A Play for Monday
Scene: A coffee shop
CLERK is behind the counter. GUY enters.
GUY: Gimme a coffee.
CLERK: You got it.
GUY: No sugar. Just cream.
CLERK: Here you go. Do you have a Café Saver Card?
CLERK: Would you like one?
GUY: No thanks. I’m good.
CLERK: You could save 10% off this cup of coffee and every time you came in, you can present the card and I’ll punch a hole in it and then once you have ten holes you get a free coffee or iced drink and 20% off any bear claw.
GUY: Yeah, I know how it works. Not interested.
CLERK: Okay, then. That’ll be three dollars and fifty cents.
CLERK: Yeah. It’s expensive when you don’t have the Café Saver card.
GUY: Well, whatever…
CLERK: Can I ask a question?
GUY: Uh…I’m kind of any a hurry.
CLERK: That’s okay. The question I want to ask is why don’t you want a Café Saver card?
GUY: You know. I have so many cards…clutters up the wallet.
CLERK: It doesn’t look like that many cards. And your wallet looks sturdy.
GUY: I really don’t want one.
CLERK: Why not?
GUY: I don’t come here often enough for it to be worth it.
CLERK: How come?
GUY: Wow. Okay, if I’m being honest, I don’t really like the big coffee chains. I’ve got an independent place that I go to most of the time, so…
CLERK: But you didn’t go there today. And I’ve seen you in here before.
GUY: Sometimes I work on this side of town and you’re on the way.
CLERK: So you prefer the other guy, but not enough to go out of the way for him.
GUY: Can I just pay for my coffee?
CLERK: Would you like a Café Saver card?
CLERK: Okay, then. Three Fifty.
(GUY leaves. Comes back in a moment later.)
GUY: You forgot the cream.
CLERK: Oops. Sorry about that.
(CLERK takes coffee, puts cream in it, returns it to GUY)
CLERK: That’ll be one dollar.
CLERK: Cream surcharge. It’s one dollar.
GUY: It wasn’t one dollar when I asked for it the first time.
CLERK: That was part of the promotion for the Café Saver card. If you don’t accept the card, cream is one dollar.
GUY: WHAT THE… CREAM IS FREE!
CLERK: Only if you have the Café Saver card. Would you like a Café Saver card?
CLERK: Well, that’s stupid.
GUY: I’m sorry…what?
CLERK: It’s stupid that you don’t want a Café Saver card. There’s a recession going on and the card saves you money. You are stupid for not getting one. Also, it’s free.
(CLERK takes the cup and removes the cardboard sleeve.)
GUY: What are you doing?
CLERK: Taking back the protective heat sleeve. Unless you’d like to purchase one for a dollar.
GUY: You gave that to me!
CLERK: It was a premium giveaway to help promote –
GUY: The Café Saver card.
CLERK: Yes! Would you like one?
GUY: NO! Where’s your manager?
CLERK: I’m the manager.
GUY: This is insane!
(GUY picks up his cup and burns his hand. Coffee flies everywhere.)
GUY: Ow! Dammit!
CLERK: That’s why you should have purchased the protective heat sleeve.
GUY: I’m not paying a dollar for a protective heat sleeve!
CLERK: You don’t have to pay a dollar. It’s free.
GUY: Then give me one!
CLERK: Certainly. Just fill out this form and I’ll get you a Café Saver card.
GUY: I DON’T WANT A FUCKING CAFÉ SAVER CARD!
CLERK: Please keep your voice down. You’re inside a popular coffee chain.
GUY: Damn, that coffee was hot. Why was that coffee so freaking hot?
CLERK: We serve very hot coffee. Can I ask you a question?
CLERK: What’s in this for you?
GUY: Pardon me?
CLERK: I keep offering you a free thing that will save you money and you keep saying no. What do you hope to gain by that?
GUY: I don’t want a fucking card, okay? If I have a fucking card then it’s like I’m committed to coming here every single fucking day and having a fucking hole punched into my card.
CLERK: Yes. That’s why we give them away. It’s a trick we play.
GUY: Exactly! And I don’t want to be tricked!
CLERK: Well, I just told you about it so it’s not like it’s a good trick.
GUY: That’s beside the point! I don’t want to buy into your whole corporate culture! I want to support the little guy!
CLERK: But you just bought coffee from here.
GUY: Because it was nearby and it tastes good!
CLERK: So our coffee is better than the coffee you get from your regular guy.
GUY: That’s not…you’re twisting my words.
CLERK: No I’m not. You admit that our coffee is good. I’ve seen you here before so I know you come often enough to make use of the Café Saver card. So why don’t you want one?
GUY: Because I don’t want to be “that guy,” okay?
CLERK: What guy?
GUY: The guy that goes to coffee shops and has his little corporate coffee card and hands it over to the corporate coffee clerk and orders a “Venti Latte” in that special corporate coffee language and goes out into the world to his corporate coffee job and then goes home to his corporate coffee wife. I don’t want to be that guy!
CLERK: It seems to me that you almost are that guy. I’m just saying you could be the exact same person you are now and get 20% off bear claw.
GUY: And then I’d have to come in here every day and stare at these…these…napkins with the logos all over them! (He throws napkins on the ground and stomps on them) And these CDs you sell at the counter to try to prove you’re all indie and hip! (He throws CDs on the ground).
CLERK: You’re being completely irrational.
GUY: Why the hell do you even care whether or not I have a goddamn coffee card?
CLERK: It’s called a Café Saver card! Not a “coffee card.” And I want you to have it because it works! I’m doing you a favor! People that have the Café Saver card are happier people! I’ve seen it! They come in here, they get their card punched and every week or two they get a discounted bear claw and they’re happy! Okay? They! Are! Happy! And I am bending over backwards trying to share that happiness with you! Also, I suspect it’s because people that refuse the Café Saver card can’t be trusted! Where are they going to buy their coffee? We have no idea! They are dangerously unpredictable! But if you have a cafe card and I know you have a cafe card and I know you believe in the cafe card and what it means and what it stands for then I know that you and I live in the same world! We have an understanding! We are two people that love the cafe card! We may use them differently, sure. You may be more of a Latte guy and I may be into iced drinks but at the end of the day, you’ve got a cafe card and I’ve got a cafe card and they’re the same damn card! SO TAKE IT!
GUY: I DON’T WANT TO TAKE IT!
CLERK: TAKE THE GODDAMN CARD!
(CLERK attacks GUY and wrestles him to the ground. The two of them tumble over chairs and tables, making a general wreck out of the coffee shop and one another. Eventually they stop and slump with their backs to the counter.)
CLERK: You okay?
GUY: Yeah. You?
CLERK: I’m sorry. It’s just… I’m so tired, you know? People like you… they come in here every day and refuse to take the Café Saver card. And they all have some reason why they don’t want it and they never make any sense. I’m tired of defending the Café Saver card. I’m just…so…tired.
GUY: Yeah… It’s like everywhere I go, someone is trying to sell me a product or an idea or a concept that I just plain don’t want. And when I turn it down, I can feel the judgment just…shooting right out of their eyes at me. And the truth is, I don’t even know why I don’t want it. I just don’t. And I shouldn’t have to take something I don’t want.
CLERK: No. No, you shouldn’t. So maybe you come in here when you want and I sell you your coffee. But that’s it. If we talk at all, it’s about the weather or something. But I don’t try to convince you that I’m right and you don’t try to prove to me that I’m a bad person just because I disagree with you. How does that sound.
GUY: Good. (smiles weakly) That sounds good.
(Really long pause)
CLERK: So now do you want a Café Saver card?
End of Play