1st February 2017: Day 13 - Fancy a cuppa?

I haven’t had a cup of coffee in nearly a year, in fact the last coffee I had was on the morning of 8th March 2016 in a shared house in Arizona. I remember because it was the morning after I agreed to try the diet I talked about it on day 4. I initially only drank water (usually with a lemon in it) but more recently, since my trip to Thailand I also drink Green Tea with ginger. I was going to say that I haven’t missed coffee at all, but on the odd occasion that I have a piece of cake I get a sense that something’s missing, and it’s the taste of coffee. I don’t miss it enough to actually have a cup though.

There is a drawback to not drinking coffee; it makes it difficult to go into a café and work because I can't just ask for a cup of hot water. I've done it in Costa Coffee - they don’t charge - I was with someone so at least one of us was buying something. But when I’m on my own I'd feel awkward asking just for a coffee and I won’t ask for a cake or biscuit because I’m 99.9% gluten-free.

I was at Heathrow at the end of November and went to a concession of a well-known chain. I asked if it would be possible to have a cup of hot water. The barista gave me a look and then picked up the smallest size cup. I ask if I could at least have a medium size and offered to pay, he told me that he would have to charge me for a cup of tea. I thanked him and left. As I was walking away I saw his colleague tell him that he should have given me the water. A couple of minutes later I returned and asked for a contact email as I was going to make a complaint because his colleague was right, it was only a cup of hot water. I was willing to give him 50p for the cup or I could have just handed him my cup and he was being unnecessarily officious. He gave me a feedback card and asked if I wanted his name but his colleague gave him another look, poured a cup of water and handed it to me. I thanked her and went on my way. I tried the same thing at the airport in Thailand and the barista filled my cup no questions asked.

So, I don’t go into cafes on my own any more. I understand that someone drinking a free cup of hot water may be taking the space that a paying cappuccino drinking, chocolate gateau eating customer could use and I don’t want the hassle.

Today I went into a café for the first time this year for the purpose of carrying out my challenge which was to leave some money that will pay for teas and/coffees for the next few customers that came in. I went in, asked for a cup of hot water and lemon which they gave me free of charge. I then explained what I was doing and gave them enough money to pay for a few cups of tea/coffee. There were two people serving and one of them didn’t want to accept the money. The other, who I think was the manager, said he would do it for me.  I don’t know if he did because I left. I wanted to feel what it’s like to do something like that without receiving thanks and it feels okay, actually it feels good. It feels good to know that a few people were able to get a free hot drink and save a bit of money. It isn’t going to get them out of debt or pay off their mortgage or buy a new car but, as I like to say, it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

I hope it put a smile on their faces. I hope it gave their day a small lift. I hope it restored their faith in the idea that life is full of pleasant little surprises. I hope it simply made them feel good.

Taiwo Dayo-PayneComment