You Can’t Play Someone by Doing What They Want (a Story)

Once upon a time, a woman went to a park with coolers full of 100 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

She gave the sandwiches out to anyone who came to her. Some people took a sandwich and left. Some people took a sandwich and, a little while later, came back for a second one… or a third… or even a fourth. Some were children and some were adults. Some were dressed in rags and some were dressed in business suits. Some said ‘thank you’ and some did not.

After a while, she had given out all of her sandwiches and she left.

The next day, she came back with 100 more sandwiches and the same thing happened. Some people took a sandwich and left. Some people took a sandwich and, a little while later, came back for a another. Some were children and some were adults. Some were dressed in rags and some were dressed in business suits. Some said ‘thank you’ and some did not.

And again, after a while, she had given out all of her sandwiches and she left.

On the third day, as she was setting up her table and laying out her sandwiches, some other women who usually sat nearby came up to her.

They said, “We think you’re doing such a great think, giving out sandwiches to people who are hungry. But we’re worried that you’re getting played. Some people are taking a sandwich and, a little while later, coming back for another. Some people are adults who should be working for their food. Some people are dressed in business suits and could clearly afford to buy a sandwich. You really should be more careful.”

And the woman said, “No, no. You don’t understand. I’m here to give out sandwiches. Anyone who takes one is helping me do that.

“They’re helping me if they take a sandwich and leave. They’re helping me if they take a sandwich and, a little while later, come back for another.

“They’re helping me if they’re children. They’re helping me if they’re adults.

“They’re helping be if they’re dressed in rags or if they’re dressed in business suits.

“I cannot be played when people are doing what I want.”

And the other women left her, bewildered.