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And now, for a long story

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

When I was a senior in college, I stopped every morning on the way to class at a coffee shop called the Java Bean.  Every day, I ordered the same thing: a 16 oz. cup of coffee with room.  That’s all, nice and simple.  The baristas recognized me, and I always had exact change for my coffee – $1.89.

Until one day.

I walked into the Java Bean, ordered my coffee, and opened my wallet to find $1.39.  I was 50 cents short – but these people knew me.  They knew I would be back tomorrow.  They knew that I always ordered the same thing.  They would take $1.39 for my coffee today, knowing I would be back in the morning with the difference.  Right?

“I only have $1.39,” I explained to the man at the counter.  I waited for him to waive the extra 50 cents, to tell me that the Java Bean loves me, to say, “I’ve gotcha, girl,” and send me on my way with a wink.  I waited.  I waited.

But this man knew no compassion.  He just stared at me.

Finally, he said, “Well, do you have a credit card?”

I was slightly shocked, but cooperatively opened my wallet and handed over my debit card.  I couldn’t believe that he wasn’t going to let me slide on out of there, cup of joe in hand, but whatever.  I didn’t invent coffee.  I didn’t invent money.  I’m just here for the buzz.

“There’s a $10 minimum on credit card purchases,” he said.

Buzz kill.

But never fear!  This man had an idea.  “You’re here every morning – why don’t you get a pre-paid card for your coffee?  If you pay for 10 cups right now, we’ll give you this punch card.  I know you’ll make good use of it.”  Yes, of course you know I’ll make good use of it – I’m here EVERY MORNING and will bring an extra 50 cents tomorrow – why don’t you love me?

“Well, okay,” I found myself saying.  My card was about to be charged $19.15 – $18.90 for 10 cups of coffee, plus a 25 cent credit card fee – all because I used two quarters in a parking meter, but no big deal.

I watched this man swipe my card, and then swipe it again, and then again and again and again – but the machine wasn’t having it.

At this point, there was a line of about 6 people behind me, stomping the ground like horses.  Come to think of it, they were exhaling loudly like horses, too – that exasperated puff of impatience.  My card continued to be no good, and finally, desperate for caffeine and escape, I couldn’t take the pressure.

“I’ll write a check!” I exclaimed.  “My checkbook is in the car.  I’ll be right back.”  I dashed out of the Java Bean, and returned to scribble a check for $19.15.  I handed it over just to have the man remind me, “Since this isn’t a credit card purchase, it’s only $18.90.”

My turn to exhale like a horse.

I tore up the check, and wrote a new one for $18.90.  The moment that I gave it to the coffee man, his dim mental lightbulb flared as he realized that the credit card machine had not been plugged in.

His “Aha!” moment was my “GAH” moment.

He handed me my freshly punched punch card and a paper cup for my coffee.  I walked to the pump pot on the counter to fill my cup and get on with my life, but the coffee pot was empty.

The coffee pot was empty.  I had just paid $18.90 and wasted 9 minutes of my life to discover that the coffee pot was empty.

I lifted the pot and marched it to the man at the counter.  “I’m sorry, but could I get some COFFEE?” I practically bellowed.

Scene?  Officially made.

I found an arm chair in the corner to sit in and stew as a fresh pot of coffee was being brewed.  I watched the clock on the wall, every ticking second matching the time-bomb in my chest.  My face was scrunched.  I was late for class, I was desperate for caffeine, and I was down $18.90.

“Anne,” the man called.  “Anne, come here.”  He had seen my name on my credit card – Anne Parsons – and was now calling me by my given name that I never go by, because if there’s anything that Annie Parsons is not, it is Anne.

“I’m so sorry for the craziness.  Here’s a coupon for the next time you’re in.”

The coupon?  50 cents off my next purchase.

Finally Friday

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Holy Mother of Pearl – do you have any idea how happy all of your delurking made me? It was like the clouds opened up and God showered me with Sweet Tarts ALL DAY LONG! Reading your messages made me grin out loud, if there is such a thing – and I know there is, since I did it. I learned of people that I had no idea existed, and heard from people that I knew existed but had no idea were frequent readers.

Thank you for reading this little blog. No, I’m serious. Thank you. Your sweet words throughout the years have been life to my soul, and your companionship, even just through this crazy internet contraption, has been such an encouragement. Plus – so many of you have great blogs yourself! I’m subscribing to all sorts of new ones after your delurking yesterday.

I made cookies last night, and I came up with a brilliant idea. You know how Crisco has started packaging their shortening in little blocks wrapped in paper, for easy measuring? Gone are the days of trying to level 1 cup of Crisco in a measuring cup, which only ever winds up giving you a lardy hand.

