I go up to the counter to pay for my hot chocolate. The cashier asks if I want to buy a bag of coffee grinds. She catches me at a bad moment. Instead of smiling and simply replying, “No, thank you,” I dead pan “I hate coffee” deliberately overlooking the irony of our location.
She smiles undaunted and replies instantly “Surely you must have some friends that enjoy coffee.” Not a question. A statement.
I briefly consider spitting out “I don’t have any friends,” but I’m not playing a lone gun for hire. Instead I make my stand on privelidge and scorn. “I don’t socialize with any of those kinds of people.” I draw out the word “those” as if it’s 1961 and no one has marched on Selma, Alabama yet.
We lock eyes. She knows no upselling will happen this day, at this transaction, but there’s a pause as if she’s considering another try just to piss me off. I already have a line at the ready. Something inappropriate involving dead puppies. I’m hoping, daring her to go there because I’m already here.
Then she smiles. The damning truth is evident. She’s already won. “That’ll be $3.69 please” she smirks. I curse under my breath as I realize that this game was over long before the coffee grinds gambit.
I squeeze my credit card in despair. I consider taking out the twenty in my wallet just to make her break it. But the truth is clear. I’m the one that’s broken.
“Would you like a receipt?” she chirps. Her finger on the register ready to produce a physical token of my defeat.
“No.” A beat. “Thank you.” I gather up what’s left of my dignity. I shuffle off to get my drink, wondering where the cute cashier is today.