A stranger and his friends who were sitting next to me in the Starbucks asked me if I knew the difference between right and wrong. Or maybe he said good or bad. I can’t remember. Is there a difference? Between the words right and wrong and the words good and bad, I mean. I’m not asking if there exists some disparity between the concept of right and the concept of wrong, or the concept of good and the concept of bad. Obviously, these things are opposites of one another. I’m just not certain I know what exactly the other differences might be, aside from the fact that they are opposing concepts.

I spoke to the stranger for a while. There are the big moral ones, I told him. I know those, I remember them. Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife. After quite a bit of discussion, however, I came to believe that it may not be too unheard of that there are understandable exceptions to these rules. Perhaps thou shalt not kill unless, and thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife unless. For example, thou shalt not kill if thy brother-in-law accidentally crashes your car into a ditch whilst foolishly operating the car during a period of heavy intoxication. Thy brother-in-law meant no harm, he is just an alcoholic, or maybe he is even addicted to sniffing glue. Regardless of his chosen intoxicant, thy brother-in-law is a moron, but a moron who did not intend to cause the damage he did indeed cause. Therefore, thou shalt not kill the moron. However, thou should perhaps consider killing thy brother-in-law if one day you discover him raping your seven-year-old daughter. Thy brother-in-law is a bad person in this hypothetical, and certainly deserving of thy wrath and the punishment of death. Further, thy seven-year-old daughter might also require death at this point, as thou may not want thy daughter living out the rest of her life having experienced incestuous rape. One might argue that killing thy daughter at this point would be morally justifiable, just as one might put a bullet in the head of a deer, to put it out of its misery after the deer has been maimed by a speeding car. While the killing of thy daughter could potentially go either way in a court of ethics, killing thy brother-in-law is irrefutably justifiable. I suppose it’s possible some might claim killing is never well-founded, but these are the same sissies who would argue that thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, even if thy own wife is in the habit of throwing ashtrays made of thick glass at thy head when she is feeling ignored, which she frequently claims to feel, even though thy wife refuses to perform her marital duties, stating that her marital duties “feel like rape.”

So, because there are apparent special case scenarios imbedded in the large moral rules we as a society agree to, I answered that no, I do not know the difference between right and wrong, or good and bad. Immediately following my response, there were many gasps and looks of befuddlement, and I knew at that moment that I’d chosen the incorrect answer. “Yes,” I should have said. “There is quite a clear distinction between those two concepts. What a silly question!” But I did not say that, and now everyone around the table at Starbucks was glancing at one another.

“One cannot simply create his own set of rules because he does not care for the rules the rest of society follows,” one man said to me.

“No, of course not,” I said, attempting to backtrack. “I’m just saying there are grey areas.”

“There are no grey areas,” the man said.

“There are the laws, and there are the people who choose to break them,” another man said.

“Are you under the impression that I’ve broken a law?” I asked.

“I noticed you’ve stolen a number of sugar packets from the sugar and cream stand,” the first man said.

“That sugar is free,” I said. “Starbucks gave it to me.”

“You aren’t using it in your coffee, though. You’re clearly taking it with you for some other purpose. You can’t just take sugar you don’t plan to put in the coffee you purchased,” the second man said.

“You can’t?” I asked.

As it turned out, you absolutely cannot just take the sugar. That’s one of the big rules, the men in the Starbucks told me, following closely those rules dictating our freedom to kill and covet our neighbors’ wives.

I can’t help but think these men, in refusing to take the sugar on moral grounds, are living very limited lives.

The end.

TAGS: , , , , , ,

Lenore Zion's first book, "My Dead Pets are Interesting," was published by TNB Books in 2011. She was an original contributor to The Nervous Breakdown. Zion's second book, "Stupid Children," was published by Emergency Press in February of 2013. Zion has a doctorate in clinical psychology, a degree which spawned her interest in psychological abnormalities. Her specialty is the treatment of sexual pathology and her dissertation focused on the paraphilias - sexual impulse disorders that include exhibitionism, pedophilia, fetishism, sadism, masochism, and frotteurism, among others. She lives in Los Angeles.

