So I have to go to the dentist, and I’m dreading it. Not because I’m scared of pain. It’s just that the last time I went to see him, he handed me a jar of fancy nuts.
Let me explain.
You see, his wife has a start-up nonprofit business, producing flavored nuts — spicy, sweet, tangy, etc. — and she donates all profit to animal welfare. And like the good husband he is, he saw an opportunity to get her some media coverage, knowing that I’m a freelance writer who frequently reviews new products.
“Enjoy them,” he said cheerily. “And don’t forget to tell me how you like them.”
Which, to my ears, meant, “Don’t forget to tell me when your article about them is published.”
Look, I know that free stuff is just about the only perk that writers get. And why should I feel indebted to this guy for one little jar of nuts? I’m sure he didn’t think he was tying a noose around my neck. I mean, come on — we all know that major beauty editors routinely bring home hundreds of dollars worth of free cosmetics each month without blinking a perfectly made-up eye. We all know that online experts get tons of free stuff from manufacturers hoping for high praise in a blog. And truth be told, I’ve gotten some free stuff in my time — some not so great (a cleaning liquid that claimed to remove red wine, but let’s just say I’m glad I tested it on a white rag and not a white blouse) and some pretty wonderful (a queen-size luscious down comforter–‘nuf said).
But no matter if I end up writing positively about the product (the comforter), negatively about the product (actually, I don’t think I’ve ever done this), or not at all about the product (the stain remover and the nuts), I feel guilty, as though I’m getting away with something.
Which is why I felt bad about seeing my dentist.
Although when I finally went back and he charged me more than $400 for a filling, I stopped feeling that way…
Writers — how do you feel when you get free stuff?
Just another guilt-soaked day in the life of a working writer.