It all started when my boyfriend’s roommate/best friend got this $50 Starbucks giftcard from her Mom. She doesn’t drink Starbucks so she gave it to me cause there’s one in the lobby of the building where I work. So free coffee is super, right? Well.
The problem is that I kind of developed this friendlybusinessrelationship with the Coffee Cart Guy who has a stand right outside the entrance of my building. It had taken a couple of weeks, but soon enough I achieved “the usual” status with him, which was big for me cause I’ve never really achieved this status with a vendor before. In general, I’m pretty sure Deli Clerks or Guys Flipping Hamburgers have always found me squirrel-like and cold. But this guy, we really struck something up, to the point that all he’d have to do is see my face and that would be it. He’d say, “Medium no sugar?” but the question-mark inflection was more of a formality cause he wasn’t waiting for an answer, he just poured that coffee wholeheartedly. Actually I sometimes wanted sugar or maybe a larger size but I didn’t really have time to tell him and, but it didn’t really matter, it was fine. The important thing was that, wow, I made a connection with this guy, he called me “buddy” and “my friend,” it was all very human and charming.
But then I get this Starbucks card and this existential crisis hits me. Now I never questioned it in my mind, obviously I’m going take the free coffee. And Starbucks is good coffee too, so yeah, that was never the issue. But the first morning I decided to walk past him and enter the lobby for Starbucks, I felt this unexpected guilt. I couldn’t even look him in the face. It was really unexpected. And as some tool at ‘Bucks who called me “boss” poured my grande whatever, all I could see was my Coffee Cart Guy, his smiling face just sinking as I snub past him, , and of course, in my self-inflated imagination, he had already poured my medium coffee no sugar, only to throw it cursedly in the face of the next person in line.
But no it’s totally fine, I found this back entrance to my building so I don’t have to pass him anymore. And once the $50 runs out I might be back, if he’ll have me.