178 responses to “You Must Not Take the Sugar”

  1. Tom Hansen says:

    Oh WOW. I like the way your mind works Lenore. Those stupid men were clearly not writers, or they would have known it’s totally acceptable to kill at times. In fact, if they’d been a little more self-aware, they would have been trembling in their Birkenstocks, wondering when you were gonna pull out a .45 and plug them

    • Lenore Zion says:

      i would have settled on an admission that the sugar was free for the taking. anyway, i would have won the debate if i didn’t have to get back to work. i just didn’t have enough time to use their strangled world view against them.

  2. Zara Potts says:

    This is so weird! I was just having this conversation about grey moral areas the other day.

    It was put to me that oftentimes, personal ethics or morals are based on what people know is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and that they act according to those societal norms. However, if they didn’t actually care about what was ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ or somehow didn’t know it, then they would act completely differently. Like sociopaths – who may know what’s conventionally accepted to be right but they don’t care and simply take or do what they want and bugger the rules and laws and morals. I think we all may have just a touch of sociopath in us.

    I think you are entitled to take as much sugar as you like. If they put out baskets of sachets then they are inviting you to take as many as you want. I certainly do. That’s how I ended up with a whole zodiac of sugar packets. Starbucks kindly printed little star signs on the back of its sugar sachets and I combed through the basket until I got the whole twelve signs. They wanted me to. I know they did.

    • Lenore Zion says:

      i love when you say “bugger.”

      i know many people who seem to think that the only reason people act morally is because laws are in place to punish us if we don’t. the hobbes thing, i guess. people break the laws if the punishment is an easy one to tolerate (speeding dangerously, etc) and if the punishment is daunting, the corresponding law is followed obediently by all those not insane enough to push their luck. i’ve never personally had the desire to kill another person, but i’ve never been faced with such horror that i might be forced to consider it, either.

      however, there is no punishment currently set in place to reprimand those who take more sugar than they intend to use. therefore, there is no reason whatsoever for me to control myself. instead, i think of it as a halloween bowl left outside on the doorstep. all that shit is mine.

  3. Slade Ham says:

    “One cannot simply create his own set of rules because he does not care for the rules the rest of society follows”

    Yes one can.


    Have I said this before?

    Second Guy is a very boring, very miserable human being… that has no idea the amount of sugar he could have if he would just stop being a stickler for the stupid rules and steal some free stuff every now and again.

    Also, you are wrong for going to Starbucks in the first place. There are probably tons of locally owned coffee shops within a block of that shitty chain. I mean, I go to a SB every now and again too, but…

    Second Guy still sucks.

  4. D.R. Haney says:

    Much of the business of law is taken up with interpretation. The language of law aims for perfect clarity, yet, with rare exception, enough ambiguity remains that any number of arguments can be submitted as to a particular law’s meaning. Hence precedents and so on.

    Anyway, there’s always a lot of grey area. Also, somebody ought to tell that fat fuck to read Nietzsche.

    • Lenore Zion says:

      on many occasions i’ve attempted to read legal writing, and i can’t understand a word of it without having my friend eric (who is a lawyer) translate it for me. it might as well be written in wingdings or whatever. it’s a wonder anyone makes any sense of it at all.

      and yes, the fat fuck should certainly commit to reading some nietzsche, though he might need to start with something closer to “dick and jane.”

  5. Nathaniel Missildine says:

    Starbucks once wrote the name “Nab” on the top of my chai. I think I had a cold at the time and they misheard Nat. Either way, I’ve since taken it as a greenlight to help myself to as many sugars, napkins and stir sticks as I’d like to take home, while also applying the rule to ketchup and mustard packets and hotel soaps wherever I see them. If one day I come up with a foolproof way of stealing from the rich to give to the poor, I’ll probably just blame Starbucks. I have no time for anyone else’s moral compass.

    Except for maybe yours, because it’s always a pleasure to read your writing, as you are possibly more complex than Mona Lisa.

    • Lenore Zion says:

      i sometimes switch hotel rooms based on invented complaints, just so that i can plunder multiple hotel bathrooms and stock up on free products. also, i like to chew on the stir sticks, so i always grab a few at least.

      i’m glad you think i’m complex. how embarrassing that i can’t come up with something witty in response to that compliment. i’ll just stick with the one note in this response, and count on your continued faith in my complexity.

  6. Adam says:

    What’s against the law is wrong, and what isn’t is, by elimination, right.

    Taking sugar packets for unauthorized use is wrong, and either taking sugar packets for authorized use or leaving sugar packets is right.

