I went to Dunkin Donuts, I went to the counter and told the guy, “Hey man, I missed free coffee day,” free coffee day was like a month ago, “I missed it, but I’m here, and I’m really sorry I’m so late. I don’t know what happened, it’s like, I was all about the free coffee, I kept making sure to remember to come in for the free coffee, and I don’t know what happened, I just totally forgot about it,” the guy behind the counter had a nametag that said “Jeff.” I said, “Hey, Jeff, do you think I could still get one of those free coffees? Please?” And I did one of those apologetic smiles, like come on, please?
And Jeff was like, “Come on, that was two weeks ago.”
“I know. I’m really sorry. I wouldn’t even bother asking, I know this is like super embarrassing. And it’s not even about not paying for the coffee. It’s just, I really … I was really looking forward to free coffee day. And it’s like, I’m in here all the time.”
“Well,” Jeff said, “Not all the time. Because free coffee day was two weeks ago. So you haven’t been here in two weeks.”
“OK, well these past two weeks have been kind of crazy …”
“You see that guy over in the corner?” I turned around and saw this old guy with a big bushy moustache reading a gigantic newspaper. He had the smallest cup of coffee I’ve ever seen placed at his table, like a paper cup, like I didn’t even know Dunkin had those tiny paper cups. “Hey Joe!” Jeff called out.
“What’s up?” the old man looked toward us.
“That’s Joe,” Jeff said to me. “He’s here every day, a regular.”
I didn’t know what point Jeff was trying to make here. “Listen Jeff,” I said, “I’m not trying to make this a thing about being like the number one customer. I come in here enough.”
“Do you?” Jeff said.
“Jeff, what did you call my name for?” Joe called over from his table in the corner.
I waited for Jeff to answer, but he didn’t break eye contact with me. So after an awkward half second, I said, “I think I come in enough.” Jeff didn’t look convinced, so I added, “And when I do come in, I always buy an extra large coffee with a turbo shot, and then I always get one or two donuts. That’s like six bucks. How much does Joe spend on that tiny coffee? And for real,” and I lowered my voice a little so Joe wouldn’t hear me, “how long does he sit there every day, just reading the paper? Is that the kind of customer you’re trying to please?”
Jeff looked at me, but didn’t say anything back. Maybe I was getting through to him.
“Hey Joe,” I called out this time.
The old man turned around and said, “Who are you?”
I said, “Were you here for free coffee day two weeks ago?”
“Of course I was here for free coffee day,” Joe replied, folding his huge newspaper down the front. “I always just get a small coffee,” he said. “But on free coffee day they give you a medium. It was too much coffee, so I didn’t want it to go to waste. I said to Jeff, I said, Jeff, just give me a small. But Jeff wouldn’t, he said a small was gonna cost me. But a medium was free. Go figure. So I took the medium. And it was just really … just really too much coffee. Who drinks that much coffee?”
I thought Joe’s testimony basically made my argument right there, but Jeff didn’t look pleased. Maybe I shouldn’t have had Joe undermine the company line. Maybe I should have just begged.
“Come on,” I tried again. “Please?”
But Jeff didn’t budge. I wanted to storm out, but I also really wanted some coffee, so I got my extra large with a turbo shot, my two donuts. After he gave me my drink, I thought he was maybe going to offer the next person in line a free coffee to spite me. But no, it was just, “Can I help you?”
On my way out the door, Joe was staring me down. He saw my extra large coffee and said, “Holy smokes, you kids drink way too much coffee. You know, before 1980, 1985, you never saw coffee cups that big. Never. And let me tell you …”
Usually I’m a nice guy with old people. Like, if they want to talk my ear off, I’ll give them two or three minutes of smiles and eye contact. But I was pissed off at not getting any free coffee, and so I just got out, I just gave Joe a polite nod, and I left.