*** Due to technical difficulties with the account, this posting is actually being contributed by Erin Thibodeau, 100764212***
It all started with a condom in the tip jar.
An otherwise dull night in the coffee shop, I was nursing a headache caused by a cold and was in a foul mood. My coworkers were sympathetic and small bursts of laughter and tomfoolery helped to ease the pounding in my head and the tension in my attitude. But the shift itself had been routine, exchange money, make latte, grind coffee… It was repetitive work that anyone would find desperately dull, with the lack of interesting night shift patrons making it doubly nauseating to throw on a smile and pretend to be entertained.
Then, amidst a quiet hour, during a retuned and reworked Bob Dylan cover, a woman walked in. Barely through the second set of doors into the cafe she was already talking loudly, debating with herself what she would like and rooting through her shoulder bag.
“I don’t have change but I want to leave you a tip!”
While I had been livened awake, I was still unconvinced that the night would get better. More annoyed than intrigued by her exuberance I responded lamely, “It’s okay.”
“No no no no no. I want to leave something…” Still fishing around in her bag, “Okay, here you go.”
I watched her deposit twenty-five cents into the tip jar. Followed by a small green button reading “fight homophobia” and a hot pink Durex condom.
A hot pink Durex condom.
I looked up at the woman. “It’s a pretty pink colour” she said smiling, as if in response to the questioning look in my eyes.
I started laughing. And couldn’t stop.
She wanted us to keep it in the tip jar for the following morning so all the corporate drones we served could have a little shock with their morning cup of joe. We apologized we couldn’t do this but promised we would drop it in the day’s tip bag for one of our coworkers to stumble upon later in the week.
The customer left to waves and cheerfully goodbyes, having made the night. Little did we know this was the gift that would keep on giving.
Soon after she left a young man walked in.
“Yah, I’d like a grande….” He had begun with purpose, in an almost rushed tone. But the shiny pink wrapper sitting confidently on top of the coins in the white mug caught his attention. Like a magpie to jewels he was momentarily blinded by this bubble gum pink plastic wrapped treasure.
“Grande…?” I prompted him.
“Grande latte!” He nearly shouted in my face. Snapping back to reality far too quickly for it to go unnoticed.
He left and we had a good laugh at his expense. Perhaps condoms are just one of those things that, taken out of context, could momentarily blind you. We debated what to do with this socially taboo bomb that had been dropped into our hands. Leave in in the jar? Probably innappropriate. Garbage? Such a waste. So we dropped it with the rest of the change into the sealed bag and anxiously traded funny scenarios about what would happen when our coworker found it.
The condom had opened way to a dirty dialogue that my coworkers and I had not yet broached. All of a sudden it was okay to trade stories of our sexual deviancies. I learned more about my coworkers in one night than I had in four months.
A week later Tip Guy was counting and distributing the tips, I was lucky enough to be working. Walking into the back room he held up the bright pink wrapper, “Hey, check what I found in one of the tip bags!” I laughed and told him the story. We left it in the back room for the rest of our coworkers to find and to nervously giggle at and to exchange stories over.
That silly pink condom. Still giving. Not yet getting.