Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Styrofoam Cup

After a recent visit to my mother's house, Judy and I decided to get coffees to enjoy on the drive home. My mother lives near a nice, old-fashioned village with the type of Main Street you can't walk down without seeing friends and neighbors. I parked in front of the bagel place and opened my door.

"No, wait a second," Judy said as she peered out the passenger side window at red block letters reading, "HOT BAGELS." "I think there’s a slightly nicer coffee place on the other end of town."

I re-entered traffic, and after a red light and a couple of near "cell phone wrecks," I pulled into another parking spot near where she thought the coffee place was. But there was no obvious coffee shop, just a clothing store, a pizza place and a florist.

“Just get out and walk around a minute,” she said. “It’s there.”

I opened my car door and stepped out into the Main Street traffic. A woman driving a white Cadillac Escalade and, yes, talking on her cell phone, nearly ended my life. I made it onto the sidewalk, walked a few hundred feet from the car, found no coffee shop, and walked back to the car.

Through the windshield I saw Judy leaning over the front seat playing with our daughter who was in her carseat. When my daughter saw me approach, I ran up to the car door and smushed my face against the window making "farty noises." A woman walked by and shook her head in disapproval but my daughter went wild with laughter. Judy rolled down her window. I put my hand on the roof of the car, leaned close, and dropped the bad news, “I see the place you’re talking about, but it’s out of business.” "Okay," Judy said, "Just turn around and we’ll get it from the bagel shop.”

Now there are a couple of things in life that I am rather stubborn about. One is that I’ll never, under no circumstances, pull over to ask for directions. The other, is that I hate to retrace my steps.

“No,” I said. "We’ll find another place. There are loads of bagel shops around here.” Judy rolled her eyes.

Outside of the main village now, there was nothing but depressing strip malls, newspaper-strewn roads, auto collision shops, self-defense centers, gas stations, and chain stores. Everything was gray. I saw a flock of Starlings lined up along the top of a large green road sign and a flock of Pigeons roosting in the shelter of an overpass. I noticed sagging electrical wires hanging from their splintered telephone poles. A dog with three legs hobbled along the shoulder of the road, stumbled and landed on its little doggie face. A flock of crows watched hungrily as it struggled to regain its footing. A man in a wheelchair wept.

The situation appeared hopeless but I desperately wanted a coffee. It was time to make the easy decision and get on with our trip. Against all of my better judgements and instincts, I pulled into a Dunkin' Donuts Drive Thru and narrowly missed hitting a confused-looking old woman who was wandering around aimlessly in her pajamas.

"Get out of the fucking road, you hag!" Judy yelled from the car window.

"Damn Judy, chill." I said. She really has no patience for old people... Anyway, just then she realized where I was going for our coffees and her jaw dropped in amazement. "What are you doing?" she asked. "Nothing," I said. Keep playing with Chela. Chela chirped from the backseat, "What Mommy? What Mommy?" And then, "Mommy, why is that lady in her pajamas? Does her nose bleeding?"

I pulled up and a man’s voice, heavy with accent, crackled through the brown speaker of the Drive-Thru menu. “Hello! Welcome to Dunkin Donuts, may I take your order please?”

I ordered the coffees. However, immediately after I placed the order, I took a good look at the pictures on the huge menu. Cups of Dunkin Donuts coffee posed alongside various breakfast items... here with an egg sandwich; there, with a bagel. In each of these pictures the coffee was pictured in a styrofoam cup, with a little curl of steam, shaped approximately like a question mark, rising from the surface of the coffee. The styrofoam cups bothered me and my conscious stirred. I thought of a local wildlife refuge near my house and a display they have of certain items and how long it takes them to decompose.

The display is simple. It starts with an orange. A small white sign over the orange says, "Two weeks." Next to the orange is something that takes longer, like a chicken bone, and it says "Two months." To be honest, I don't remember how long it takes for each different thing to decompose, okay? But I do remember that the sign over the styrofoam cup reads, “NEVER.” Styrofoam never goes away. Not in this lifetime, not in the next, never...

I had yet to pull away from the window and I decided I had to act.

“Excuse me?” I said to the menu.

“Yes sir?” crackled the brown drive-thru speaker.

“Can you put those coffees in paper cups? Or do you only have styrofoam cups?”

An unsteady pause told me that taking this dude out of his normal transaction conversation was not a good idea.

“I’m sorry sir…" The man sounded impatient. "You ordered two coffees, correct?”

“Yes, I just don’t want them in sty…”

“Okay then sir," he interrupted, "please drive around.”

“No, wait," I persisted. "See, I don’t want the coffees if they’re in Styrofoam cups.”

“Okay sir, now you are saying that you do not want the coffees.”

“No, I want the coffees, I don’t want the cups.”

“I do not understand sir.”

At this point I stepped on the gas, tore around the drive thru, and gave the worker “the business” with my left hand. The man slid open the drive thru window and yelled, "Fuck you! Fucker man!" as I pulled back onto the depressing road.

Judy looked alarmed. "What the hell are you doing?"

“We'll find a place with PAPER cups!" I yelled in a sort of crazed tone as I swerved to miss a cluster of people protesting a larger cluster of hispanic day-laborers.

However, it wasn’t so simple. At this point, our options had become severely limited. We pointed the car towards the expressway and hoped to find some welcoming little shop that we had somehow overlooked on our many trips. In the rearview mirror I caught Chela's eyes. She was smiling and singing, "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music.

To be continued...


Anonymous said...

you are retarded. drink your f'n coffee. cant wait to read your next post about your part in the local community theater

Dinosaur Trader said...

Yeah, okay, I'll drink my fucking coffee... out of your goddamn skull!

How about that?

As for my participation in my local community theater, I am looking forward to reading some poems from my collection "The Folly Of Spring" this April. See you there.


Dinosister said...

I almost fell off my chair at work reading that you actually approached a dunkin donuts drive thru. Perhaps I should do a post about our experience with their rival company and your reaction? I think I will start writing it up on my lunch hour...

Dinosaur Trader said...

How about for Monday? That way you have 4 whole days to toil at it!


Anonymous said...

This cant be real man, your just making all these stories up to keep your site going. No one can possibly be this much of a complete cunt. I bet the duncan donut kid would bust your sorry ass.

Anonymous said...

the fly just smoked your history posts

Dinosaur Trader said...

Yeah, I've enjoyed his new history posts. It's good to see I've had some influence on the boy. He's a very entertaining writer and he's got a great story.

Of course, that takes nothing away from my history posts.


Dinosaur Trader said...

Fuck... worst morning in weeks. Heading out to surf.


Jd said...

"cant be real man"

really nails you well you anonymous fuck. be a man and post up.

Dinosister said...

You are on for Monday DT!

Anonymous said...

awesome, give some kid making basic wages a hard time. fuck you.

Anonymous said...

Bravely spoken JD. dt & pelosi saving the planet one cup at a time.

Anonymous said...

I hate styrofoam cups, too. Not because of the environment, I just think they feel gross. Dunkin Donuts serves their espresso drinks in paper cups. Next time, order a latte.