    Taking sugar packets for unauthorized use is legal, yet wrong.

    Call right black and wrong white (just to be contrarian and broad-minded).

    Taking sugar packets is both black and white; it’s a gray area.

    You knew that when you sat down, but perhaps this congregation could have used the elucidation.

    • dwoz says:

      You have to factor in that there is a REASONABLE EXPECTATION on the part of the starbucks, that a certain amount of milk, creme, sugar, napkins, stirrers, mustard, ketchup, will be used by a consumer of their coffee.

      THey have built this expense into the price of the cup. There is an EXPECTATION OF CONSUMPTION.

      The condiments are provided as a gratuity for the benefit of their paying customers, NOT as parcelled units tied to individual sales.

      For every customer that uses six sugars, there’s 5 who use none. It works out. It is too petty to spend management cycles on.

      THe argument can thus be made that starbucks has PURCHASED their increased management efficiency from you by making the condiments self-serve.

      Therefore, the condiments are not there to enhance your PRODUCT ENJOYMENT. They are there to enhance your CUSTOMER ENJOYMENT.

      Take the damn sugar.

    • Lenore Zion says:

      I do love the idea of wrong being white and right being black. excellent contribution, adam.

  7. Psi says:

    Having read the comments section, i have to say…there are some (ridiculous) people who would say that blowjobs are morally wrong, too. Like i said in the parentheses, they’re ridiculous – but the point stands that it really depends on one’s perspective as to what is and isn’t right (or wrong)…which i feel might be an appropriate argument to make to the guys who argued w/ you. But not at this point, cos you really don’t want to go back and be all like, “i thought about it for a good 24 hours, and this is what i came up w/.”

    What i find REALLY awesome, though, is that they’re under the (again, ridiculous) impression that there are laws, and that because they’re laws, they must be morally sound and the “right” thing to do and live by. It used to be law that black people had fewer rights and couldn’t share the same public amenities. It used to be law that being homosexual was, well, against the law. Speaking at the most basic level, people are stupid, and because they’re stupid, they require other people to make rules for them to live by – otherwise the world is just too frightening a place because there are no controls. Also, rules stop people thinking. Maybe these people would be happier if there were a law against thought? Cos that way they’d have the perfect excuse, no obligations or questions asked. Or answered.

    • Lenore Zion says:

      true, psi, but if we follow only the laws we think are reasonable, we end up with chaos because everyone has a different idea of what is and is not reasonable. for instance, i feel completely entitled to speed and drive like an asshole at all times. because i am the most important person on the road at any moment. the hope is, the unreasonable laws would be adjusted more quickly than they are in reality.

      • Psi says:

        i don’t think driving like you own the road’s unreasonable, really. Dangerous, voiding of car insurance policies, etc., etc., yeah, but unreasonable? No. Especially if you have a pregnant women in the last stages of labour squeezing a baby (or babies) out in your backseat. i guess what i’m saying is that i tend to follow the law, but that doesn’t mean that law, because it’s law, is automatically right or best. Or really reflective of why it’s there, anyway – i mean, in law courts the line usually isn’t, “you killed someone, you broke the law which says if you kill someone you’re a bad person w/ no respect for other people”; it tends to say be, “killing’s against the law, therefore, you broke the law by killing someone.” And it’s taken for granted that it’s bad, and all, which it is…but nobody really cares to actively link it back, mostly because they don’t have to – but again, the stupid like to follow the law to the letter, w/out necessarily getting why it’s law in the first place, and it’s those people who also tend to think the law is equal to moral right, and convening it equals moral wrong. All in all, i figure the absolutists you were talking to are chumps, and you should’ve flicked sugar in their eyes – and then told them it was morally w/in your rights because you felt attacked by their excessively linear “reasoning”

  8. Simon Smithson says:

    Coincidentally, I was listening to this when this post came up:


    Man. On the one hand, what a couple of dicks. On the other hand, they get to go to sleep at night, secure in their own sense of righteousness.

    Next time feel free to point out to those guys that following the rules around them in Idaho would mean that is also illegal to ride a merry-go-round on Sundays.

    • Lenore Zion says:

      is that true? the merry-go-round thing? why do you know about this idaho law, simon? i don’t understand. did this come up during the road trip?

      • Simon Smithson says:

        Yeah, Zara got thrown in The Hole.

