Petty grievances usually mean muttering profanities under one’s breath. Or, if you’re a real societal drain, keying someone’s car. Rarely do they involve the systematic deposit of McDonald’s coffee cups on your rival’s lawn for three years running. But you read the headline, so you know it happened.
According to The Buffalo News, Edward and Cheryl Patton of Lake View, New York, had been perplexed by a mysterious litterer who would stop by their home at night and toss a used McCafé coffee cup on their property. The perpetrator stayed in their car, launching the cups out the vehicle’s window. Some of them came with cigarette butts, others napkins. One cup might be tossed, or several. It was as if someone’s coffee run was being weaponized as a tool for revenge.
Over time, the Pattons saved the evidence, which grew to 10 garbage bags full of 300 cups.
Attempts to identify the assailant were made, but to little effect. The Pattons couldn’t make out the car’s license plate on security cameras. Only the act was visible.
“I can actually see, like, his arm would come out the window and the cup would land on the lawn and bounce,” Edward Patton told the News.
Eventually, they enlisted the help of their neighbors, who agreed to keep watch. One of them spotted the suspicious car and followed it long enough to jot down the plate, which was turned over to local police.
Police ran the plate and discovered it belonged to a man named Larry Pope. His connection? Pope was one of Cheryl’s former co-workers—a man whom, she said, appeared to dislike her owing to their disagreements over union activity. Officers parked nearby one evening hoping to catch Pope in the act, and they did.
Pope was ticketed for harassment as well as for throwing trash on a roadway. He later sent a letter of apology to the couple and reimbursed them roughly $2800 to cover the expenses they incurred in trying to catch him. In return, a judge agreed to dismiss the charges against Pope.
“I would like to apologize to Mr. and Mrs. Patton for my compulsive behavior of littering,” People wrote, according to Edward Patton. “I meant no harm. I'm very remorseful for any problems that I may have caused you or your family. I have learned a valuable lesson for my poor judgment.”
Despite his late-night actions, Pope’s coffee cups were almost always marked decaf.
[h/t Food & Wine]