How Do You Say No?

Most mornings, on my way to a Starbucks that opens at 5, I pass a man who has a coffee cart.  images-1

They’re little, unsavory wagons selling donuts, hard rolls (and I mean hard) and the worst coffee on the planet.

Their only redeeming feature is the low cost…no overhead to speak of, so they can get away with charging .80 for a cup of muddy, murky, tinted water posing as coffee. A firm believer in, you get what you pay for including dysentery, I don’t EVER buy from the cart.

But here’s my problem.

In the morning there’s no one around but me and the cartman, saying hello to each other…good morning, how are you.

I notice his business isn’t exactly thriving my guess being, his coffee is even worse than the other cart guy’s two blocks up. I can just tell by looking at him. He smokes, never wears gloves when you’re supposed to. His shirt has stains all over it to the point it looks tie-dyed. Then you have Starbucks, Tag Bagels and a Dunkin Donuts in his general vicinity so competition is fierce. To be honest, coffee in a passing thermos would give him a run for his .80.

Last Wednesday, when I was coming back from Starbucks he stops me.

“Hullo, you are having a nice morning so far?” It was only 6:05 so it wasn’t much of a morning yet, but answered yes, just the same.

“I want you to taste my coffee…the best coffee in town.”

“Oh, I just had two cups, that’s my limit,” I said, figuring that was that.

“Tomorrow you come try.”

“You know sir…”

“No sir, I’m Mohammed.”

“You see Mohammed…”

“Mo, my friends call me Mo.”

“Mo…I never have cash which is why I go to Starbucks. They take Visa.”

“So you open a charge…pay Fridays. I trust you.” Omigod…how am I going to get out of this without hurting his feelings. One, I cannot even think of drinking his coffee without gagging…and opening a charge? Explain that to Sam my accountant.

I thank him and say I’ll see him soon, but now I can’t go to that Starbucks anymore if I don’t want to run into him.

For three days I’ve waited for the later one to open, not something I want to do.

I like to go at 5, be out by 5;50…a quick stop to see Rosie the cat before heading home to run. The extra half hour is costing me, plus this particular Starbucks is so cold you could hang meat in the entrance way.

So today I walked all the way around via Third Avenue so I didn’t have to see him, and feel terrible about it.

12 Step says, no is a complete sentence, but I can’t help feeling sad no one buys his coffee. Occasionally a cabbie will stop because he serves them like a carhop, right at their window, but guaranteed, that driver ain’t stoppin again.

I know it’s silly to care about a man with such a dirty shirt, but I can’t help it.

Maybe I need to go purchase a donut or hard roll I could always use as a paperweight, just to clear the air.

I’ll lie and tell him I’ve given up coffee hoping my nose, as I fib, doesn’t get any bigger.

Don’t you wish everything got bigger when you lied?

An afterthought.

Perils of a Thingirl.    images



About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
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20 Responses to How Do You Say No?

  1. skinnyuz2b says:

    Honesty is not always the best policy, Susannah. You’re right not to want to hurt his feelings. But this guy has a comeback for every NO you give him. Sometimes little lies are necessary. Maybe tell him your niece or nephew works at that Starbucks. Oooh, the tangled webs we weave when at first we do deceive.


    • I wish I didn’t care but he clearly is hurting. He needs to clean up his act as well as his cart. Maybe I should offer to give him a make-over…lol…then I may get bad coffee for life…better rethink that one Skinny 🙂


  2. micklively says:

    I’m impressed with your compassion, if not your logic. You can’t solve the problems of the world, Susannah. You don’t have the time, the energy, and certainly not the budget. Mo’s cart is a commercial enterprise, not a charity.
    A charming tale, nevertheless.


  3. katecrimmins says:

    No one buys his coffee because it’s bad. There are consequences. You need not feel guilty or even compassionate although I know that’s hard for you. He may do more business later in the day and if he doesn’t, it isn’t your problem. You can always tell him that you don’t buy from carts because of sanitary issues but you’ll be glad to refer people to him. Or not.


  4. Patricia says:

    We have a few cart vendors here. They seem clean enough but I have never bought anything from then. Like today it was almost 100*. How do they keep stuff that needs to be chilled…well, chilled? And how do they keep themselves clean…where do they wash their hands?
    Maybe you need to just say no thank you and keep walking. I guess I am saying be a little less than nice but not quite rude….eventually he should get the message…or not.


    • It’s not a sanitary operation, to use Kate’s word, and yes, where does he wash his hands. My friend Ed, acquainted with cart coffee, e-mailed the trip around the block is worth it. Made me laugh.

      Now Teddy would never drink milk from the cart, now would he 🙂


  5. Elle Knowles says:

    You’re just too nice and compassionate. But I do see where you are coming from. Good thing I don’t drink coffee! One of the best hamburgers I have ever eaten has been from a little ‘hole in the road’ flytrap! Lol! I have to tune the surroundings out while I eat!


  6. your kindness always speaks loudest in your words. A hard roll and bird feed while you run.


  7. I was sweating just reading your conversation with Mo. I was already thinking “she now has to take another route or she’ll have to take him back to her place for a makeover.” I feel bad for Mo..ugh.


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