The Art of The “Next Time”

I come to you today happy to report that I just got next time’d! Which is when you forget your wallet or don’t have enough money and a store or cafe employee tells you to pay them “next time.” I consider this a truly great honor and/or a sign that they do a shoddy job of keeping track of inventory. Do I have a very honest face — I was trying to buy a bottle of HONEST Tea, after all — or do they just not care about losing $2.00? The world may never know.

There are gradations of triumph in the “next time” and this one was particularly triumphant. Factors include how loyally you patronize the establishment in question, whether it’s the total amount or just a partial I.O.U., the degree of rapport you have with the cashier, their seniority at said establishment, how badly you want the item in question and how far away from your apartment / an ATM / your next paycheck you happen to be.

Today’s Next Time Eval:

How Loyal of a Customer Am I: Not very! I go in there maybe once every week to two weeks. So in this case, “next time” could be quite awhile from now. Bold move, bodega clerk.

How Much Do I Owe Next Time: Entire amount! $2.00.

Degree of Rapport: Not much, for me. Once this guy was really smiley and asking how I was and I was thinking Wow is this guy hitting on a woman who is eight months pregnant and wearing purple Crocs? But then he was like, “Do I know you from *somewhere inaudible* in Queens? I told him no and he cocked his head and said, “Are you suuuure?” in this way that made me start to think maybe I had a second life somewhere inaudible in Queens? Or I should relent and say yes just to satisfy him? But no.

Seniority at Establishment: No idea; don’t know why I added this to the list.

Desperation For Item in Question: WELL. It was an Honest Tea and it wasn’t even the sweetened kind. NOT EVEN A “TAD” SWEET. All the way unsweetened, because I guess I am some kind of ascetic now? Also I got an Aeropress for my birthday over the weekend so I had just had one of the best cups of coffee of my life, obviously. I just felt like I couldn’t go work at the library without some kind of caffeinated beverage on-hand to trick my brain into feeling productive. Enter: the $2.00 unsweetened Honest Tea.

How Far From Money I Was: I forgot my wallet in another bag. I went to grab it and my spirits dropped. I have exactly one hour to work today before I have to go home so that Dustin can get on a bus to Woodstock to retrieve my aforementioned friend’s car. Even though all of this is within a three-block radius of my house, there was no time to go home, get my wallet, go back, and walk to the library. I gave up immediately, shaking my head to the clerk. “Oh you know what,” I said, “Nevermind. I forgot my wallet. Sorry!”

I grabbed the tea and made for the cooler. This, I think, is key to the Next Time. You can’t ask for it. Asking for it ruins all the beauty of the Next Time. I said, “Next time!” he called after me. I turned around, taken aback. “Whaaaa?”

“Just get me next time. It’s fine. Take it. Next time!”

“Next time?” I said, somewhat incredulous.

“Next time!”

“Okay!!” I raised the Unsweetened Honest Tea in the air, as if in salute. “Next time!”

I got to the library, opened my laptop, opened my tea. It was horrible, guys. Horrible. Too honest for its own good. Today’s lessons in made-up things include: Never ask for a Next Time, never venture below A Tad Sweet.

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