        Also, I looked it up on Google.

        I will point out that if I’m being entirely honest, in my opinion, fuck everyone who takes more than the allocated number of items through the express checkout. It’s not as if I’m going to say or do anything about it.

        But they know what they’ve done.

  9. Greg Olear says:

    The dashing hit man in my book makes a better case for the moral ambiguity — and, he says, irrelevance — of Thou Shalt Not Kill better than I can in this space.

    I will say that there are certain inalienable truths, certain moral absolutes, and one of them irrefutably is, if a guy narcs you out for boosting a few extra sugar packets in a corporate coffee shop, that person is a fucking asshole.

    • Lenore Zion says:

      i’m not sure he really believed in his argument. i think he was just trying to sound smart. of course, he failed. however, you’re correct about your dashing hit man. i wanted to make out with that character. i’m sure that was your intention.

  10. Reno j. Romero says:


    1. you’re right. there are grey areas.
    2. take as much sugar as you want. starbucks makes big cash deliverying a so-so product. next time hit up the dope man for a real jolt.
    3. don’t talk to strangers. especially ones that want to bone you.
    4. you could have ended this quasi-philosophical conversation by telling those poor saps to mind their own fucking business and if they want attention from some chicks (s) pay for a hooker or go to a titty bar.
    5. bye. have a great day.

    • Lenore Zion says:

      i this was a group of guys trying to pick me up, they really didn’t make that clear. i would have been more open to the possibility of a date if they’d come across as more understanding of my sugar habit.

  11. rachel says:

    “thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, even if thy own wife is in the habit of throwing ashtrays made of thick glass at thy head when she is feeling ignored”

    you are great.

    • Lenore Zion says:

      that hypothetical wife is sorta bitchy. i would covet the hell out of my neighbor’s wife if i were married to her.

  12. If I ever do something moronic and end up in jail, I SO want you to be my lawyer, Lenore.

    The end.

  13. Sugar. Seriously, buddy? Starbucks has no moral ground to defend a five dollar cup of coffee, yet they sell it and people buy it. Assholes worrying about sugar packets. This is who is using up all the oxygen in the world thus creating a perfect society of morons. The law is all kinds of shades of gray… why else would there be attorneys?

    • Lenore Zion says:

      i buy the hell out of that five-dollar cup of coffee. i know people say it’s overpriced, but it is the most worth it thing ever to me. i think of it as paying for my routine, which grounds me and eases my anxiety about being in the world as the neurotic lunatic i am.

  14. Becky Palapala says:

    Every once in a while, when I’m in a hurry, I forget how many sugars I put in my coffee mix and grab one or two extra packets just in case my count was off. I can’t stand when my coffee’s wrong.

    I feel guilty every time, even though it’s for the coffee I just bought. I always think someone watching me might not understand that, so then I mentally prepare to explain myself in case someone confronts me about putting two sugar packets in my purse.

    Similar situation with using the plastic knives to stir my coffee. I always feel like I need to be prepared lest someone assail me for using a knife when there are much less expensive and more eco-friendly stir-sticks right there.

    “The stir sticks don’t reach to the bottom of a large coffee.” I will explain.

    If it is an employee, I will get sassy: “If you don’t want me to use the knives, buy stir sticks that are big enough to stir your large coffees.”

    I thought it was just a symptom of my incredible neuroticism and possibly an indication of mild paranoia. But this post seems to reveal that there ARE, in fact, people sitting in coffee shops, just waiting to pass moral judgment on others’ conduct and confront them about it, so it’s not paranoia if they’re actually after you, right?

    • zoe zolbrod says:

      I have that same concern about using plastic silverware for small tasks.

    • Lenore Zion says:

      i love that you have a prepared response for both other patrons and also the employees. you are at the ready, becky. very admirable. i usually just stutter and then curl up into a ball when challenged. i’d be like “i used the knife because i am inherently bad. i am so sorry.”

  15. Wait, wait. You *can’t* take the “free” stuff on the tabletops? Oh god. Looks like I have a purse-full of silverware to return to the Denny’s. Kidding! I don’t eat at Denny’s. They’re not from Denny’s.

    I love the spiraling turns this Starbucks discussion takes, from mercy killings to stealing sugar. Hilarious! My grandmother would strongly disagree, though, that taking the sugar packets is forbidden. If you go to her house, she will serve you with restaurant condiments, straws, napkins, and crackers. And she sings in the church choir, so clearly she knows her right from wrong.

