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The last month of Tim Hortons cups, with their indecent stench of futile hope and misplaced optimism, have been painful for me. Every afternoon, my daily coffee has promised potential riches - A new car! Gift cards! Money! Free coffee! A muffin! - before pulling them away from me, the carpet of possibility yanked away by the greedy hands of painful reality.
They don’t come out and say it outright, though. There is no ‘lose,’ or ‘lost,’ or ‘loser.’ Not even a “you haven’t won this time.” No, everything is insinuated. “Please play again,” it sneers, a contemptuous smile on the underside of my beverage container. My failure is inferred from the logical deduction of “if it’s not telling me what I won, then I must have…lost.”
"Please play again," they say in both English and French, lest my awareness of perpetual defeat be hampered by the vagaries of language.
"Please play again, you loser, you who can’t even claim a free donut, let alone a car, who probably can’t even drive, what with your inability to procure a caffeinated beverage without somehow becoming crushed in defeat by a cardboard vessel.
"Reessayez, S.V.P., you worthless sack of loss. Go on, reessayez and lose again. Go on, I dare you! Reessayez!"
Well, today my Tim Hortons store had run out of Roll Up cups. The familiar branded cup, with its charlatan’s promises had been replaced by the old familiar logo and brown background. My cup promised nothing except the leak-free safe storage of coffee before I maneuvred it to my lips.
But still, even when my drink was finished, I removed the lid and rolled up the rim. I rolled up the entire circumference of the rim. There were no messages. There was no imploring me to play again. Promised nothing, I had been given nothing.
And once again, my soul was at rest. My coffee cup was indifferent to me. It no longer judged me, a capsule of faded dreams that hated me for its own existence. It didn’t care. And I was free to not care too.
So it will go. I will continue to roll up my coffee cup rims, and I will breathe a sigh of relief, because I have not been betrayed by hope, I am not viewed with contempt by a harlot who promises everything and gives nothing, I am not a loser. And I will do this every day, until the next Roll Up the Rim promotion begins, at which point I will stop, because then the mockery will begin anew.
Or not, I guess. I might have won a car.
At lunchtime, my phone rings. I recognise the number as my dentist’s office. To my surprise, when I answer, I hear my dentist himself, rather than one of the office staff who usually calls me.
"Hi Phil," he says, "it’s Dr Freeman. How are you?"
"Fine," I reply. "And you?"
"No, I mean, really," - his voice italicises - "how ARE you? How are your gums? After yesterday?"
"Not too bad," I answer. "A bit sore, but I’m chewing on the other side of my mouth and it’s not too bad."
Dr Freeman pauses. “Oh. Okay. Good.” He sounds a little surprised.
"So doc," I say after a second passes, "you really messed me up in there yesterday, didn’t you?"
A long pause.
"Yes," he eventually replies, "yes, I did."
No idea why Audrey’s latest catchphrase is “Baaaabe, coffee please!” or where she heard it from, but it still raises a smile every time.
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