Cruel Beans / by Courtney Mehlhaff

I had a coffee run-in the other day.

I went to a local movie theater to watch a Met Opera Live performance, and because I knew it would be a long production, I stopped to grab some caffeine on the way. I've done this several times at a different theater with no dire consequences, so I didn't even question my routine.

But the woman scanning tickets was older and far crankier at this particular establishment. As soon as she caught sight of my cup, she yelled, "No outside food or beverages!" with the same level of alarm you might apply to "Hey look out!" or "He's got a gun!"

Now, typically, I'm a rule follower. And when I'm busted, I quickly cave. But I must have been feeling my oats that evening, because I decided to try to sweet-talk my way past her.

"Aww, are you sure I can't bring it in?"

Stone face. "You'll have to throw that away. We sell coffee here."

"I just bought this one, and I can't afford to waste it."

Angry face. "It's a HUGE health code violation!" (To me, this explanation seemed less plausible than "We sell coffee here," but what do I know about the free market).

"I guess I'll have to take your word on that one," I said.

"Well, I know. I've been doing this for many many years!" she said, and I believed that.

So, seeing I wouldn't be able to charm her and not interested in throwing away $4 worth of delicious liquid stimulant, I did what any good passive-aggressive, pissed-off Midwesterner would do: I stood in front of her and slowly drank my coffee for 10 minutes. And I mean slooooowly. I'd arrived early enough -- I had plenty of time. 

When I was finished, I very politely and formally asked if I had permission to cross the carpeted threshold into the concession area with my empty cup, because that was where the trash can was.

"As long as you throw it away! You have to throw it away!" she yelled. 

I thought the whole thing was a pretty ballsy stance to take with only a dozen cars in the parking lot, but I guess if you're committed to defending your workplace against rogue java, you have to draw a hard line.

I wonder what she would have shouted if she'd seen the apple fritter I had tucked in my purse?