Or Penny-Pinching Practice and Pastry Perks
A play in one act
By Courtney Foster-Donahue
Courtney: Protagonist, mid 20’s, redhead, cunning, clever, capitalizes on the bored vulnerability of Dunkin Donuts cashiers by employing her slight Southern accent. Note: Actress only uses accent out of necessity, i.e., the acquisition of free food. Otherwise, she has virtually no dialect. Also possesses acumen for alliteration, but employs this skill only when typing.
Josh: Slightly goofy sidekick and husband to Courtney, mid-20’s, strangely tall, dashing, has a newly found fondness for his Fedora hat. Quite adept at letting Courtney take the lead in all thrifty endeavors, especially those involving free food, particularly sweets.
Armand: Dunkin Donuts cashier, early 20’s, of nebulous ethnicity. Easily susceptible to the Southern wiles of Courtney; worlds like “y’all” are a particular weakness.
September 2011, late evening. New York City, “the City that Never Sleeps,” in a quiet Brooklyn neighborhood that goes to bed at around 8:57 p.m. EST.
Lights come up on a Brooklyn street , a pleasant evening at the end of summer; the kind of evening that makes lovers yearn wistfully for the days of their youth… and other, overly poetic things Eugene O’Neill would have said in his stage directions. Our hero and her husband roam Cortelyou Road in search of sustenance. (A recent cooking malfunction has rendered their oven useless for the time being and with no microwaveable food, they have taken to the streets for their evening nourishment.)
Less than interesting dialogue ensues as the couple walks along:
Josh: How about this place? They look open.
Courtney: They just closed.
Josh: (a few steps down the road) Ooh, this one! There are people sitting down inside. Oh, but their “closed” light is on.
Josh: What about Superior Deli? I really liked that sandwich that one time… Yeah, let’s go there.
Courtney: Don’t they have a debit slash credit minimum?
Josh: Oh… yeah.
Courtney: Do you have any cash?
Josh: I’ve got a dollar. (Non-Pinterian pause.) Do you have any cash with you?
Courtney: I think the only place on this street that takes debit cards with no minimum is Dunkin Donuts.
(Sound cue: Unnecessary honking of car horn on street.)
Josh: (disinterested) Hm… How about this place?
Courtney: That’s a bar…I don’t want to drink my dinner… (smiles) This time. I think Dunkin Donuts is gonna be our best bet. They have a totally decent chicken salad croissant.
Josh: (quasi-ignoring Courtney, per usual) What about here? (realizing) Oh… they’re closed.
Courtney: Yeah… (repeating verbatim for effectiveness): I think Dunkin Donuts is gonna be our best bet. I mean really, the chicken salad croissant is pretty good.
Josh: Let’s just go to Dunkin Donuts.
Courtney: (slightly peeved) Uh huh.
(Fluorescent lights up on a local Dunkin Donuts, shiny, clean, recently opened to the great joy of the Monday-through-Friday-A.M.commuter in the area.)
(Armand, DD cashier of nebulous origin and accent, waits for the ever- approaching closing time. He is slightly depressed that he will have to throw out the baked goods that were not sold or eaten at the end of the night… Slightly depressed, but mostly bored. Note: He is unusually polite for a New Yorker.)
(Enter our hero, and her husband. They have a spring in their step as they approach the counter. They are hungry and, after all, Dunkin Donuts is the only eating establishment on their street that does not have a debit card minimum.)
Courtney: What are you gonna get, sweetie?
Josh: I don’t know.
Courtney: I’m gonna get the chicken salad croissant. It really is pretty good, did I tell you I got it one time?
Josh: Uh huh.
Courtney: (spies newly hung pumpkin donut sign) Ooh, pumpkin!
Josh: Yeah, that sounds good.
Armand: Welcome to Dunkeen Donu’s, How-are-jou-dis-eveneeng-may-I-take-you-order? (with curiously rolled “r”)
Courtney: Uh…yeah. I want the chicken salad croissant and a Diet Pepsi. (Beat.) Since you don’t have Diet Coke.
Josh: I want the same.
Courtney: (aside to Josh) I really think you’ll like it.
(The couple pays and proceeds to sit down, waiting for their order. Increasingly less interesting dialogue ensues:)
Courtney: I wonder what they do with their leftover donuts at the end of the night?
Josh: What do you mean?
Courtney: Well, you know, most bakeries have to throw away their baked goods at the end of the night if they weren’t all sold or eaten.
Josh: Oh, because they might get stale or something. (recalls:) Like when we were at Shorter and we would go to Panera at closing time and get all those bags of bagels for rehearsal.
Courtney: Yeah. I should totally go ask that guy what they do with their left-over donuts. You know, in the name of research… for the blog.
Josh: You should! But I’m not gonna get in the way of your Courtney/woman magic. If I was up there when you asked he’d be like “Nooo….” (Beat.) But if you do ask, I want a chocolate cake donut.
Courtney crosses down stage center (where else?) and moves with confidence. For reasons unbeknownst to her, she suddenly takes on the speech patterns of a Southern Belle.
Courtney: (to Armand) Hiiiii……
Courtney: Hey, whaddy’all do with yer leftover donuts at the end of the niiight?
Armand: (unable to stifle a smile) Oho! Heard jou talkeeng about duh pumpkeen ones! Here! A pumpkeen one for you!
Courtney: (surprised) Oh! Thanks! Uh… can he have one? (points to well-concealed husband, sitting in a booth)
Armand: (As if noticing him for the first time) Oh… jase.
Courtney: Great! I think he wanted a choc—-
Armand: (interrupting) A pumpkeen one for him, too!
Courtney: (slightly disappointed) Oh… (Always the gracious penny-pincher:) Thanks!!! (testing the waters:) Hey, do you always give away the leftover donuts at the end of the ni—-
Armand: (interrupting, while abruptly exiting to the backroom:) Enjoy it! G’night!
Josh: (after a bewildered moment:) Sweet! A free donut!
Courtney: (while taking a bite:) And it’s really good. (decides:) Yay!
Josh: And it was free: yay!
(Playwright’s Note: Any resemblance to actual historical events is entirely intentional and accurate, with the exception of the Dunkin Donuts’ cashier’s name, which remains a mystery. Josh totally made the “Armand” part up. Like his name, the DD guy’s ethnicity also remains a mystery.
The playwright encourages the reader to go out and take advantage of these opportunities, like the one described in this play. Many bakeries and cafes follow this same policy, either greatly discounting their unused food prior to closing, or giving it away all together. Become familiar with the closing hours of your local bakeries, whether they are chains OR mom-and-pops.
The playwright also would like to remind readers that IT NEVER HURTS TO ASK. Who knows? Perhaps you’ll end up with an “Armand.” And… maybe even a spontaneously generated, yet surprisingly useful Southern accent.)