Thursday, March 19, 2020

The Baked Beans

Well, we got through our final day of school shutdown preparations yesterday, and as of now we are officially closed. The British public schools are also closing (finally!) on Friday. As I walked Olga yesterday morning I watched streams of kids marching off to school in their uniforms, and thought, "This is INSANE. These kids should be staying home." I'm glad someone in power came to the same conclusion.

Yesterday was busy in the library but it was only a half-day of work for me, so not too terrible. I didn't work the desk -- I spent the day mostly re-shelving books and straightening things up. The place was a mess. It was like a swarm of locusts had come through.

I joked to my boss that we should just throw away whatever's still on the shelves, because clearly no one wants it. The fastest shelf-weeding in the world!

I had to bring home a trumpet, a drum pad and a French horn for Dave -- along with a big bag of books and some odds and ends. That was an ordeal! I had to take the tube just to be able to get it all back here -- but I did my best not to touch any surfaces with my hands. (The tube carriage was virtually empty.) I told Dave when I walked in the door he owed me a million dollars for hauling all that stuff. It's going to be interesting to see how well this works, teaching music over the Internet. (I bet our neighbors will love it.)

Here's a moral question for you.

Weeks ago, some students set up a box outside the library door for donations of non-perishable food to a homeless shelter. The box was still sitting there as school closed. I assume it's going to continue to sit there for the duration of the closure, as no one is around to transport the food. The box contained six cans of baked beans, which we are currently unable to buy in stores because of the all the hoarding going on.

(You can see where this is going.)

Yes, I did. I took the beans for me and Dave. But I "borrowed" them -- meaning, I will either return them if we wind up not needing them ourselves, or replace them if we do need them. I've been a little uncomfortable about the fact that we don't have much food laid in here at home if we have to self-quarantine. Surely whoever donated those beans wouldn't mind me making use of them, as long as I replace them in the end? Why should they just sit in a box in a dark school building?

I wish there was some toilet paper in that box, but no dice. The unavailability of toilet paper is the craziest side-effect of this whole coronavirus situation. The stores are even rationing it!

(Photos: Graffiti seen on my walk to school.)



    School Librarian, Steven G. Reed of West Hampstead was berated by magistrates yesterday when he was found guilty of purloining foodstuffs intended for the homeless. Sentencing Reed to 120 hours of community service, Chief Magistrate Colonel Godfrey Whackem-Hard said, "This is one of the most despicable crimes ever to have been put before me. You sir are the lowest of the low!"

    In his defence Reed, dressed in an expensive ERA T-shirt, sobbed uncontrollably, whimpering, "I'm sorry, right? I was going to put the beans back! I swear!"

  2. I suggest that you enjoy the beans ! I will visit you in prison when I am allowed to travel!!

    ps. FYI...... In UK a " public school" is actually a private school. ie. Eton or Harrow etc.

    Stay well. X

  3. I see you have been spammed. Toilet paper, paper towels, wipes, bleach, food items all limited here. Get food while you can.

  4. We are all learning, aren't we? We are all coming to grips with different ways of thinking and of being. A year ago, would you ever have imagined having a moral dilemma about beans in a donation box?
    They weren't helping anyone there. It's okay to have them in your cupboard.

  5. At least if you go to prison, they'll have to feed you in there. Always look on the bright side, eh?!

    Seriously, though, the beans were intended for anyone who needed them, and you did. What good were they doing sitting there going to waste? Enjoy them with a free conscience. These are no ordinary times.

  6. OK, we'll just keep the baked beans heist between us. No one will ever know. Once our lockdown got fully underway, things like toilet paper became readily available. Still no hand sanitizer. I didn't look for baked beans, which is a food I hate more than any other. If the tiniest bit touches my plate or anything on my plate, it has to be cleaned. Ugh. SO... I have no idea if the baked beans were restocked. But I have a feeling the British here are buying them as fast as they can come in.

  7. I Agree With David , Yorkshire Takes The Cake - More Humor, Less Television


  8. It was fine to take the beans instead of letting them sit there while the school is closed. You know you will replace them. Yorkshire's comment is truly the best though.

  9. Can you maybe do some food shopping online for delivery? Plus, if you don't have a mask, make one to wear for when you have to go out. You can't be too careful. As for the beans, it would have been a shame to leave them behind to waste away. Enjoy them. You be safe and have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  10. I would feel guilty too but I would have done the same thing. As long as you donate an equal amount of beans to the foodbank when they is over I think it's fine.

    Needs must.

  11. I had never thought of teaching music on the internet but ten I've been retired for 22 years so what do I know??? Keep safe and healthy.

  12. They were donated for those in need. you are in need and as you say, no one thought to take the box of food to the food bank. I think morally you are fine. you aren't depriving anyone more needy of 6 cans of baked beans, at least not at present. return or replace as you are able. life goes on here pretty much as usual. everything is shutting down. got a call from my dentist office that they are closing til April. there is one restaurant owner in this town, a tea partier who thinks it's criminal that property owners have to pay property taxes (gasp! we don't really own the property we own!) has posted several things on FB that 1. these orders to shut everything down just proves that we have no freedom and government overreach and 2. it's its media blowing things all out of proportion.

  13. Oh that YP - it was hilarious & then he mentioned the expensive t-shirt & I would have howled if I hadn't been (secretly) reading this at work. Ha! But I think it was fine to take the beans.

    It feels really weird to continue to go to work as usual when so many people are staying home. I don't know how long we'll continue to do that. I can probably work in a limited way from home, but if not then I guess I'll be using my sick & vacation time. I have enough for three weeks.

