Thursday, December 14, 2006


Yesterday, I ran into my husband while Christmas shopping in the rain, and suggested we duck into Starbucks for hot apple cider.

While waiting in line, he picked out a coffee mug. A nice one. An oversize, greedy-looking mug. Flip has a fascination with mugs, and always seems to need a new one, while I have used the same (stolen) one for years. Our kitchen cabinet is overflowing with mugs.

Starbucks was out of cider, and couldn't ring up the mug because it was, apparently, from last year.

I questioned why it was there if they couldn't sell it. The barista called her manager, who also tried to scan the label on the bottom of the mug.

It wouldn't scan.

He said, "I guess it's free."

I said, "No, it's $7.99.

"We can't take money for it because it's not in our computer. "

I am not used to getting something for nothing. "Are you sure?" I asked.

He handed me the mug.

I wished I had taken another one as well, but at this point, it would have been tacky. Even for me.

Today, though, I went back to see if they had any cider. They did. I picked out another mug like the first one, but lined with turquoise instead of wine. They must have pulled the other wine-colored one when they realized they couldn't sell it.

There was a different barista behind the counter. He encountered the same problem. The mug was not in their system and could not be sold.

I said,"There's another one like it. Maybe the SKU will work on that one." I got him the other white and turquoise mug, confident that he would have to give it to me when it didn't scan.

It didn't. He told me that he couldn't sell it to me, and did I want another one instead.

"I like THIS one," I said.

He conferred with his co-worker, and they agreed that the mug could not be sold.

"Maybe it's just there to be given away as advertising," I suggested.

He scowled at me.

"Can't you find another one?" he said.


He got out a thick book and searched through it until he found what he needed. He rang up the mug and cider, which had been brought to me since I was still at the ordering platform.

I was still ahead of the game. Two for the price of one.

The cider was so hot I couldn't drink it. I could barely hold it.

I noticed that one of the local derelicts was still in his station by the bank, where he had been earlier when I gave a couple of dollars to a guy who asked me for money to feed his dog.

I had considered telling him that if he stopped smoking, he'd have more money for food, but didn't. Neither of them looked hungry, but you never know.

The bank guy had seen the whole transaction and smiled at me as I passed, even though I didn't give him anything.

I wanted to tell him that if he had a dog, he'd do a lot better. But I didn't.

I asked him if he would like some hot cider. He said, "Yeah, sure." But he looked at me quizzically.

I could see him wondering, "Why is she giving it to me? Is there something wrong with it?"

"Didn't you like it?" he asked.

"I didn't touch it," I said. "I can't drink anything really hot, but I know that most people can."

Apparently I felt the need to reassure him that the cider wasn't tainted with my cooties or anything.

He smiled and said, "God bless you."

I said, "God bless you, too," and went home.

I think we're friends now.


furiousBall said...

OR he could feed the dog cigarettes...I'm like a veterinary MacGyver..but my solutions end up getting the animals sick.

mist1 said...

I, too, have given up food for cigarettes. I am ashamed.

Open Grove Claudia said...

That's a completely cool story of what comes around goes around. Good for you for passing along your good fortune.

Of course, I would give up almost everything for cigarettes. Which is why I don't smoke....

Stewart Sternberg said...

Okay. This is a great story. Me? I'm going to the Honda dealer tomorrow and look for a car that looks as though it shouldn't be in the computer. Or..maybe a HD plasma tv.

"What? Not in the computer? Try scanning again. Well, then it's free." Of course, I'll have to bring along a pocketful of scanner tags.

Some people have all the luck. You live right.

Odat said...

That was nice of you to give your cider get, you give!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Dogs do not eat cigarettes. Goats do. Also tin cans. And anything else they can find. Dogs are fussy.


But you don't feed them to your cat or your sink, right?


Today I passed the bank and there he was again. I smiled and said "Hi!"

He asked if I had any spare change.

Men used to recognize me. I know that isn't the point, but it hurt my feelings.


Damn. I coulda' had a V-8. In a car. And I wasted all that good luck on a lousy coffee mug.

I feel so cheap.


Then by my calculations, it's my turn to get again. I'm glad we cleared that up.


Nihilistic said...

Free mugs! You're gonna have to tell me which Starbucks to go to!!! ;)

Jerri said...

Soon computers will rule the world.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Chestnut Street. The mugs are oversized, white with wine or turquoise lining.

Of course it depends on who's working there at the time. They don't all have enough imagination to give stuff away.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


You mean they don't?

Pickled Olives said...

awwww, you are you paying it forward.

Jocelyn said...

I love this post--as this is the way I get through my stuff, confusing Starbucks employees, and sharing hot beverages. Well done, heartinsanfrancisco!

Cece said...

Great story! You're such a sweetie.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


You put such a nice spin to it. I thought I was just finding a use for something that was too hot to handle.

But everyone should pay it forward. It's a lovely idea.


You'll have to come and share a hot beverage with me after we confuse the kids at Starbucks; then we'll look for free stuff.

Sound like a plan?


I * heart* you, too.

Le Nightowl said...

I love reading about your adventures in shops.
You have a knack for getting yourself into surrealistic situations! :)

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I've noticed that. It isn't easy being me.

djn said...

Cracks me up... Not in the computer... Geez...

Crankster said...

I like the way you passed your good luck along. Nice.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


It's the mentality of "I just work here-I'm not paid to think."


Well, life presented one of those win-win situations, which should always be acknowledged, if possible.

thethinker said...

Nice job getting the free mugs!

We've got two of those mugs (the one pictured in the middle), but we didn't get them for free.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I got one for nothing and the other for $7.99 plus tax. Win some, lose some.

When I can score every time, I'll write a how-to book and charge people for it. "Hondling for Dummies." maybe, or "Land of the Freebie, Home of the Knave."

Michael C said...

Sadly, I too have a mug fetish...

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Go to Starbucks.

katrice said...

How cool!!

katrice said...

I have too many mugs, too. And don't have the heart to part with them.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


This gives a whole new meaning to "hold your mug."

An explosive said...

WOW!!!!! a free mug.... I got one for my birthday! Love
Starbucks! ~M PS. I love Stewart's suggestion maybe we should all try and see what happens! IT COULD BE A GREAT NEW PHENOMENA! LOL

heartinsanfrancisco said...

My heart,

Yes, Stewart and my husband both had the same idea. Flip thought I was nuts to waste all that good karma on a lousy coffee mug. He was muttering something about a Ferrari when I left.