On Thursday morning, a swollen inter-department mailer sat in my mailbox at work. Are you familiar with these? It’s an envelope, ten by thirteen inches, brownish-gold, the color of dehydrated urine. You seal it by twisting a string around a fastener. It’s not for stamped postal mail, my name is simply scrawled on the envelope at the bottom of a long list of crossed-out names.  Our delivery driver brought it. That’s how we move stuff between branches and departments at the library where I work. I thought it was full of money.

Because I’m the finance director, people send me money all the time. The fines and copy fees we collect at each branch come to me weekly for accounting. It’s the only money we earn. The rest comes from grants and donations. I spend a lot of time tallying up small amounts of money—sixty-cent fines and forty-cent copy jobs. As a tiny part of a three-million-dollar budget, someone might argue that this isn’t a good use of my time, but responsible accounting practices means someone needs to do it, and I’m the only one. As it turns out, this envelope was full of jellybeans. Black ones.

I could write a self-serving story about why Vicki, my old assistant who retired nine months ago, sends me candy via her sister who still volunteers for the library, but really, I want to write about jellybeans.

I’m obsessive about the food I take to work. I pack the same bag every day. A handful of almonds, a handful of carrots, a handful of pretzels, a hummus sandwich and a couple of squares of dark chocolate. I top it off with a reddish apple, gala or honeycrisp, and thirty ounces of lightly spritzed water from my Soda Stream seltzer machine. On the days I walk to work, I throw in a banana to offset the extra calorie expenditure. I created this meal in 2018 when I first accepted my job, and I rarely deviate. This is exactly the number of calories I need to get through the day, so if I start the day a little hungry, I feel hungry all day long.

A few weeks ago, Rose, who replaced Rachel, the teenager who replaced Vicki (it’s a hard job, Rachel lasted a week), said “No wonder you’re always hungry. I hear you in here crunching on carrots all day. You need to bring in something with substance. Bring in a plate of rice and beans.”

I started Thursday morning famished. Even after my Wednesday night spin class, I limit myself to two small bowls of Special K each morning—a radical departure from the days when I ate a half a box of Golden Grahams every day. I’m still trying to lose some pounds. I’m trying to return to my marathoning weight, my waif-like stature when I ran twelve to eighteen miles every Saturday morning. I’ve lost a pound in the past two months. I’m starting to believe the only way to reach my marathoning weight is to start marathoning again.

I texted Susan, Sophie and Eli: Yay! Vicki sent me a bag of black jellybeans! I included a photo. When I was in college, I only talked with my parents for fifteen minutes every Sunday afternoon. I sat on the windowsill at the end of the hall, my head and neck strained forward so I could reach the handset on the pay telephone mounted to the wall. I quickly recounted my week, my academic successes and failures, grief about bouncing yet another two-dollar check on a pitcher of Schaefer beer, and maybe a snippet of campus life—yuck, corn dogs for lunch again. I spent the whole phone call praying that no one on my dorm floor shouted “Man, I gotta take a sh*t!

Now, as a college student, Sophie is just part of our daily conversation. We loop her in on the mundane minutia of family life: e.g. my bag of jellybeans. I once asked her how she felt about being included in the done running text I always send when I get back to my car so no one worries that I had a heart attack on the trail. She said “I like knowing you went running.”

Ninety minutes later, just below my jellybean text, unanswered save Susan’s obligatory thumbs-up, I wrote. Ugh. Too many jellybeans. I stapled the bag shut!

My inability to moderate my candy intake is well documented here on my blog and within my family. Over the years, countless late night road trips ended with me so wired on gummy bears that I needed two or three beers to get to sleep. Now that I no longer drink, I make sure my driving ends well before bed time lest I lay in bed, sleepless, with my synapses short circuiting.  

At Eli’s request, I brought my jellybeans home from work. I’m less likely to eat them when I’m not sitting at my desk slowly starving to death. Or at least I’m less likely to overdose on them. In a couple of months, Vicki will send in a bag of Payday bars or a huge box of Good & Plenty or a tin of fudge, some of my favorites. I’ll repeat the process of overeating for an entire day before bringing my windfall home to share. One day, maybe, I’ll learn to control myself when faced with unlimited candy. In the meantime, I’ll just continue to make myself sick.

Image by juliox from Pixabay

24 thoughts on “Jellybeans

  1. You only live once, Jeff. Chocolate is my nemesis. I’ve given in to the fact that at 60, and years of sport and exercise, the occasional binge has been worked for. If the collection of unlimited candy gets too much you can always mail them over to the UK 😂.

