like I was a charity case; or announced that I was a proud fool unwilling to back down over even the simplest of things.
I did not accept the free mash.
As I carried my tray over to one of the many free tables, I watched the staff begin to clear up. I sat down. Tables around me were wiped clean. Containers holding sachets of condiments were replenished. The chiller cabinets of cold drinks were refilled. People were being turned away at the door. Of the four possible explanations for the free mash offer, the “they were about to close” option looked increasingly likely.
I had thought myself out of some free mash. Fortunately, I wasn’t that hungry, and it would probably have been gluey anyway.