Just the other day, I did two things I had sworn I would never do. And I did them on the same day.
First, I threw away a book.
And second, I bought a Starbucks product.
Both on the same day. Consider this a confession.
Last August we held a monster yard sale on our road in the country. Neighbours joined in. I had hundreds of books for sale, all from my personal library. I have been collecting ̶ and rescuing (but that is another story) ̶ books for 70 years.
The monster sale was a roaring success. Except . . . that very few books sold.
So, over the next few months, I found homes for the leftovers. And I had hundreds, hundreds of leftovers. The other day, I took the last volumes to Thunder Bay. I planned to give them away to the Thrift Store because nobody else wanted them.
When I told them what I had in the boxes, I was turned down. Flatly. Nobody, it seems ̶ nobody reads Reader’s Digest Condensed Books any more. These are good solid volumes, with hours, weeks, and sometimes months of reading pleasure in a single volume. Nobody wants them. Even to build shelving with . . . With a few planks, one could build shelving that reaches the roof. Nobody wants Reader’s Digest Condensed Books any more.
The Thrift Store was my last resort. I had to clear space for our next monster yard sale, coming in August. There was only one place that would accept these books. I drove to the recycling depot on Front Street (near the waterfront) and dumped the boxes in a waste container. There was no one to stop me.
It breaks my heart.
I soon found myself wandering the aisles among thousands, yes, thousands and thousands of books. These were books that people wanted, books that people would pay good money for, books that have helped create a chain of bookstores across Canada. And right next to Chapters, under the same roof, actually, is a Starbucks.
Now, I have never patronized Starbucks. And when you hear this story, you will know why.
But, I had a thirst. For some reason, my throat was dry. When I develop a thirst, I usually look for a Tim Hortons. On this occasion, a Timmys was ten minutes away. Ten minutes. In a city, nobody wants to waste ten minutes if there is a satisfactory alternative available. And I, a country boy, was thinking like a city boy. After all, hadn’t I just destroyed several million words in a few minutes? And I knew where there were hundreds of millions more within arm’s reach.
I marched to that Starbucks counter and I ordered a café mocha. Okay . . . Starbucks does not offer a café mocha. It sells something called a Caffe Mocha. One of the reasons I don’t patronize Starbucks is the pretentious names of its products. I watched the barista prepare the drink. (Only Starbucks has baristas. Every other coffee shop has servers.) She did it all wrong.
I ended up with a mess of soap suds. True, it tasted better than soap suds, but when I met up with Olga, she had a raging thirst. Hadn’t been allowed to drink anything for the past fourteen
hours. She tasted the suds and almost threw up. Myself, in the bush, I have drunk water from a standing pond covered with scum, so I was able to finish that concoction.
On the way home, we stopped at Timmys in Nipigon. I ordered my usual café mocha. I watch the server make it, and she did it right. She topped off the foamy crest with squirts of chocolate
syrup. That’s doing it right. And it cost me $2.43 for a medium mocha.
Starbucks had charged me $4.95 for a medium.
I will never patronize Starbucks again.
I will probably throw away another book some time soon. That says a lot about the kind of world we live in. And then I will reach for a café mocha again. And contribute another cup to the mountains of garbage we live on today.
Some habits are hard to break.