  14. I don't think there is any problem with the beans. I agree, why let them just sit there in the dark. I'm surprised that the public schools hadn't closed yet. Ours all closed last Friday. I only left the house once yesterday to go to the store early in the morning. I was happy to see plenty of meat and cheese but, the canned goods were bleak and there was no pasta at all. I have some already so it's not a problem. You will have to let us know how the music lessons from home go.

  15. Let your heart not be burdened. You will replace the beans. But what Ms. Moon says is very interesting. How quickly our concerns have shifted.

  16. It's a new and different and apocalyptic world we live in.

  17. Well, the great baked bean caper made me laugh. What a dilemma.

  18. I live in Eastern Oregon. I stood in line, at 7am this morning, at a Safeway store to receive a ration of 6 rolls of toilet paper, which I paid $9 for. To be fair, they were the big, double rolls...
    I am happy to have them and will share if asked.

  19. Kudos to Yorkshire Pudding for including the T-shirt. Brilliant.

    I guess I’ll take a different angle on the Bean Question--play devil's advocate (or angel's?):
    Since you are not lacking for resources, perhaps you might consider delivering the beans to a homeless shelter yourself? And throw in a few other nice things to eat too?

    I suggest that not because it's morally wrong to borrow the beans, but just that it’s extra hard to be living rough right now, with many public services closed--here in Minneapolis, anyway--and some free-food places have already had problems with distribution.

    (No judgment either way!)

  20. Never look a gift from the Gods in the mouth. You will find a way to repay the universe because now you know what it feels like to really need food and then getting some. Check out Jack Monroe's Cookingonabootstrap to learn how to turn a lowly can of baked beans into a culinary masterpiece. I have tried many of her recipes and I have yet to be disappointed. She has several books out but also has put a ton of recipes on her site for free. You may already know all about her struggle with poverty and how she turned that experience into her present occupation. Tin can cooking at its finest.
    I know how difficult it has been to acquire food where you are and wish you the best. This is only the beginning of a long slog.

  21. That's good advice from Penelope about Jack Monroe. She's a marvel and has saved my limited cooking skills and" too much of one thing I don't want to keep eating," habit more than once!

  22. Just saw there is a gofundme on Jack's site. Maybe a great way to assuage any guilt. Maybe a great place for your readers to help a legit and worthy cause.

  23. Another fan! My first recipe to try was the carrot and kidney bean burgers. So yummy! Just reading how to make the recipe is fun and soothing. I check her out on Twitter first thing every day.

  24. A moral question huh?
    It was a lay down misere you'd take those beans home...
    I have to say the justifications put forward in some of the comments made me laugh.
    Poor, old, needy Steve!
    You see I'm with Fresca here and I have in mind a community service order in which YOU provide the homeless not only with baked beans but other food and kind words and not just on a one-off.
    Lucky for you I let my response settle overnight, other wise all your faithful followers would have been well and truly up in arms and rushing to your defence.


  25. YP: It's Stephen, actually, for what it's worth. Get my court papers right! I would argue that the foodstuffs weren't intended for the homeless at that point. They were just going to sit on the floor and not be used by anyone. I may not use them myself, in which case I am merely STORING them for the homeless.

    David: He has his moments.

    Frances: Yeah, I'm using public here in the American sense, so my American readers know what I'm talking about. It's always a balancing act which terminology to use, having readers on both sides of the Atlantic. (And Australia!)

    E: That's what I thought. Better to have it than not.

    Ms Moon: I'm glad you agree!

    Jennifer: They really aren't, are they? Again, it's all so surreal.

    Mitchell: How funny that you feel so strongly about baked beans! Where does this antipathy come from?

    Padre: More humor is always a good thing.

    Robin: That's what I think, too.

    Edna: I keep hearing that wearing masks really doesn't do any good. Apparently the virus is on surfaces, not floating around in the air -- unless you're very near someone who's sneezing or coughing.

    Lilycedar: Needs must, indeed.

    Red: It's amazing what we can do now with technology! Dave is going to have classes with students all tuned in at once. I wonder if our Internet can handle it?!

    Ellen: Well, to say I am in need may be stretching it, but I could potentially be in need at some point in the future! In any case, that's how I felt -- they weren't doing anyone any good sitting there on the floor.

    Bug: It seems like your employer ought to let you off, to work from home and continue to draw your pay. Or is that not possible? You shouldn't have to burn up vacation time for this.

    Sharon: There's been quite a bit of criticism that the government was slow to close the schools here.

    37P: It's true. I know I keep saying it, but this is such a weird time.

    Catalyst: It's true!

    Colette: I'm glad you found some humor in it. :)

    Dee: It's madness, isn't it? Hopefully your neighbors have been equally resourceful in sourcing their own TP. :)

    Fresca: Well, I considered that too. Given that we're being told not to travel within the city, and given that I have no idea where the shelter is or what the school had planned for that food, I think it's best if I let them handle it when the time comes. (There wasn't much else in the box anyway.) I could make a remote monetary donation to a food bank, though. That's a good thought.

    Penelope: Thanks for the hint about Jack Monroe. I've read about her but I haven't used any of her recipes. I'll check it out!

    Alphie: You may say whatever you want to say -- no settling needed. I would be unable to comply with that community service order at the moment, being unable to buy beans on my own. Which is the whole point. As is the fact that the beans were not being used. They were sitting in a dark bin in a closed school.

  26. Steve: I have the same aversion to beets. Don't know why exactly. The first time I remember having beans is when my brother was born. I was not yet 6. My mother's friend took my sister and me to a diner across the street from the hospital. It was also my first time in a diner and it was the real thing, narrow, silver, round edges, sitting along the roadway. We sat at the counter and she ordered us both franks and beans... without even asking. I had never tasted anything so disgusting in my entire (short) life. After that, it took me years to even feel comfortable in a diner. All I could think of were baked beans... and really crappy franks!