There’s an epidemic in Canadian cities, according to a Toronto City Council member. Should we be worried? Here’s the story: An elected official railed about an epidemic of young people walking heedlessly through the streets holding cups of hot coffee. It was dangerous! There should be laws!
The local columnists called him an archaic old dolt, and that was that.
But what if he’s right?
OK, it’s not an epidemic. That word should be reserved for things like the plague. No one bumps into someone carrying a coffee container, then later feels a little feverish, only to wake up in the middle of the night sweating, with a cup of coffee in their hand.
But some people do march around carrying their coffee because they believe it gives them the appearance of urgency and heightened social status. “Yes! I am quite indispensable, so I must remain alert at all times. Plus, I have sufficient disposable income to pay $5 for this cup of burnt water.”
I got to wondering: Maybe walking along with a cup of coffee would make me feel important and vital to the continuation of the economy. So I got a small coffee in a cup — and I do mean small: It was a shot of espresso. In its own wee, adorable cup. Because I’m a short guy, I figured it would look like a regular cup for normal-sized folk. When I have a big coffee cup, it looks like I’m carrying the Stanley Cup.
Besides, a cup of espresso might make me look even more important: I do not have time to drink 24 ounces of hot fluid flavored with candy sauce and the milk of soy! One tiny cup, two quick sips, and I’m done, ready to sit at my desk and respond to e-mails in a timely fashion.
I did get a few furtive looks: “Is that the new thing? Small coffee? My coffee looks huge now. This is embarrassing.” I gave some people a little pitying smile as I passed.
I also noticed an inordinate number of people with water bottles, as if they’re so parched after walking two blocks that their kidneys seize up and their tongues feel like a rusty rasp in a toolbox. Carrying around water is like packing pretzels for an hourlong airplane trip.
The more you see people talking on their phones and holding coffee as they walk, the more you wonder what these people would do if transported back to 1941. You can imagine them carrying an old heavy phone with cords in one hand, balancing a cup and saucer in the other, striding along, yelling into the receiver while everyone stares at the lunatic.
Related: A New York legislator has proposed banning texting while walking, because it’s dangerous. Really. I guess New York City is full of people with third-degree burns who bumped into someone with a hot cup of coffee.
We should consider legislation so we match the big cities’ conspicuous idiocy. In a year, you might be walking through the skyway, dictating a text, holding a thimble-sized cup of coffee (the espresso-sized containers were so 2019), and a cop on a Segway will pull alongside.
“Do you know why I pulled you over?”
“Because life is absurd, and an ever increasing web of laws criminalizes ordinary behavior, leading to the arbitrary application of authority?”
“Yes. Also, the license tabs on the heels of your shoes are expired.”