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  2. Nicely written, thanks Jeff. Possibly I say this because I feel a bit seedy today – due to overindulgence yesterday.
    After yet another cup of tea that tasted of chlorine (Adelaide water has improved over the years, but not enough to fool Melbourne bred taste buds) I went to buy a cask of pure water. But seeing a half price special on dark choc apricot balls at the supermarket …


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  3. Funny to imagine those I inter-department envelopes are still in use. I can see why, in your case. Nailed it with the color description. And I like your recurring daily diet, probably good on your system for predictability if nothing else. Maybe try that diet where you go like 16 hours without eating? Only eat between 8-4 pm and nothing outside of that? Or you’re right, probably better to just run.

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    • I was hoping a ‘corporate type’ would read this and get a kick out of those envelopes. My first job was at a huge government contractor and those envelopes were everywhere. I think I laughed out loud when I saw them in use at the library. If I go too long without food, I lose it. I start sweating and get really weak. With the food I take to work, I pretty much snack all day. Running is definitely the way. Now that it’s getting nice out and the sun is up after work…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh candy my downfall, so much empathy. We have five sites, five programs, throughout the week I carry those envelopes from one site to the next in my backpack, filled with receipts time sheets, mileage claims and occasionally a birthday card or check. You nailed the color.

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  5. Urk i
    Love jelly beans but black ones are the worst – which means they would be safe with me – I sometimes buy them at the chemist – I rat the whole bag (even the black ones) if I open them. Impossible to resist but then that awful squeamish feeling.

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  6. Jeff, I’m very impressed by the food you take to work every day. It’s so healthy. I must admit it’s very similar to the lunches and snacks throughout the day. I love hummus but have never thought of putting it in a sandwich – great idea, and I will give that a go. I know as we get older (and you’re younger than me), losing weight becomes more difficult. I can’t exercise, so I am generally careful, although not obsessive, about my food. I tend to have a savoury tooth, so I probably wouldn’t go for jellybeans of any colour. I love crisps and Ritz biscuits (I wonder if you have those). I try not to buy more than one or two bags of crisps at a time as I know exactly where they’d end up in about five minutes flat!

    I love the description of the envelope colour, too. On the topic of jellybeans, my very first Twitter account was, for some unknown and unfathomable reason, in the name of Jellybean, accompanied by a jar of them as my profile picture. I don’t know what possessed me to do that. I’ve now got a Twitter account in my own name, but I hardly ever go on there.

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    • Well I’m happy to say my exercise is increasing with the weather and additional daylight. I generally have a good diet although I’ve got a soft spot for pizza – especially sausage and pepperoni. Re: the color, I stared at that envelope for five minutes trying to figure out the color. Then I thought it would disgust everyone. Funny about your twitter name. I got off twitter a few years ago. I really didn’t like it. I felt like I was shouting into the wind.

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      • Yep, that’s how I feel about Twitter these days, too. I only really used it for sharing my blog posts on, but haven’t even done that for several months, if not longer.

        Glad your exercise regime is improving. The warmer weather and longer daylight hours do help, I know; not that I can exercise much anyway.

        I’ll give the sausage and pepperoni pizza a miss; thanks all the same 😉 – give me a vegan roasted veggie and vegan cheese one any day. I’ve got both of my grandchildren coming over later this week. They both love pizza, so it’ll be a good excuse for me to have one, too. My granddaughter (10) is coming from Thursday to Friday, and my grandson (8) is here from Friday to Saturday. I can see I’m going to have to put blog reading on the back burner for those couple of days.


  7. I bet an inter-office delivery of candy in the mail slot is about the best use of the system ever. I can’t control my intake of candy when presented with the open bag either, Jeff, so I’m diving in there with you. Glad you enjoyed some before hitting the tipping point!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I laughed when I read about the inter-department envelopes. If they are like the ones I have used, you line-out the previous name, fill in the next line with the new “addressee” and send it on its way. I was always a little amazed at how many desks the old and tattered envelopes would land on before someone eventually tossed them.


  9. I’m intrigued by the same lunch concept. I’m going to try it out. I love jelly beans, I like the fat ones not the slimmer fancy kind. I hardly ever talked to my parents when I was away at college. They probably figured I’d call if there was a problem. Funny how nowadays we want to be in regular touch with out kids problem or not. I’m glad the folders with the string are still being used, little surprised since they seem like a dry Petri dish.

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    • Even though the menu changes up from time to time, I always eat the same thing as the day before. Takes less thought. Today was one of those days I started hungry and ate everything I brought by noon. I cheated and got M&Ms.


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