Monday, March 15, 2004

The Price of a Freebie

My thumbs are sore. Now, that wouldn't be too shocking if I was some cross-eyed, ambidextrous carpenter with masochistic tendencies (don't laugh, I'm pretty sure I saw it on Jerry Springer), but I'm not. Nor am I one of the millions of PlayStation, Nintendo, and XBox junkies who feverishly rub, slide, and grind their opposable digits across ergonomic but unforgiving gamepads day and night. No, I'm just a simple Canadian boy who, if you haven't heard by now, has a thing for coffee. And, thanks to that, my thumbs are sore.

For those of you who are Canadian, you may already see where I am going with this. You may even share my pain... For those of you who aren't from The Great White North, or those of you who, in an attempt to keep those old stereotypes alive, have been living in an igloo, let me start at the beginning and introduce you to a little place called Tim Horton's.

Just as our friends to the south in the good ol' US of A have Starbuck's (you know, that little coffee shop that you can find on every corner in every town?), we have Tim Horton's. Of course, you won't find "tall", "grande", or "venti" on the menu... I'm afraid you'll have to settled for small, medium, large, or (my favorite) extra large. Oh, and we're talking about coffee here, not espresso, latte, or even soy latte. Don't bother looking for the biscotti either... but feel free to try the Honey Crullers, they're awesome!

Okay, so it's not a trendy sidewalk cafe... It's a donut shop. But it means the same to every citizen of the True North, Strong and Free as Starbuck's means to Seattlites. It defines our country as much as the Loonie, Hockey Night in Canada, and beer. Mike Myers even paid a little tribute to this fine institution in Wayne's World... Remember Stan Mikita's, the donut shop where Garth saw his dream girl for the first time (Foxy Lady)? Well, just like Tim Horton, Stan Mikita was an NHLer from yester-year. Clever, eh? Anyway, Tim Horton's is the one place that you can count on finding a great cup of coffee no matter where you go in this massive country of ours.

So, anyways, about my poor thumbs... Tim's runs a contest once or twice a year that they call Roll Up the Rim to Win in which, as the name would suggest, you unroll the rim at the top of their paper coffee cups to (hopefully) reveal a prize. It could be a free coffee... It could be a free donut... And if you're one of the luckier people, it could be a 37" Plasma TV or an SUV! So, here I am, already heavily addicted to the drink, and now I have this carrot dangling before my eyes! Of course, when Roll Up the Rim time hits, I'm a rolling freak... I'm slugging back cup after cup (which probably isn't all that different from my normal coffee drinking habits, but it works for the story so lets go with it), I'm rolling up the rims, and I'm... well... actually, that's about all I'm doing because I can't win a thing! It's bad enough that, for the first week or so of the contest, I am constantly digging in the garbage for the cup I threw away an hour ago because I forgot to check the rim. Then, to not even get a reward for my efforts, well, it's maddening! It says right on the cup that the odds of winning a food prize (the most abundant of the prizes) are approximately 1 in 9, but I'm still batting zero! What gives?!? Instead, I get to read those 3 little words that I have come to loath even though I obey them like Pavlov's dog: Please Play Again.

Ding! I'm back in line at Tim Horton's, ordering my extra large black coffee to go, double-cupped once again. I have to get it double-cupped because Tim's keeps their coffee at a temperature equivalent to the surface of the sun, but they don't offer those fancy cardboard jackets to protect your already battered fingers... Of course, the second cup isn't one of the contest cups because that wouldn't be fair to the guy behind me in line. Speaking of which, look who just won a Mountain Bike... No good son of a...
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