I’m at the First-Year Experience Conference. Judy Bernstein and I begin our Trade Show booth today. We’re vendors. Other authors parade at their “COME TO THE AUTHOR DINNER!” (Penguin) and tango at a “MEET OUR AUTHORS AT LUNCH!” (Random House) but Judy and I are here for the duration. We’re here to meet and talk and truly be here. PublicAffairs has graced us each with two boxes of our books, which costs each of us nearly $150 just to get out of drayage. Yes, there’s a business of “drayage.”
The conference is in the Downtown Denver Sheraton Hotel. There’s a Starbucks across the street. I thought I’d save the world, yesterday, or at least a tree, and walked into the store with my empty paper cup of Starbucks Coffee from the airport in North Carolina I’d stopped in the day before, passing the hour and a half en route from Newark, New Jersey to here, sort-of changing planes.
I’d kept the paper cup of coffee through the flight to Denver, through the shuttle trip to this hotel, through the night.
“Can you refill this?” I asked the lady behind the counter at Starbucks yesterday morning.
“Sure,” she said. Smiling. “Is it from this morning?”
I didn’t know what to answer. I was already nervous. I’d sworn off Starbucks for a few years, took a vow to support local coffee store owners. I’d kept my vow for far longer than the year I’d promised. Traveling, airport to airport, city to city, I fell back in. I was already “sinning,” going to Starbucks — at least in the Church of Stop Shopping, but that’s a longer story. I nodded my head to the lady behind the counter. Maybe I said “yes.” Maybe I did go that far. Implied or explicit. I… wasn’t fully honest, was I?
“Fifty-four cents for a refill, for today,” the smiling lady said.
I stole. I paid fifty-four cents, and bought a pastry. I went back later in the day and got another refill. That one was intra-day.
This morning, the cup pictured above, I’m already a hardened fifty-four-cent’er. “A refill,” I said to the lady.
“Fifty-four cents,” she smiled. Another lady. The same smile.
I didn’t buy a pastry.
I’m here for two more days. I want to know how long one paper cup can last!
This is a table top in Starbucks from yesterday, a group of people got up and left. I was amazed they didn’t clear their table. That’s just me. A sanctimonious thief.