As far as I know I’m the only person on the planet to ever be banned from a 7-Eleven. Granted, it was only from one location and not the entire chain, but still, I was genuinely asked by a 7-Eleven franchisee to never return to their establishment again.
To this day I don’t believe I did anything wrong. I may have found a loophole in the system, sure, but it’s not like I committed any convenience store food crimes.
How is it my fault if they post a sign that says “Free Chili & Cheese” without any additional clarifying language?
The sign didn’t read “Free Chili & Cheese when you buy chips or hot dogs from this store.”
And it didn’t say “Free Chili & Cheese for paying customers only.”
In fact, to this day, the sign still states “Free Chili & Cheese” with no disclaimers of any kind (photographic evidence below). Nearly twenty years later the loophole still exists! I’ve searched high and low for fine print and it just isn’t there.
So as a twenty-one year old college student with a giant bag of Tostitos and no money for additional dips and/or condiments, what was I supposed to do? Eat a plain dry tortilla chip? When two key components of actual nachos were readily available FOR FREE?!
No no no.
Just because I didn’t have any money didn’t mean I deserved to eat like I was broke.
I was every bit as entitled to that gas station smorgasbord of slop as anyone else.
And the story goes that on more than one occasion I would take an entire bag of tortilla chips into the store, carefully open the bag, and pour the chili and cheese substitutes directly from the machine into the plastic bag.
The most important step came shortly after getting the newly-dressed bag of chips home. I would lay the bag on its side and make a very careful incision from the top opening of the bag to the bottom seam. When done correctly, the bag could be used as a makeshift plate too.
I won’t get into what happened when it wasn’t done correctly.
This ritual occurred several times until that fateful night when I got caught.
Truthfully, I never tried to hide my actions so “getting caught” isn’t even a good description of the events that took place.
The sign was explicit.
There’s no open interpretation for “Free Chili & Cheese.” If you assume “free chili & cheese” applies to paying customers only, well, you know what assuming does.
I took the sign at face value and applauded that fine establishment for their generosity. I wanted to celebrate the philanthropic food distribution toward struggling college students like myself. I would strut confidently into the store to partake of these emblems of charity and then I would be on my way.
That was the routine until that nigh when — at the moment I placed the bag under the faux cheese spout — the store manager shouted “HEY, YOU CAN’T USE THAT!! I SAW YOU BRING THOSE CHIPS FROM OUTSIDE! NO WONDER WE’VE BEEN RUNNING OUT SO FAST!”
And I looked at the man confused. And just as I started to voice my confusion he pointed at the door and told me to never come back again.
I found myself banned from the trash condiment Shangri-La forever.
And the thing I’m most upset about nearly twenty years later is that I couldn’t even have the clever conversation about their misleading sign. I had a whole series of quips ready to use and I had the opportunity taken from me. The judge had ruled with his mighty gavel and I was immediately banned from 7-Eleven for life. Rather, that 7-Eleven.
And who knows? Maybe some day I’ll be the guy who has been banned from all 8500 domestic 7-Eleven locations. Maybe even a couple of international locations! One can dream.