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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Light and Dark (05/21/09)

TITLE: Free Isn't Always Better
By Betty Castleberry


Dear Management of Global Coffees, Inc.,

I don’t mean to seem ungrateful and complain about a free offer, but my recent experiences with your company have left me no choice.

Intrigued by your internet ad, I printed out a coupon for a free cup of coffee at any of your Grounds and Sounds franchises. “Wilma”, I told myself. “You’re a frugal coffee lover. You’ve hit the jackpot.”

Coupon in hand, I visited my local Grounds and Sounds. The music is not my style, but because the coffee is so good, I decided to suffer through the pounding bass.

The rich aroma of quality coffee lured me to the counter where a kid young enough to be my grandson stood. I’ve got nothing against kids, but this young man was more interested in the cute little server in the mini skirt than he was in helping customers. His name tag identified him as Barry. While he flirted, I drummed my fingers on the counter. Finally, I half-shouted, “Excuse me, Barry. You have a customer.” He managed to tear himself away from Miss Legs long enough to acknowledge me.

That’s when the fun began. He glanced at my coupon. “This is for light roast. We’re out. We only have dark roast left.”

I stared. “This is a coffee house. What do you mean you’re out?”

“Sorry. The truck won’t be in until tomorrow morning.” Naturally, my coupon expired that day.

Biting my tongue, I remembered I was a Christian. “All right, thank you.” I left.

Not long after, while browsing the internet, I found another coupon for a free cup of coffee at Grounds and Sounds. Not one to hold a grudge, I printed it.

My second visit to the coffee shop was trying, to say the least. Barry was behind the
counter again. I approached him with a smile. “I have a coupon for light roast.”

He looked smug. “You can only redeem dark roast coupons today. Sorry.”

I mustered up my courage. “Can’t you substitute the dark roast for light?”

“It’s against company policy.”

“Fine.” I threw my hands up, leaving my about-to-expire coupon with Barry.

The next day while I was web surfing, a pop-up offered me another coupon for a free cup of coffee. I tried to ignore it, but it kept taunting me until I gave in. I hit ‘print.’ Nothing happened. Hitting ‘print’ again, another box popped up telling me I had already printed my number of allowable coupons for the day. Excuse me? I hadn’t printed any. I tried to click the box off my screen, but it wouldn’t go away. Instead, a dialogue box appeared stating, “Wait! You haven’t printed your coupon yet.” That box decided to hang around, too.

I could do nothing but laugh and reboot my computer. When I accessed the internet again, there was that coupon offer. There’s only so much ignoring a coffee fiend like me could do with the temptation of free coffee staring me in the face. The printed coupon’s colors looked peculiar and washed out. My color cartridge was running out of ink.

Being a brave soul, I took the coupon to Grounds and Sounds. I asked Barry, “Is it dark roast coupon day?”

He smiled. “Yes, Ma’am.”

I did a little victory dance and gave him my dark roast coupon. He studied it for a minute. “Is this legit, because it looks funny. We don’t take copies of coupons.”

“Yes, it’s legit. I need a new print cartridge.” I clenched my teeth waiting for his response.

Shaking his head, he handed the coupon back. “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to get in trouble. I can’t accept this.”

My calmness surprised even me. “I appreciate your help.” My faded coupon and I left.

After I returned home, I sat down at my keyboard to compose this letter. From now on, I will purchase my coffee - from the grocery store. I’ll get my choice of light or dark roast, decaf or regular, any day of the week, and any time of day I choose, no coupon necessary.


