19 November 2008

For the love of beans!

For many years, I have put the same two items on my parent-requested Christmas gift list: leather gloves and a coffee grinder. If Miguel and Mama Crow request a list this year, I know it will be two items long and look a lot like last year's list.

I have you know that my cat is going to provide them with a seemingly greedier three item list. Were I to cast bets on this sort of thing, I would say that Buster will most assuredly receive the kitty fishing pole, laser pointer, and the obnoxious plastic ring of fun that he is requesting from either my parents or from that jolly old elf, Santa Claus. This is because I know that Miguel likes to spoil my nephew rotten and provides his own "damn cat" Charley with an allowance for treats. No joke. I owe that cat $12 or a package of Liv-a-Littles.

In any case, I'm never terribly disappointed about receiving something other than the items on my list. Except last year when I went to the trouble of providing the exact name, list price, color and retailer of the precise glove pairing and coffee grinder I wanted, while also providing feasible and acceptable alternatives in the price points below and above my preferred choice.

Honestly, were I not a self-proclaimed Broke Ass Ho, I would have bought these items for myself. Okay. I would have bought the grinder because I'm superstitious about losing the gloves I buy for myself within a week of purchase. But I am a Broke Ass Ho, hence my recent propensity for borrowing other people's shit. Thanks for all the books and movies, friends!

So, yesterday I decided to buy myself a pound of coffee. I was finally out of beans and I'd had a day filled with back spasms, two accidentally de-potted houseplants, and a tiff with my psychiatrist. This-- coupled with the fact that I'd been drinking awful to barely palatable coffee since last February-- meant that I decided that this Broke Ass Ho was going to spring for the splurge-tastic Stumptown coffee beans. It's locally roast, directly traded, and tastes like liquid magic every time.

What does one do when the very recently re-potted plant is again splayed across on the rug of your living space? One makes coffee with their new beans! Right?

Not so fast.

Here's where the problem begins. I forgot to have my beans ground. I was too busy trying to use my extensive theatre training to observe the appropriate level of flirtation in the exchange between myself and the espresso slinger that rang me up. I've applied to some seasonal jobs in retail, and I am convinced that a certain level of sugar is necessary in all retail transactions. Being that outward display of such flirty sweetness does not come naturally to me, I need to prepare for the role in the improbable case that I am actually cast.

So, how does one get coffee without ground beans and without a coffee grinder? There are two ways. One not so effective, but perfectly kosher. The other less legal route requires a little more strategy. I will share both methods here.

The first way to grind your beans is to take out your blender, rolling pin and tenderizing hammer to bash up your beans. This is both messy and ineffective. Plus, getting shards of beans in the eye is no picnic. I have not attempted this means of grinding beans since I first took note to avoid it about 2 years ago.

The second method is simple, but borderline legal. Essentially, it requires using a service without the purchase of any goods. It's not as shady as shoplifting, because your beans are bought and paid for, but the grinder you use has not been provided for your specific beans.

The first step to this process is dressing the part. The idea is to blend in with the crowd of shoppers. I suggest going for a business casual look as it provides enough comfort while also maintaining the practical edge of looking like you are there for legitimate business practices. Bonus points if this outfit can reveal just enough of one of your best assets to distract fellow shoppers and supermarket employees from what you are doing. I like to wear a skirt because I have nice ankles and shapely calves. When costuming oneself, it is important to bring a purse or some sort of bag in which to stash your beans.

Devise an exit strategy in case one is caught by any store employees. My current plan involves turning on the tears and intermittently blurting out the words "forgot", "prescription" and "psychiatrist" in some order between sobs.

Enter the store and pick up a basket. Head over to the produce department and select an orange or any other easily attainable piece of produce. Put this fruit and your handbag into the shopping basket. While you are walking over to the coffee aisle, remove the beans from your bag.

When you locate the coffee grinder, set down the basket. Locate the paintbrush that the Courtesy Clerk must use to clean out the coffee grinders in the store's closing rituals. It will most likely be located alongside the machine or up high on the coffee display. It may or may not have a chain depending on how many paintbrushes have wandered off in this store's location. Flip the cover on the grinder's chute a couple times and brush off any grinds debris. This step may seem unnecessary, but it is a pivotal part in establishing that you look like you belong there at the coffee grinder to any passersby.

Bend down, pick up your coffee, and grind as instructed. When coffee is ground and the bag or bin is resealed, drop coffee into open purse (still located inside basket).

Walk away from the grinder and over to the artisan cheese display. Pick up some Gruyere, cock head as if to say, "Am I forgetting something? Did I leave the oven on?" Remove purse from the basket and walk back to the produce department. Ditch your decoy fruit. Put the shopping basket back in the pile of baskets. Exit the store at a medium pace, enjoying the aroma of freshly ground beans.

Ah yes, and to cap it all off thank your liberal arts education for providing you with the appropriate tools to work the system while still producing the appearance of ethical standards. Woo! A cup of that quasi-illegally ground coffee tastes extra delicious while pondering the profundity of your deviance. Make a second cup and write about it on your blog.


Mead said...

O, Krow. Give me a call. We'll arrange a coffee date. We'll sit at my kitchen table and have actual coffee, just like in Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. (You're too young to recognize the title, but it's a get this reference since it's from the 70s, but on that show, coffee was the answer to everything.) And I'll grind your beans for you While U W8.

It's the least I can do after those outrageously delectable Christmas cookies you dropped off in the dead of night this week!

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