Some marketing halfwit had the bright idea of turning my local 7-Eleven into Starbucks. If I wanted overpriced, over-strong, over-complicated coffee, made for sipping in an armchair while surfing the Web, texting and looking important, I’d go to Starbucks.
It had been a while since I bought coffee at 7-Eleven, but I went there on New Year’s Day, knowing that the deli where I usually go for a simple, black decaf was closed. 7-Eleven used to have one self-service coffee counter where people could choose from regular, decaf and, I believe, hazelnut and French roast. No more.
They now have two coffee counters and the offerings the other day included crumb cake, blueberry, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, “Brazilian bold” and Lord knows what else.
Crumb cake coffee? Do you drink this or eat it? Are there little pieces of debris posing as cake on the bottom?
Blueberry coffee? I like blueberries, but I don’t want my coffee to taste like them just as I don’t want a cherry thrown into my bourbon. Coffee should be coffee, 7-Eleven. Stop futzing with it.
That was merely one of several surprises I had over the New Year’s Day weekend. On a walk one afternoon, I stopped at a CVS drug store for two birthday cards. The bill was $5.63. I told the clerk to save the plastic bag, that I would put the cards in my pocket, and he handed me this very long receipt after folding it a couple of times. I measured the silly thing when I got home. It is two feet long. I’m serious. Two feet long and three inches wide. If I had spent $55.63, how long would my receipt have been? Ten times as long? Twenty feet?
The bill included coupons for Kleenex and Dulcolax (they go together naturally like ham and eggs), restrictions on using the coupons, four bar codes, a pitch for getting flu shots at CVS, a web site address, an 800 number and the address and phone numbers for the store.
What happens if you ask a CVS cashier to think green and eliminate all that nonsense on the receipt that has nothing to do with your purchase? I may ask next time, although I think I already know the answer.
Earlier in the weekend I took my Cabrio to a Hess station for gas and decided a couple of the tires needed air. After filling up the gas tank, I drove over to the air machine. There was a sign that said “free.” Wonderful, as though I should pay for air. I took the valve cap off one of the tires, walked over to the machine, pressed a button and heard the air start rushing out. A small problem. There was no hose on the machine. Are you supposed to bring your own hose to Hess when you need their free air? I assume they don’t expect you to take the tires off and hold them up to the machine.
My oldest granddaughter, Rachel, had been promised she could have the Cabrio to drive to work, so I wanted to get the tires squared away and drove to a nearby Gulf station where they do not have free air. They have 75 cent air. Three quarters give you three minutes to put air in four tires. I invested 75 cents on behalf of Rachel’s safety but am not really sure any of the air went into the tires. If you’re doing it right, I don’t think there should be that loud hissing sound I heard.
All of the above were minor annoyances. The biggest pain came from The New York Times. No, I’m not going to complain that no one at the paper these days seems to know that “data” is a plural noun. This concerns a jigsaw puzzle I bought from The Times - a Christmas present for Irene. It is the front page of the paper on the day she was born, cut up into pieces. The box says 500 pieces. I say its 5,500.
The day after Christmas we - that would be me - opened the box and dumped the contents on the dining room table where they remain nearly two weeks later. We have managed to fit together some of the white pieces with no words on them into a border at the bottom and on the left side. We can’t figure out the border at the top and on the right side. The pieces with words on them have very small print and so many of them look alike that we keep trying to force pieces about a marijuana indictment in New York into a story about an air battle between the Chinese and Japanese.
On New Year’s Eve, Irene fixed a delicious meal of pâté, lobster Newburg, and a green salad with white anchovies. We enjoyed our dinner, with candlelight and glasses of cabernet sauvignon, at one end of the table while the damn puzzle occupied the other end. Every day we both spend time on the puzzle. When I came home from the gym one morning, Irene proudly announced, “I did two more pieces. Took half an hour.”
We are going to finish this puzzle. I predict we will be done by leap year. Not necessarily this leap year but definitely by the one in 2016. We may be slowing down, but we’re as determined as ever to finish what we start.
Let it be noted that on January 13, 2012 at 4:01 p.m. Eastern Standard Time Irene put the final piece in plaee. We had our table back and were quite pleased with ourselves.