As I prepared my backpack for my trip up to Toronto, I tucked a travel mug into the side of my backpack. I knew that, at the very least, I'd want a coffee in the airport and something on campus each morning. Why not maintain my current habit of toting a travel mug around with me?
The coffee place at the Big City Airport lulled me into a false sense of complacency. A woman three places ahead of me had her own mug, and the employees didn't pause at either of our requests. I enjoyed my hot latte through the first half of my long flight.
My first stop was at an airport fairly close to where I used to live, and so I knew that I'd be able to get a drink from a kiosk for my favorite coffee purveyor in the area. After a lunch spent poring over more notes (I was still studying for my exam), I headed over there. As is my custom, I took the top off the mug and placed the mug on the counter, ordering the drink of my choice. The man behind the register relayed this to the barista. Leaving my mug on the counter. I looked at it and then at him. He didn't notice. "Could I get it in here?" I asked, pointing into the mug. A look of surprise crossed his face, but he managed to figure out to pick up the mug and pass it over to the barista.
OK, a little odd, but at least my coffee was where I wanted it.
Once I was on the ground, the use of my travel mug returned to the usual pattern. I stopped by a couple different places around campus and had no trouble using it, two or three times a day when I was on campus for the exam or a full day of research. I rinsed it out between uses and gave it a decent wash each night.
Heck, even when I stopped at a Tim Horton's on the way back to Buffalo, they didn't look twice and gave me a mug discount.
The return trip, however, tested me. Once past security in Buffalo, I stopped at a coffee place for my morning latte and a banana. As I ordered and handed the mug over, the employee informed me that the mug might not fit under their machine so they'd need to use a paper cup. She was a bit taken aback when I responded, "Never mind then." Funny thing, they figured out that they could hold the mug underneath while the espresso brewed. So at least I got my morning fix.
I thought that would be the oddest moment, but my stopover proved me wrong. By that time, I wanted a mint tea. I had rinsed out my mug and headed over to one of the places with hot tea. I found a mint tea bag and told the employee that I wanted the hot water in my mug. She responded, "I can't take your mug over the counter." That was a new one, so I gave my standard, "Never mind." "Oh, I can just put the water in a cup and you can use that." "No, it's OK," I said, as I put the tea away and prepared to head for the next place. "It's not a problem at all," she said, "we can just throw the cup away then." "No, that is the problem. I don't want to just throw a cup away. It's an environmental thing." She didn't know what to say about that, and I really wanted to find some hot water I'd be able to get directly into my mug, so I headed off.
I did eventually get some hot tea. In my travel mug. Though that was not an entirely smooth transaction either.
This experience made me feel a bit like I did a few years ago when nobody had a mug discount. Lots of odd looks and explaining and some dead ends.
(P.S. Only tangentially related, I found out that I passed my exam!)