    • Matt says:

      My mother, over the course of several visits, stole four complete table sets of silverware from Outback Steakhouse when I was a teenager.

      • I hope she remembered to snag a bread board as well. Those things are fantastic. Not that I have one. Or two.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          I’m telling the embassy!

        • Lenore Zion says:

          what’s a bread board?

        • I don’t know — that little cutting board what’s-it they put the bread on with the special hole for the butter. There’s probably a special Outbacky name for it. Let’s ask Simon.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Nope. Bread board.

        • Psi says:

          Do you love that they have kiwis (the actual bird, not people like me) in OUtback Steakhouse? Maybe it was just the one in Orange. i almost said something when i was there, but thought, “they don’t care. They think i’m Australian anyway, so i’ll just be some crazy separatist Australian guy talking about birds w/ no wings.”

          If i knew someone i thought that about, i wouldn’t be taking them seriously.

        • Zara Potts says:

          WHAT?? They have kiwi’s in a restaurant??? Real, actual, live kiwi’s? This cannot be!! They are an endangered species….

        • Lenore Zion says:

          i still don’t know what a bread board is.

        • Matt says:

          Zara, Outback is by far and away the unhealthiest place to eat in the U.S. Obviously they are evil. Why WOULDN’T they keep a live endagered bird? Especially since they cannot seem to tell the difference between OZ and NZ.

          Uh-oh. I smell a diplomatic incident waiting to happen.

        • Zara Potts says:

          They cannot have a real kiwi. It’s against the law.

          I will come and break that kiwi out if I have to.

          There’s no way a cute bird like that should have to live among ‘bloomin’ onions.’ I mean what the fuck is a ‘bloomin’ onion’ anyway? It’s not something from Down Under. It doesn’t exist!! I believe their ‘kiwi’ is probably just a possum that they have stuck a big long beak onto and called it a kiwi.

        • There isn’t a live kiwi at *my* Outback. Ours must not be lawless enough.

        • Zara Potts says:

          It probably died….

    • Lenore Zion says:

      that’s totally a grandma thing, from my understanding of grandmas, which is admittedly limited. but i think old people just love collecting shit. they like little figurines of animals and children, and doilies and plastic flowers and shit. and gardening spades. they fucking love gardening spades. if denny’s had gardening spades, grandmas everywhere would swarm all the denny’s locations in the country to pocket those things.

      • Yes, yes! And buying things in bulk! Although my grandfather told my grandmother recently that she is no longer allowed to buy toilet paper in bulk because that’s too much pressure for him to live past his life expectancy.

        • Lenore Zion says:

          old people need more toilet paper than real people. they pee all the time. especially old ladies. that’s all they do. they get up from the chair, shuffle to the bathroom, pee, and by the time they shuffle back they have to pee again.

  16. Judy Prince says:

    Love it, Lenore! You do so excellently well every kind of writing: brilliant, pathos-laden, Russian psychological, goofy, in-your-face, ardorous (made that word up just for you)—–and always vividly memorable.

    You are a woman to be reckoned with. A writer to be listened to. A judge, jury, plaintiff, codefendant and attorney for the dispossessed (see, you made my subconscious bring up a Russian lit reference!!).

    I love you. And I have lotsa love room because it’s a heart-place, a psychic space, boundless and limitless and gorgeous, and there you are in it!!

    • Lenore Zion says:

      damn, judy. you know how to butter a girl up. would you like my firstborn?

      • Judy Prince says:

        Pooky, I thought you’d already promised me your firstborn. I was working on the secondborn.

        Hey, but don’t try to deflect the truth: You’re an excellent writer!! I’m waiting for the Book by Lenore Zion. And other books to follow. You have writing gifts that are fantastic privileges and that are given to you, I believe, for others’ benefit. That’s the way it is, and thank God for it.

        • Lenore says:

          The book by Lenore Zion is with a bunch of editors right now. They all seem to have a problem with how “uncommercial” it is. Hopefully one of them will prove that the publishing world still has balls and publish it soon!

        • Judy Prince says:

          Pooky, not having balls is at times a disadvantage, but only if you notice that they’re missing. I, for example, don’t have balls, and never notice they’re missing.

