Although I have gotten free drinks (these are the non-alcoholic type) in the past, I had some good fortune over the past week. Two different establishments volunteered to give me a free drink even though I was willing to pay for it. This was no scheme. It did not involve taking advantage of any unique promotions. Neither did it involve dressing up like an employee and wondering into the back with an empty cup. Since I am sure the curiosity is killing you (it is killing me as well. Can I walk the story thru with enough warping to make it more interesting than was the original experience?), let me begin….
With a dentist appointment ahead of me that morning, I was concerned to brush before I went. My breakfast of 2 cups of coffee and a piece of toast was followed by my mouth being molested for 2 minutes by my electric toothbrush. After the near silence common to parents who drive their teenage children to nearly any activity(in this case school), I chose to stop at a Panera before my dentist visit. As I lugged in my laptop and threw on my cap, I must have done something to very negatively affect my appearance. After being asked what I wanted, my response of a “medium coffee” was followed by an, “It’s on my today.” My billfold quickly dropped back into the comfortable recesses of my pocket. I gave a hearty “Thank you” at the time I received the cup and again a few minutes afterward. Was I wearing the “secret hat color of the day”? Was I the 125th customer? Did I look so haggard it was all about pity and nothing to do with some mystery to remain unsolved? Or, did my new friend know the dentist would tell me I had been a very, very bad boy lately.?
Just yesterday, my son decided nothing presently living in our refrigerator–a survivor of one of our dinners over the past couple of days–was worth of his consumption. He requested I run him up to the local Whataburger for a hamburger. Since leftovers translate into, “I am not buying you your next meal.”, he knew he would be buying whatever he ate. While driving him there–a five-minute drive even if driven in reverse, I received a phone call. The call was quick but not so quick that I finished it up before my son had his order placed and paid for. After completing my call, I walked to the register. As I pointed my thumb at my son, I said, “I was hoping to place it on his order so he could pay for it.” The employee felt some pity or exercised some liberal interpretation of some company rule dictating when a drink can be given away for free. He handed me a cup and said, “Enjoy.” Without hesitation, my mouth uttered a, “Thank you. I will.” Maybe he sensed father/son time is better when dad has a root beer. Or, maybe he just sensed the free drink would make sure the conversation would stay away from the topics that sometimes strain the father/son relationship. Whatever his logic, it helped!