The cost of the vegan Bánh mì and curry couscous are my responsibility, but my beverage is on the house.

“Thanks! I think you gave me a free drink last time. Very cool.”

“You’re a regular,” says the cashier. “We do this instead of a rewards program.”

“Really? That’s like a policy?”

“Well, it’s my policy,” he says. “Corporate has no idea what’s going on. But here’s the thing: you keep coming back.”

I can’t argue, and why would I? I’m getting free beverages here, man.

“Can I ask you something?” the cashier says.

“Sure. Fire away.”

“Well, you look like a nerd with a kind heart.”

“I like to think that’s mostly true.”

“Can you promise that if you’re going to see Ghost in the Shell, you’ll show some respect and at least watch the original anime first? I mean, the movie will just piss you off, because it’s totally disloyal, and I’m not even talking about casting Scarlett Johansson – I mean that’s messed up – but the whole movie is just like an insult to everything that’s great about the original anime. I could do like an hour on how bad it is.”

“Maybe you should start a vlog.”

“Seriously, you can’t let the movie be your idea of what Ghost in the Shell is supposed to be, because it’s just not that. It’s just not. Like it would be if we gave you a salad and called it a sandwich, and you believed us for some reason, and for the rest of your life you thought sandwiches were lettuce and stuff.”


It’s at this moment that the cashier notices the line forming behind me. He wraps up the transaction without another word about Ghost in the Shell. Maybe it’s the free drink, or perhaps a yearning to live up to someone else’s idea of a kind nerd, but I feel I owe this man something.

A promise is what he wants, but were I to give such a promise it would be hallow; I have no interest in either the movie or its source material. So I offer the next best thing: an endorsement.

“Fellas,” I say to the customers behind me. “Sorry about the wait. This man has some very strong opinions about Ghost in the Shell, and I think you should hear him out.”

“That movie is the shit,” one of the guys says.

The cashier says nothing. With a sheepish farewell, I take my free drink and head for the fountain, leaving behind two fellow patrons who will never qualify for the loyalty program.

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