If I ever form a band, maybe we’ll call ourselves Lardy Hand?

The Lardy Hand Band?


So here’s my idea: what Crisco has done with shortening… someone needs to do that with peanut butter. Because it’s always the same dilemma. HOW is one supposed to gracefully and easily measure peanut butter without making a huge mess? I want my peanut butter in stick form!

You heard it here first.

Tonight, I am driving to Chattanooga to take part in a Special Edition Running Club. Tomorrow morning, we’ll run along the river, and then Josh’s mom Deb is making us breakfast. Free food has always been the way to my heart, and yes, I will drive 133 miles to get it.

The last time I was in Chattanooga was in September for a wedding. I drove down by myself, and stopped at the Wal-Mart to get a card to go with my gift. And walking out of the store, in front of God and rednecks and everyone, my wrap dress came unwrapped. Just fell open, right there in the parking lot. Let’s hope for better luck this time.

And finally, based on my life every single morning, something I would like to share.

Travel Mug
– a little poem by Annie Parsons
just once
I would like to discover
a travel mug that

All over my lap
All over my life

Leaving behind
the evidence of
my addiction

and exposing me
as the sloven
I am.

Thoughts thought in the last 10 minutes

Friday, December 5th, 2008

“I’m tired.”
“Really tired.”
“I need coffee.”
“I didn’t get coffee this morning.”
“I also didn’t shower.”
“That’s beside the point.”
“I should go downstairs to the coffee shop.”
“Okay, I’ll go.”
“This elevator takes forever.”
“Oh no, someone else is getting on the elevator.”
“Pretend to count change in your wallet.”
“Watch the lights – floor 5… 4… 3… 2…”
“Finally – lobby!”
“Walk quickly.”
“Wait – there’s a piano in the lobby?”
“For the holiday spirit?”
“Is she playing ‘Piano Man’?”
“That’s weird.”
“If I could be supplied with caffeine intravenously, I would.”

”I’d strap on a CamelBak of espresso.”
”They should market those! I SHOULD MARKET THOSE!”
“I need a big cup of coffee.”
“Oh my goodness, is that Patrick Swayze?”
“No, but it looks like him.”
[sing along with “Every Breath You Take,” playing on the coffee shop speakers]
“Hey, that guy is singing, too!”
“So is the girl behind the counter!”
“This is fun.”
[I keep calling baby, baby, pleeeeeeeease…]
“Good song.”
“Wow, that guy really looks like Patrick Swayze.”
“Remember when you saw the Police in Seattle last year?”
“Sting is attractive.”
“But not as attractive as Kevin Costner.”
“I can’t believe I’m attracted to Kevin Costner.”
“Or Dennis Quaid.”
“But yes I can.”
“Is Patrick Swayze attractive?”
“Not really.”
“What’s this I hear?”
“Is this ‘The Time of My Life’?”
“Where’s Patrick Swayze man?”
“Does he care that his song is playing?”
“Dude, it’s your song!”
“There he goes – out the door.”
“Nobody puts Baby in the corner.”
“Exact change for coffee – win.”
“Hurry back to elevator.”
“Yessss – elevator to myself… except… wait…”
“Mullet man is getting on.”
“Don’t stare.”
“Look at the ground.”
“But… that MULLET.”
“Annie, don’t stare.”
“Look at your coffee.”
“Back to your desk.”

“So many brochures to stuff.”
“But first.”
“Any emails?”
“What does it say?”
“It says, ‘Sometimes I wish I was like one of those rainforest frogs who could switch genders and have sex with itself and get pregnant independently. I mean I don’t ACTUALLY wish that. But sometimes I do.’”

“I love that friend.”

Nope. Not telling you who the friend was. But let’s just say that when it comes to drama with the menfolk, sometimes I feel the exact same way.

A good story – a true story

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Yesterday morning, I got a phone call from a girl saying that she worked down the street at Bongo Java. “We have a surprise here waiting for you – come in anytime this morning and it will be waiting for you.” A SURPRISE?? I never get surprises!

I walked down to the coffee shop, and introduced myself at the counter. The girl reached behind the counter and pulled out a paper coffee cup with a lid on it; written on the cup was a note: “Annie, everyone needs a place to get away, reflect, and people watch. Enjoy!” and was signed from someone who lives out of town, someone who is becoming strangely important to me. Inside the cup was a gift card to Bongo Java.

It was the nicest, most thoughtful gesture I’ve experienced in ages. Simple, but creative. It made me feel like I mattered to someone, and really, isn’t that what we all want? Just to matter to someone?

I beamed all day. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: thank you.