Every spring, Canadians go through the same ritual: it starts in February on the West Coast, and ends sometime in June in the far North. We remove clothing-layers and breathe easier. We remove boots and step lighter. We enjoy the nimbleness of unlocking the car without mittens. And in the midst of all this, Tim Hortons provides us our annual flirtation with gambling.
Some don’t call it gambling. They rightly point out that Canadians will buy their double-doubles whether there’s a rim to roll or not. But speaking for myself, spring is the only time that I experience all the agony of a gambler.
Stittsville is the Ottawa suburb that is as far west of Ottawa as my suburb is east. The year that my son had a weekly three-hour science-and-history class there, I got to know Stittsville’s cozy library. I hung out there, poking at my laptop until I got bored, and then I would go to Tim Hortons for my steeped tea. When it was time to pick up my son from class, the cup went in the garbage. The arrival of spring-and-rim season didn’t change that habit. I wouldn’t even think about the fated cup until I was hurtling down the highway toward my far eastern suburb.
They say that gamblers go through a lot of what-ifs: what if I leave this slot machine and the next person wins? What if my lucky number wins the one time I don’t use it? What if there really was a car in that Tim Horton cup I forgetfully threw away in Stittsville? What if there was another one in the cup I discarded the following week?
Along with such gambler’s agony comes the power to resist. I’m proud to say that I did not drive back across town to raid the Stittsville Tim Hortons garbage can. I’ve managed to hang onto enough cups over the years to give me plenty of free coffee and cookies. I’ll be content with that.