Self-Serve Candy on Halloween and the Children of Rockville

So this is year five of my prolonged experiment with the self-serve candy distribution on Halloween.

I started doing this in Phoenix in 2008 because my wife wasn’t going to be home to hand out the candy, leaving me alone with my crazy dog who loved to attack anyone who came to the door. Also because I don’t like people coming to my door and asking for free shit, no matter how old they are. And I was watching a movie and didn’t feel like stopping it a couple of dozen times (our neighborhood had a lot of kids). And I was in a particularly crappy mood that day. And I’m lazy. Okay, mostly because I’m lazy. Don’t judge me.

So the first attempt was an utter failure. During various pauses in my movie (or sometimes even hearing kids over it), I did hear a fair number of visitors to my front porch. I must have missed the inevitable but predictable moment when someone some kid dumped my $40 or so worth of candy into their bag, but I did hear this kid to kid exchange, loud and clear from the middle of the living room, during a particularly quiet scene (and, let me be honest, I did pause the movie to listen at this point):

Kid 1: “Hey, there’s a note on the door. It says we should take a couple pieces of candy and leave some for the next person.”
Kid 2: “Screw that! I’m gonna take it all!”
Kid 1: “Hell yeah!” (Very funny coming from this kid)
Kid 2: “Wait…it’s all gone!”
Kid 1: “Someone took it all!”
Kid 2: “That’s NOT FAIR!”
Kid 1: “What a bunch of assholes!” (Again, seriously funny – they might have heard my laughter)

The irony was so thick you couldn’t mangle it with my serrated bread knife (inside joke there, Facebook peeps). I hope those kids remembered that the next time they came across a self-serve box.

The second year Halloween was on a Saturday night and we went to the movies, so we went with self-serve. But we were living with my mom at the time and knew every kid in the neighborhood since she had lived there for a couple of decades, so no one was surprised when half the candy was left over.

But the last three years, our Rockville neighborhood has seriously impressed me. Randomly, we’ve had conflicts each of the last three years, or gotten home 3/4 of the way through the trick or treating window, which I generally consider to be between 6:30 and 8 (though the older kids come later, and I just find them annoying. I feel like the cutoff should be 12 years of age, and even that’s pushing it. After that, your ass can hand out the candy), so we reverted to the self-serve method.

(The crazy dog continues to be a factor – she’s less crazy, but not when it comes to those on the porch. Either they must be attacked or they must play with her, we’re not sure which, but it involves a lot of barking, jumping and tail wagging from the 90 pound beast. Not the best image for a kid a third of her size. We could lock her up all night, but I don’t want to do that…this way, the dog stays out and the kids get their candy. Win-win).

The neighborhood was packed with kids on my way home tonight from the Metro; I didn’t crack double-digits on the old speedometer. There are a LOT of morons out on Halloween; something about the holiday seems to bring them out of the woodwork. Tonight’s installment of Moronity (that’s a word, I just made it up and will add it to the Urban Dictionary later) involved parents, dressed in black, watching their kids, also dressed in black, skateboard into on-coming traffic (namely, me) with total disregard for, well, anything.

There’s also the roving packs of children of all ages darting out into the street like deer, parents standing in the middle of the street with baby strollers talking to other parents (while rocking said stroller in the general direction of my left fender as I eased past, just below the speed of snail). Oh, and my drive from the Metro is just over 1/2 a mile, so imagine if I had done any serious distance.

My self-serve box has a note that always says something to the effect of “Take a few, please leave some for the next person!” with some sort of magic marker emoticon next to it, and this year’s was no exception. When I brought the box in just after 9:30, I was pleasantly surprised to find that 3/4 of the candy was gone (good, because I sure don’t want it around), but (and this is difficult math here), 1/4 was left (also good, because no one snagged it all for themselves). This is the third straight year that at least some candy was left over.

So well done, parents of Rockville, you’re raising some up-right citizens. But teach them to stay on the sidewalks.