Mr. Steward and I took Bean to the zoo. She had begged to go for a while, so when the weather turned strangely warm on Saturday, we whipped out our corporate discount on off-season tickets and made the trip. Being the frugal planner I am, I packed along a huge bag of snacks to keep us going.
When we arrived, there was a large sign outside of the entrance. It featured a list of many bullet points, the last of which said (of course), “No food and drinks inside the zoo.” Having anticipated this turn of events, I had Mr. Steward run the snacks back to the car.
Fast forward to three hours later, when both Bean and I become hungry. We go to the small zoo café and pay the egregiously high price of $15.49 for a decent basket of fries, two mediocre chicken strips, and a slightly gross grilled chicken sandwich. Water was free. Of course, seated at the table next to us was a family similar to ours chowing down on loads of homemade food. And I didn’t just see it in the cafe–I saw Goldfish (not the animal kind) and other treats clutched in the hands of pretty much every toddler inside the zoo.
Weigh in on Our Quandary
Given Bean’s enthusiasm, this is unlikely to be our only zoo trip. For future visits, however, we have to decide whether to take the snacks in or not.
Mr. Steward is positive that I was literally the only person at the zoo who bothered to read the rules sign, much less to actually follow its instructions. For him, in light of an obvious absence of rule enforcement and a similar lack of reasonably-priced victuals, we cannot be expected to forego our frugal snacks. Additionally, the fact that we already paid for entrance means that they should not have rules that extract more spending from us..
I have several ninety-year-old-trapped-in-a-millennial’s-body retorts about the nature of rules, summarized as follows:
- Just because a rule isn’t followed or even enforced doesn’t make it a bad or even unnecessary rule.
- “Okay unless you get caught” is not a decent standard for engaging in society.
- MR. STEWARD OBVIOUSLY JUST WANTS TO WATCH IT ALL BURN.
Seriously, though, my fear is that the rule exists for the same reason that movie theater snacks are massively overpriced: it might be a key way that the zoo gets revenue. In that case, by choosing to break their rule, I’m depriving them of revenue they may need to continue to provide a service I value. I am not obligated to buy movie theater snacks or zoo lunches. They are, of course, voluntary. But so is visiting the zoo in the first place. I feel that by choosing to visit their establishment, I also agree to abide by the establishment’s rules while I’m there. That means I didn’t get to eat my trail mix, as yummy as it sounded.
What is your take on the situation? Would you bring the snacks into the zoo or leave them at home?