          Publishing houses whose balls are missing—–and who *know* they’re missing—–may well be using an inordinate amount of energy either avoiding that fact or pretending as if they have balls. Either way, it’s not a pretty picture.

          I suggest that you point out to the ball-less publishing houses that they in fact have no balls. Let them decide what to do about it. At least you will have started the balls rolling.

          So what’s your “uncommercial” book about?

        • Lenore Zion says:

          a lady never tells! it’s a a really strange comedy. i’ll leave it at that.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Great that it’s a really strange comedy, Pooky! We’ll be applying our astonishing mind and psychic power to locate the appropriate publisher for you.

  17. Kimberly says:

    I would like to follow you around with a camera for a week. We’d win an Oscar for sure.

    It’d be so good in fact, they’re rename it L’Oscar.



    • Lenore Zion says:

      i become instantly self-conscious and unnatural when a camera is pointed at me, but if you’d like to give it a shot, i’d do it, if only to spend time with you. and also for the renaming of the Oscar. i wouldn’t mind being immortalized.

  18. Matt says:

    I’m so reassured to know that the condiment police are out there, waging their thankless war against those who would heedlessly pilfer packet after packet of complimentary flavor enhancers. Because when Starbucks loses sugar, the terrorists win.

  19. dwoz says:

    pour some sugar on me baby…pour some on me.

    I take sugar wherever it offers itself to me.

    yes, I’m a sugarSlut.

    • Lenore Zion says:

      i do as well. i really love sugar. when people tell me they’ve cut sugar out of their diets, i become anxious on their behalf. i just don’t understand why anyone would do that to himself. makes no sense.

  20. J.M. Blaine says:

    The Stranger
    was me.

    I was just
    My pockets

  21. Meghan says:

    Those boys are mostly wrong. If Starbucks decided they didn’t want you to take their sugar (which would be foolish – duh) they would stop putting it out there. Perhaps Starbucks has found that they established unrealistic expectations in you about how to use their complimentary sugar. But, either way, that’s on Starbucks, not you.

    • Lenore Zion says:

      still, though, the “personal responsibility” piece really gets to me. i don’t think it’s right to take advantage of generosity, and i feel like i should apply that on a macro-level.

      • dwoz says:

        On a macro level, I’ve bought a large mud-‘o-th-day about 17 times since June. I don’t use sugar in my coffee, so you can use MINE! I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with MY sugar for quite some time now. Thank you for solving this problem for me.

  22. I take little extra packers of Splenda where ever I can find it. At Starbucks, as well.
    I feel like I’m helping to market it, so really, I’m like an employee for Splenda – is the way I see it.
    See? Splenda. There. Marketing.

    • Lenore Zion says:

      splenda is yuck. i need the real deal. i’d probably buy splenda from you, though. cause i like you.

      • Yeah, I can’t help but put it in my coffee – habit.
        I wish I could drink it black, like cool people.

        And for the record, I would never take money from you. Even for my stolen Splenda.

        And I’m sitting next to Prue who still wants to throw your head in the poison ivy – but, in a good way.

        • Lenore Zion says:

          does she take splenda on her grapefruit? she can throw my head in poison ivy any day. i’d buy splenda from her, too.

  23. Prue eats her grapefruit straight up. And I’m sure when she starts drinking coffee, it will be black.

    And I don’t give our kids any Splenda – just fyi, if anyone was about to judge me (not you, because you’re not like that).

  24. Yeah, Splenda is bad. I only do my Splenda-ing in private.
    You’re gonna be a great mom – you were so good with Prue!
    She only said she wanted to throw your head because she could sense you’d think that was funny.
    Not because, she’d like really want to do it or anything. At least, that’s my hope.

  25. Richard Cox says:

    I’m in a coffee shop right now. There are branded bags of coffee on a shelf near the condiments. I’m going to grab some sugar packets and one of those vacuum sealed bags, walk out the door, and see what happens.

  26. Joe Daly says:

    I think taking the extra sugar is actually a form of embezzlement. You have the right to handle, manage, and control the sugar, providing you do so within certain boundaries- the preparation of coffee. The grey area is that maybe you take some sugar now for the next coffee. Maybe leave a packet or two in your car, and the next time you get a coffee, you use the coffee in your car from the previous visit?

