I stop at our Mobil station on the corner at least ten times a week. I know all of the staff. I feel like Norm from Cheers when I walk in, waving with my plastic cups in hand, getting my cheap refills of Diet Pepsi for me and the wife. Tonight was like almost every other night. I walked in the door like normal. I brought in a pair of plastic cups that had been rolling around the back seat of my car. As I washed them off in the bathroom sink, I was horrified to discover one of them didn’t belong.
I’d like to blame my state of mind on fatigue. I was just back from out of town. I had a long drive. Snow was involved. Traffic. But truthfully there was no excuse. There I was with two plastic cups: one from Kelley Williamson Mobil and one from (gasp!) Speedway. To the untrained eye, it was easy to see similarities. They were both the same shape and size. The plastic lids were compatible. Both held 44 ounces. Even the coloring was close. The Speedway “S” was almost the same shade of the Kelley Williamson signature blue.
I felt like a traitor. I felt shame; like I had been caught cheating on my wife. I thought I could feign ignorance. I filled up the cups, hoping the dark cola color would mask the “Speedway” printed across the side. I think it only served to highlight it. I casually walked up to the cashier and set the real Kelley Williamson cup on the counter while holding the impostor; as much of the logo covered by my gloved hand as possible. I took a sip; the taste of diet ashes filled my mouth.
“I have to confess,” I said as I was rung up, “I think I brought in the wrong cup.” She waved her hand and smiled.
“It’s not a big deal,” she said. “I’m sure you have plenty of our cups at home.” I relaxed and paid my dollar and a quarter. “Besides, it’s not the first time,” she added as I walked out the door. “You came in here with a Road Ranger cup last week.” Even if I hadn’t been distracted trying to snort the Diet Pepsi foam out of my sinuses, I don’t think I could have said anything in my defense.