And now, for a long story


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.



  1. Rebs on September 16, 2010 at 10:18 AM

    Annie – YOU ARE AMAZING. You MUST have this published as a short story!! I read it to myself and then I just read it out loud to Steve and we were DYING. Yelling in exasperation at what happened to you and in delight at how well you can tell a story. Friend, you are a true writer. You have no idea how much I envy you.

    Anyway, I actually could put this exact comment on EVERY post you write, but since I’m trying to NOT freak you out with my love & admiration for you, I won’t. Hope you understand.

    R xoxo

  2. Dani on September 16, 2010 at 11:05 AM

    You are Anne with an “e”! Love it.

  3. Hunter on September 16, 2010 at 11:28 AM


    when will you ever get in gear and write a book about these little experiences you have. I mean really… that never happens to people. nor does walking by a house with a roof band… and then joining them.

    Annie “New York Bestseller”

  4. Rebs on September 16, 2010 at 11:44 AM

    Yea, Hunter, I agree. She’s basically our generation’s Anne Lamott. She is Annie Parsons “New York Bestseller”.

  5. kendall on September 16, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    might I suggest next time ya just turn around and walk out the door:) If the dunce behind the counter can’t see the writing on the wall, then his loss.

    Just sayin.

    of course that writing should include this story

  6. Danielly Nobile on September 16, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    Sometimes life seems a lot like a joke…and not always a funny joke.

    If I was selling you coffee, I would let you pay the 50 cents later!

  7. another Morby on September 16, 2010 at 2:06 PM

    You, dear, can make me laugh like no other! See/meet you at your next wedding!

  8. Joseph Halbert, Esq. on September 16, 2010 at 2:25 PM

    As your legal compatriot, I have to tell you that minimum purchase policies are a violation of credit card companies’ contracts with venders. (Doesn’t matter if it’s a debit card.) You can charge $0.01 if you want to.

  9. Mary on September 16, 2010 at 4:00 PM

    I cannot control the laughter, my shoulders are shaking.

    Man alive, I love you!

  10. Shannalee on September 16, 2010 at 5:01 PM

    You tell a good story.

  11. becca on September 16, 2010 at 6:32 PM

    this is for sure one of my favorite stories of all time. especially ‘anne’

  12. Sarah on September 16, 2010 at 7:23 PM

    I would have suggested that you write a check for $1.89, since you had the check book…..

  13. jess van deusen on September 16, 2010 at 8:11 PM


  14. Katie on September 17, 2010 at 8:18 AM

    OH MY GOODNESS. I am here to tell you that if this had happened at MY coffee shop, we would have sent you on your way knowing you’d bring the 50 cents tomorrow.

  15. Nikki on September 17, 2010 at 9:03 AM


  16. Em on September 17, 2010 at 1:59 PM

    LOVE you & your writing, AP!
    So many lines I enjoyed – this one for sure: “…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.”

  17. wrecklessgirl on September 19, 2010 at 1:55 AM

    all i can do is sing:
    oh, oh. it’s magic, you know?

  18. Little AP on September 19, 2010 at 10:03 AM

    Consider my face a puddle.

  19. K.C. on September 19, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    You were born to write and…you must have a red dot on your forehead that says, “Mess with me.” Go check the mirror.

  20. Miranda on September 21, 2010 at 8:18 AM

    If I were with you at that ridiculous scene, I would have boldly announced, “Do you have any idea who you are talking to?1 THIS IS ANNIE FREAKIN PARSONS!!! She is doing you a favor by drinking your coffee.”

    Because I love you.

  21. annie on September 21, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    Clas. SICK!

    You are too funny. I am proud to also be Anne that never goes by Anne.

  22. Amanda on September 27, 2010 at 2:13 PM

    Love the story. Love the writing!

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