    So yeah, there’s a grey area, but you’re probably out of line, so you’re a sugar embezzler. You’re like a white collar criminal in the sugar and spice wing.

    Also, you don’t need to know right and wrong. You can always ask someone when the situation arises. It’s like how Einstein never bothered to learn his phone number- he knew it was in the book if he or anyone else needed it. Likewise, why fill up your head with theory when you can just ask a passerby or consult a spiritual text as situations arise?

    Jah man.

    • Lenore Zion says:

      when i try to start conversations with strangers, they usually assume i’m a crazy homeless person and ignore me. so i can’t just ask a passerby. i have to rely on the information i get from people who start conversations with me.

      anyway, this really isn’t about the sugar. it’s not really about anything.

  27. Stefan Kiesbye says:

    “I can’t help but think these men, in refusing to take the sugar on moral grounds, are living very limited lives.

    The end.”

    Ah, Lenore, where were you all this time?

  28. Erika Rae says:

    I am so over the moral high ground.

    Case in point. Adultery. Biblical definition: Sex with another man’s wife. In other words, a married man having sex with an unmarried woman was NOT adultery. Why was having sex with another man’s wife a problem? Because she was another man’s PROPERTY.

    Excellent post as always. You’ve been missed in these here parts. I feel like I should send you some sugar for Christmas.

  29. Andrew Nonadetti says:

    Oh, I love moral stuff! Too bad I don’t have the time to expound at length right now. Personally, I think you should’ve simply rejoined, “Rules without force to back them up are opinions. I’m taking the sugar. In fact, I’m going to empty the basket into my bag. In further fact, I’m taking yours, too. You gonna stop me, fuckstick?” Then you could’ve punctuated it by reaching across the table and taking a bite out of the unslobbery side of whatever pastry the Morality Nazi was eating.

    • Lenore Zion says:

      i totally should have taken his sugar, you’re right. or his money. i think i’d prefer his money. if i see him again, i’ll rob him.

  30. Lorna says:

    What about the people who don’t use any sugar at all? They’ve already paid for the sugar. I say we take their share.

  31. I love the way this story went. I was already thinking about my reply after the first paragraph, just thinking about the ins and outs of morality… and then you come back to Starbucks and the sugar packets. Suddenly I’m thinking less about killing and more about sugar packets and coffee-swilling douchebags. Of course it’s okay to take the sugar! In this awful modern society of ours we have come to accept that we have to partially take responsibility for the actions of others. That means that when we leave our wallet in the street and someone takes it, they have not stolen thy wallet. You gave it to them. Likewise, when Starbucks leaves the sugar out, it’s giving you it as a gift. That’s why the keep the coffee on one side of the divide and the sugar on t’other.

  32. Lenore Zion says:

    but can we kill people? i still can’t tell if that’s okay.

  33. Gloria says:

    I, of course, agree 100% with you, but also feel simultaneously irritated by this piece because 1) I was just about to post a wonderful meditation on whether or not the idea of “evil” is even relevant when describing human beings and B) because you’re so much more clever than I. Nonetheless, I shall forge forward.

    • Lenore says:

      i’m glad you think i’m clever. i still think you should write your piece though. this one was mostly about sugar, anyway.

  34. Tom Hansen says:

    Ex heroin addicts need all that sugar. If they started putting restrictions on it you’d have a bazillion relapses going on all over the place. I suppose it’s not really ok to kill people. However some people really need to be killed, and might even be asking for it. So you’re doing something wrong, but it’s actually a public service

  35. I haven’t read all the comments here, so maybe this question was answered, but what were you planning on doing with the sugar? Just curious. Send me your address, and I will send you a giant bag of sugar. This way you don’t have to sit around and talk to cranky men who think they know better than you.

  36. Aaron Dietz says:

    Hey, it’s not like the sugar is tied down. It WANTS to go with you.

  37. pixy says:

    i’m using this slow week to catch up on my TNB reading and i read this and it made me think of MLK’s “letter from birmingham jail”. for serious.
    these people who shunt you due to your sugar keeping ways, those are the white moderate who kept telling the black folks to “wait! time will bring your rights…” “wait lenore! time will bring your sugar!” time will not bring your sugar lenore – so take it now!

    it’s also a pretty good detailing of moral vs. legal gray area. i’m not saying, i’m just saying. 🙂

    all of that above sounds a little crazy. i think it means that killing is cool, yo.

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