You will rarely find me inside a Starbucks. I don’t drink coffee and usually my reason for venturing inside one is to do people watching research for my next book. I will, on occasion use Starbucks solely for the purpose of getting a cup to act as Diet Coke camouflage. Sadly, we live in world where entering a meeting with a 44 ounce styrofoam cup filled with chunklet ice, the liquid perfection known as Diet Coke with splash of cherry topped off with a lid and a red straw is considered not only not classy, but unprofessional and brands you as a hater of the environment what with the styrofoam and always gets someone talking about American’s second silent killer, right behind heart disease, death by Diet Coke. To not subject myself to these diatribes I have been known to go into a Starbucks and order a venti hot tea. I then go to my car, dump out the hot water, save the lemon, pour my Diet Coke into the Starbucks cup, throw in the lemon, and presto chango I’m an upstanding member of society and can enter a meeting with an “acceptable” beverage in an acceptable cup. I try to reuse my Starbucks cup as long as I can, but eventually it starts to look shabby necessitating another trip to Starbucks.
That was the case this morning. I was standing in line at Starbucks to basically buy a cup. I was purse-less. I had $2.00 in one hand, the other held my car keys. I ordered my cup of hot tea to go and gave the cashier one dollar bill and four quarters that’s when a woman who had standing by the counter leaned in and paid for my drink. She said she was “paying it forward.” I profusely thanked, but said there was no need for her to do so. She rather eagerly insisted so I let her and then shifted over to the line where you hover while your beverage is made. This confused the business suited Pay it Forward woman. She looked at me, her 40ish forehead crinkled and her pink coral lips pursed and asked, “What are doing? You need to go back and pay it forward to the next person in line.”
“Oh, no worries,” I said smiling. “I will for sure pay it forward sometime today.”
“No, no, that’s not the way it works,” she announced. “You need to pay it forward NOW.”
Is there some Pay It Forward rule book I don’t know about? Did I not get the email about the correct Pay It Forward procedure? As I was thinking about this I look over at the woman who was behind me in line. She’s ordering six coffee drinks, two of them those Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino milkshake things. I know from the rare occasion when I will buy the drink for my daughter that they cost almost 5 bucks. I had one dollar and change on me. I would need to take out a small loan to pay for that women’s coffee bill. I’m guessing she was doing the caffeine run for her office. I then look back at the Pay It Forward woman whose hasn’t given up her quest for me to follow her explicit orders.
“Look,” I gently say in a whisper. “I don’t have the money on me to pay for that women’s rather large coffee order. I came in here with one dollar and change. So, you’re going to have to trust me that I will pay it forward later today.”
Just then a Starbucks employee calls out my name, Thank God. I can grab my tea and make my escape. Clutching my Starbucks cup I walk quickly to the door, open it and jog to my car. All’s good right? Wrong. I hear footsteps. Pay it Forward has followed me. I stop, turn around and say, “Okay, maam you are now officially freaking me out.”
“I want my money back,” she says.
“Excuse me?” I say.
“I want my money back for your drink I paid for.”
Okay, that’s a no brainer. I wish I had thought of that and just given her my one dollar and 3 quarters about 4 minutes ago. “Sure, no problem. Here you go.” I say as I unfurl my hand holding my money and give it to her. Problem solved. I proceed to unlock my car door and open it. She’s still following me. I slid in my car and she peers in and sees my purse on the floorboard.
“Oh, that’s what I thought. You do have money you just don’t want to use it. That’s what’s wrong with America – people like you. People that don’t pay it forward!”
I shake my head, look at her and say, “You know what? I noticed you standing by the Starbucks counter. I’m thinking you waited until somebody ordered the cheapest thing on the menu and then did your whole pay it forward thing. Well, I’m going to pay it forward to you in a big way. I’m going to write about you and your pathological desire to have everyone adhere to your strict paying it forward policy.
She huffed and said, “You can’t write about me.”
“Oh, yes I can,” I say with gusto. “The First Amendment is all about paying it forward.”
I then put my car in drive and pull away. She stands there and gives me the evil eye with her hands on her hips as I drive out of the parking lot. My response to that it to turn on my car’s back windshield wiper which is messed up and sprays water not on my windshield but jettisons it into the air. I’m pretty sure she got some wiper fluid on her, that makes me happy. Once I was, what I felt, was a safe distance away. I stopped my car, dumped out the hot water and did the beverage transfer all the while thinking of the things I have to put up with just to enjoy a freaking Diet Coke. You would think I was ingesting liquid heroin. That is what’s wrong with the world – the Diet Coke haters and the rigid Pay it Forwarders. Both groups need to relax and you know the perfect way to do that? Yeah, that’s right by enjoying an icy Diet Coke. I swear.
For all thinks wonderfully Snarky go to www.snarkygear.com where you can find T-shirts, ecards for Facebook and my brand new book – Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. Here’s a little ditty about it:
The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good. Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.
If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you.
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