Liz Fraser, 16h November 2009
Saturday. Rain. Costa.
This is a weekly ritual we like to perform, where mummy and daddy drink enough caffeine to keep them going through the afternoon, while skim-reading some lovely-looking books we’d like to read properly but know we’ll never find the time to (proof being the five unfinished books we both have stacked up beside the bed) and our kids stop trashing the house because they’re not in it. Costa time is also ‘read to our kids’ time – a time I absolutely LOVE, because I can’t see my dishwasher, or the unfolded laundry, or the grimy windows or the laptop.
In other words, I can be with my kids without being distracted by housework/work work every few seconds.
Of course, the eldest two read to themselves, and I’d guess they’ve crunched through several hundred books over the many cappucinos their parents have drunk dring that time. There’s a sort of economy there: 200 cappucinos cost less than 200 books, so I’m saving money by buying coffee. Well, I’m sticking with that theory anyway.
But this weekend brings an irritating dimension. Costa’s dishwasher is broken. (Wait, that’s not the irritating thing.) All coffee is now served in paper cups until the dishwasher man comes. No worries. I can do the paper cup thing. But here comes the irritation: with the froth poured and the chocolate sprinkled, the barista moves to put a plastic lid on top. There follows this conversation:
“It’s fine – I don’t need a lid, thanks.”
“I have to put a lid on it.”
“No, really. I’m just sitting over there. I don’t need a lid.”
“I have to put a lid on it. It’s the rules.”
“It’s five metres away. It’s fine, really.”
“I have to.”
“But I come here every week. You know I do. And I’ve never tripped and burned myself. I honestly don’t need a lid.”
“I know. But it’s health and safety. If you DO trip….”
“But I won’t.”
“Yeah, but if you DID.”
“OK fine, you give me the lid.”
The lid is put on the cappucino.
“It’s OK. Enjoy it.”
I pay. The coffee is mine now, and I can choose to burn myself with it or not. It’s now my free choice. I move one pace to my right, take the lid off, and place it in the bin. The barrista has done his job, and ticked a box. I’ve done mine, and been a good, complient, wasteful customer.
Twenty minutes later my kids declare they are hungry, so off they go to buy themselves a (very rare) treat. They purchase a small – and I mean perhaps 10cm small, at the very most – gingerbread Rudolf. It costs three times what it should. And it comes in the biggest cardboard box I’ve ever seen any foodstuff come in.
It’s like serving a Smartie in a wheelie bin.
“What is THAT for?!” I ask, incredulous.
“It’s for the elf’s safety,” beams my son. “The man said so.”
I just bet he did.
And lo, my children have entered the world of mindless, needless, wastefulness. Next time I’m bringing my own cup, and my own paper bag. Wonder what Health and Safety will say about that….