March 22, 2021 § 4 Comments

Year before last my friend Tobin gave me a coffee cup. It was big and white enameled and insulated steel. It said “Yeti” on the box, which I’d never heard of.

I almost tossed it because 1) I had a coffee cup and 2) more junk. But I didn’t because it was a gift from a very thoughtful person. Tobin isn’t random or impulsive like me. So I stuck it in the back of the cupboard as my life was fragmenting and forgot about it.

When my lease died last July and I became officially unhoused, I culled everything I owned. There were three categories: Dumpster, storage, or going with me on my bike. Storage items all fit into a few cardboard boxes. Dumpster items were even fewer.

Impulsively, I hooked the Yeti onto my rack. It was too heavy, too capacious, and really belonged in the trash. But I was going to give it a chance to prove itself to me before chucking it. I owed that much to Tobin.

Who knew that on a journey outdoors, or rather a bikeabout of indeterminate length you might need a cup?

The cup stepped up on Day 1. I had camped illegally and needed to drive in tent stakes. No pounding device and no rocks nearby. “Okay, Yeti, you’re at bat.”

I pounded the shit out of the stakes and terribly dented the unused cup. Then the next morning I made coffee and learned that these cups keep things boiling hot. It has something to do with insulation or magic and etcetera.

Over time, my cup and I became pals. Hot coffee, hot oatmeal, hot coffmeal, instant soup, and never again abused as a battering ram. Clipped to a carabiner and stowed in the mesh on my backpack, my Yeti has become grimy, scratched, and de-enameled from the bitter daily work of travel and camping by bike.

Of course now I know that Yeti is a BRAND and a STATUS SYMBOL and A SIGN OF THE RUGGED OUTDOORS. But the cups I see all look shiny and clean and new. The campers I meet who have the same cup … well, they simply don’t have the same cup.

The uglier mine gets, the more I like it. I take care of it but don’t worry about the grime and the scars. The more beat-up it gets, the more tightly I hold it close. The more I appreciate it. And here’s what’s funnier: every time I look at it, drink from it, or clip it to my pack, I think with gratitude about the person who thought enough of me to make it a gift.

What if all gifts were that special?



§ 4 Responses to Cup

  • Arkansas Traveler says:

    My Catalina camping cup is my version of that of which you speak. It becomes a mandala/amulet.

  • Brian Keller says:

    The Yeti rules, dude! Yours is well used and well loved.


    My Brother in law picked this up at this latitude, and uses it on all our camping adventures. He loves it. A good cup is everything.

  • BJORN SNIDER says:

    The American capitalist side of me is recommending you to take this exact blog (pics and all) and to forward it to Yeti marketing team to cash in.

    This is exactly what they want to convey as a brand. They’re not looking for the… I bought my 4wdr Range Rover but haven’t taken it past Whole Foods types.

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