birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Happy Birthday to Me

This may be my shortest piece yet. I never realized what an honest person I am. If the prompt had asked for a time in the past when I’d broken the rules I’d have several to choose from but it asks about a rule I break all the time. I’ve been sitting here for half an hour and coming up blank. I speed nearly every time I drive. Nothing too excessive, maybe five or ten miles over the limit. I used to smuggle my own snacks into the movies but I don’t go to the movies very much anymore, and ever since a juice pack sprung a leak in my pocket I’ve gone without snacks. I refuse to spend $20 for a soda and popcorn, but also don’t relish the thought of having small children accuse me of pissing myself. Once was enough for that.

I’ve parked in lots on campus I’m not entitled to park in, at least once a week. I’m too lazy to walk six blocks to get from the legal lot to my classroom. I used to use expired coupons at Bed Bath and Beyond on a regular basis until they changed the coupons from a flat 20% off to “20% through this date, then 5% off.” I guess I wasn’t the only one using them when they expired.

Oh, I’ve got one. This is pretty embarrassing. I join the loyalty club at different restaurants twelve different times, using twelve different email addresses, and giving twelve different birthdays. That way I get a free “birthday” dessert or entrée (sometimes a free meal!) every month. They never ask to see my driver’s license or other proof of date of birth; all they need is the coupon. It’s a sweet deal, and now that I’ve confessed my sin I feel pretty shabby. But not shabby enough to give it up. I’ve got a free blooming onion, a free dessert, a free order of Bang Bang Shrimp, a free “entrée of equal or lesser value” and a free appetizer to collect this month. Shabby or not, I’m not giving up that free grub.

The Commodity Form of Labor

Lesson Learned