Wilma Jones, former Grounds and Sounds customer.

p.s. Enclosed is a statement for reimbursement of the following:

1. Gasoline used to drive to Grounds and Sounds on three separate occasions.

2. A cup of Grounds and Sounds coffee, my choice of light or dark roast.

3. A color ink cartridge for my printer. This one’s debatable, but I think you owe me on principle.

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This article has been read 1035 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 05/28/09
Interesting take on the theme. As a coffee lover myself, I sympathize. Great story.
Laury Hubrich 05/29/09
How funny and frustrating and funny;) Mainly funny because it wasn't me;) Thank you for making me laugh today - needed it.
Jan Ackerson 06/03/09
So many entries this week were dark, dark, dark--thanks so much for this delightful, hilarious story! I love your voice, and would buy a collection of your stories in a heartbeat.
Bryan Ridenour06/03/09
Great humor in this story. Loved it all the way to the end. I hope she gets her print cartridge! Well done!
Patricia Herchenroether06/03/09
So much chocolate discussed on FW, I never even thought about coffee for the dark and light topic. I love your humerous story and great dialogue.
Carol Slider 06/03/09
Oh, this is SOOO hilarious... and unfortunately, too reminiscent of some of my own experiences with customer service! I LOVE your sense of humor!!
Colin Swann06/03/09
A great humorous story - a bit like we've all suffered to some degree. Thanks so much - really enjoyable!

Sara Harricharan 06/03/09
Oooh. I want to SHAKE that Barry person. lol. This was a great laugh, but I must say I was thoroughly frustrated for the MC at the end of the story. They'd better cover all her expensese-ROFL-print cartridge included! What a fun read! ^_^
Lollie Hofer06/03/09
Thank you, thank you, thank you for the lightness in your story and for my tickling my funnybone. What a refreshing take on the theme for this week. I thoroughly enjoy your sense of humor.
Mona Purvis06/03/09
I just loved this piece. You were able to get the reader (at least this reader) to nod and agree and know EXACTLY what you're talking about. It's always a good thing when the reader connects with the story.
Catrina Bradley 06/03/09
Love your MC's persistence. Thanks for this laugh today. :)
Chely Roach06/03/09
Fantabulous! This was a hoot to read...loved it!
Rachel Rudd 06/04/09
ROFL! This is GREAT! Thank you so much for the laugh and congratulations on placing!
Janice Fitzpatrick06/04/09
This was so delightful and addicting, like coffee.:0) You have to write more of these fun pieces-Loved it!! Congratulations on your win too!Great job! Now please pour me a cup of Joe while I cna reread this again-just make sure Barry is fired first.:0)
Loren T. Lowery06/04/09
So deserving of the EC, if not just for the writing, but for the laughter it put in my heart today as well! Congratulations!
Karlene Jacobsen06/04/09
I thought about Starbucks the whole time. I think I'm in withdrawal, LOVE that place. I'll have to read this to my husband when he's available. Absolutely hilarious, frustrating and too true so often of some of those places. hehehehe
Myrna Noyes06/04/09
CONGRATULATIONS!! I had a great time reading this!! What a creative, fun story by a very talented writer!! :) This piece would go be a big hit here in the Coffee Shop Capital of the World (Seattle area)!! :)

Mariane Holbrook 06/04/09
Betty, this is so YOU! If I hadn't read your name I'd still have known it was written by you. What a hoot! The funny thing is, I could actually SEE you in my mind's eye DOING those things! You're such a tonic for all of us. What great humor and insight. I love you to pieces!
Linda Watson Owen06/04/09
Hahaha! It's soooo true! The cream really does rise to the top! And this is it, Betty Dee! So funny and so typical of life's little frustrations in the marketplace. heehee... You are a master for sure at these wonderfully funny 'perky' vignettes! Congratulations, friend!!
Charla Diehl 06/04/09
No need to ask why this one placed in the EC ranks. I applaud the MC for her patience with Barry. Remember when the customer was always right?!
Great lighthearted story that was fun to read.
Judy Meyers06/05/09
I would love to read more of your writings. I loved this piece. Some articles are so filled with adjectives that I get lost. I followed you from place to place, emotion to emotion.
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/05/09
Congratulations on placing...and I loved it. Your humor is incomparable.
Carole Robishaw 07/15/11
Somehow I missed this the first time around. LOVE IT!!!