In the morning, an argument bubbles up in the station newsagent.

Me: Approaching the counter with a bottle of water) Just this, please.

Newsagent: (Holds up a newspaper) The waters free if you buy this newspaper today, you know.

Me: I dont read that newspaper.

Newsagent: Yes, but the waters free if you buy it.

Me: I dont want to buy it. I dont read that paper.

Newsagent: But the water on its own is £1.40. The papers only 70p. So the waters half the price, and you get a free newspaper.

Me: Yes, but if I buy it to get the water, I add to the circulation figures of that newspaper – which I dont like (so dont read) and I dont want to do that. Can I have a Guardian instead?

Newsagent: What?

Me: Well, a Guardian is the same price as that paper youre trying to give me free with my water, so can I have a Guardian instead, and you can keep that one?

Newsagent: No. Its not free with a Guardian. Its free with THIS paper.

Me: I dont read that paper.

Newsagent: Just the water then, is it?

Me: All right, how about this: I give you one pound forty, which is the price of the water – which I was willing to spend anyway – , but also coincidentally the price of the Guardian and the paper youre trying to thrust upon me combined. I get the water free with that paper, but I dont take that paper, I just take the water and this Guardian, which Ive then also paid for. You keep THAT paper behind the counter, and the next time someone wants to buy a copy of that paper, you give it to them free, as a present from me, but not their complimentary bottle of water, because Ive already taken that. That way I dont add to their circulation figures, because that person was going to buy one anyway, and I get my water, and my Guardian. Can we do that?

Newsagent: Um.


[Of course, annoyingly, that conversation never happens, although I desperately want to have it – and am given opportunity to – at least once a week, or whenever I forget to bring one of my refilled bottles from home. It makes PERFECT sense. But I am not brave.

So the conversation actually goes like this:

Me: Just that, please.
Newsagent: Its free with this right-wing rag today.
Me: No thank you. I dont read that paper.
Newsagent: Oh. Thats £1.40 then please.
Me: *sigh*.

One day though. One day.]