A lot of the funny things that happen to me are my own fault. One good example is the catastrophe of the kidney beans. I’ve been wanting to tell this story for a while, but only recently my friend TM put the icing on the cake for me.
This post is a “consumables post.” That means that the State Department has determined that a significant amount of food items that an average American might want to buy are not available on the local market. In order to keep us supplied with peanut butter, cake mix, canned soup, and the like, we are allowed to ship in a certain amount of consumable items. We pay for the items, but we don’t have to pay for shipping, and restrictions on liquid items don’t apply. It’s a nice benefit, and helps to compensate for living at a “hardship post” like Shenyang.
Soon after I arrived a post, I did a survey of things that are available locally (katsup, salt, flour, Snickers) and things that aren’t (granola bars, corn tortillas, breakfast cereal), or that are really expensive (wine, coffee), and prepared my order. There is a military warehouse in Europe that we can use for consumables orders. It’s really convenient: there is a spreadsheet that has thousands of items on it, you tick the box next to the items you want, give them your credit card number, and you get your goodies in a few weeks. Super easy.
Among the items in my order were liquor, pasta, canned tomatoes, garbanzo beans (for hummus), black beans, salsa, and kidney beans. It was the last item that was the mistake.
I thought that I was ordering two flats (24 cans) of canned kidney beans. You know, for making chili and the like. Who doesn’t need kidney beans?
The spreadsheet from the warehouse is formatted in a really small font, hard to read. Plus, the lines are very close together. Plus, I need new glasses. Plus, I’m a careless idiot.
I thought that I ticked the box next to the line for canned kidney beans. Instead, though, I ticked the box next to the line for dry kidney beans. Instead of 24 cans of kidney beans, I bought 24 pounds of dry kidney beans.
24 pounds of dry beans is a lot of beans. It’s approximately a lifetime supply of beans.
Over the last two years, I have made a lot of chili. Thanks to all my coworkers for coming over and helping me eat chili. And thanks to the Consulate for putting on the chili cook-off. My “generous” contribution of the beans helped me get rid of about half of my beans. I got rid of many bags by giving them away. I only have three pounds left.
The story was a good cautionary tale for my coworkers when they were planning their consumables orders. Be sure you look at that spreadsheet carefully, I’d helpfully warn people. Also, if you need kidney beans, I’m your guy, I’d hopefully offer.
A few weeks ago, my friend TM was telling me about buying something from Amazon. When her order came in, she realized that she accidentally ordered the wrong thing. She told me: “I kidney beaned my order!”
I have contributed to the creation of a new family word. I’m famous. And an idiot.