Wednesday, March 01, 2006
When my wife breaks out the vacuum cleaner that is the signal for every living thing in the house to get out of the way. The cats take for the high ground. The dogs run to any room the rug monster isn't. The husband suddenly remembers he needs something from the hardware store.
....The last time Hurricane Hoover raced through our house, I was hatted and coated and out the door before you can say "Just look at this mess!"
....I decided to check out a new coffee shop that had only opened last week. As a rule I don't frequent these houses of ill refuse.
Once there, I was reminded why I'd stopped casting my shadow across the entrances to these so-called coffee houses. After waiting for the drivers of two SUVs jockey themselves out the parking spaces large enough for two cars, I pulled deftly into one of the vacated spots. On the slim chance that either of those two drivers happened to glance into their rear view mirror, I pulled in between the painted lines to show them how it was done.
....The easiest path from my truck to the front door was impassible because of two vehicles parked so close together their side mirrors were almost kissing. I seriously doubt if an '83 Buick Electra and an '03 Toyota Corolla are compatible, but I am more than certain that the two drivers weren't going to be in a loving mood. The owner of ot the Toyota was going to need a rather large can opener to get into the front seat.
....It came as no surprise that the Electra on the left of the two spaces had taken up residence in a Handi-Capped space. There was no special plate or placcard visible, but in plain sight was the unmistakable blue and white picture of the AOL man in a wheel chair.
....I looked to my right to confirm a supposition. Sure enough the line for the drive-up window was eight cars long. Mr. Electra needed his java-fix so bad he couldn't wait in line. It is beyond me why anyone would wait to get to the drive-up window behind a long line of other cars, all the while burning gas and breathing fumes from the vehicles ahead. To me, it was obvious that I could park, go inside, place my order, and return to my truck before number eight even got to the window. It might not be much, but my little jaunt afoot was more exercise than drumming on a steering wheel.
....With hand speed that would be the envy of Buddy Rich, a young woman in a blue minivan looked like she was beating out the drum rolls in Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. Whether she was agitated or just getting into whatever was playing on her radio, I didn't know. My guess would be that she would place more value on a super-duper-large-deluxe cup of coffee than getting to work on time.
....Inside, I was at once assaulted by the aroma of burnt coffee beans and grease-fried dough. Based on the nearly full parking lot outside, I was expecting a flurry of activity at the bank of cash registers. Instead the floor area near the counters was vacant.
I had really lucked out, I thought. All of the walk-ins had been served and were sitting at the tables.
....I approached the waitress manning the counter. (I wonder, to be PC should I have typed "womanning the counter," or "personning the counter?") She appeared to be irritated that she had to drop doing nothing to actually perform one of the duties listed on her job description.
...."Could I have a medium regular coffee with milk to go, please?" I politely asked of her.
....I grimaced as she began her brain-washed, programmed, and memorized by rote spiel. "Good morning, sir. Welcome to Dunkin' Donuts. How may I help you today?"
....There was a painful pregnant pause punctuated by our cold blank stares into the other's eyes. I was thinking to myself, "Should I execute an en passant or should I unleash one of my Knights ?" She was probably thinking, "I wonder how those cute red pumps would look with my new coat?"
....I broke the silence, "I gave you my order when I got to the counter!"
...."You don't have to get huffy," she said. "I didn't hear you."
...."Of course not! How could you? You were busy thinking about your little speech," I countered starting to get huffy.
....She took a deep breath, crossed her arms across her chest and said nothing.
...."I would like a small regular coffee to go, please," I said calmly.
....Like a swordsman she lunged, "I thought you said you wanted a medium regular coffee?"
....En Garde! I formulated this in my mind. "You said you didn't hear me."
....She turned and roughly grabbed a cup from the upside down stack near the coffee pots. Avoiding eye contact, she began pouring the steaming black liquid into the cup. Pot and cup still in her hands, she turned and asked, "And how would like that coffee?"
....I groaned as I rolled my eyes toward the ceiling and sighed deeply before replying, "Regular, please."
....You could've sworn I had said some rude sexual comment to her had you been a witness. "Look mister, I don't have time for this. You're not the only customer in line!"
....I turned around to see ... No one. I was in fact the only customer.
....As I was turning back to her she said, "Do you want your coffee regular with sugar, or do you want regular without sugar? Maybe you want it black with or without sugar? It's you're order, honey."
....I was stunned speechless for a few seconds. All of my adult life I had been drinking my coffee regular. Whether I was back in West Virginia where I grew up, in Philadelphia, New York, Cincinnati, or Chicago, if I ordered a regular coffee, regular coffee was what I got. The presence or absence of sugar was never called to question. I was nearly sudued. She was getting the best of me.
....Slowly and with as much monosyllabism I could force myself to use I answered, "I'd like a med..ium reg..ular cup of coffee .. with milk and .. one sugar ... please."
....She seemed to undergo a transformation of sorts. She was smiling cheerfully as she brought my order to the register. I felt the urge to let loose a smile myself. That is until she placed the coffee in front of me ... in a cup ... on a saucer! I wanted the coffee to go! I kept a forced smile on my face, you know, the kind that hurt, as I reached into my pocket to fetch some money.
....I felt like a dog with my tail tucked between my legs cowering away from a larger one as I made my way to one of the tables. I had given up. I decided to drink the coffee, lick my wounds if you will, and to get the hell out of there. Then I took a sip! There was cream in it! She must have dumped three table spoons of sugar into the damned cup!
....I scanned the place and saw a refrigerated case in the far corner. It was filled with juices, bottled waters, and small containers of milk! I left the cup of coffee on the table - I was damned if I was going to police the tables! Grabbing a small bottle of milk, I shuffled back to the counter and the waiting counter-bitch. I ordered a medium black coffee in a paper cup. I pocketed a couple of those little packets of sugar. After I had paid her, I turned tail. That place would never see me again! I stopped at the door as my brain rattled off a quick calculation. "I'll be damned!" I said aloud. She had charged me for a large coffee!
....I had no fight left in me. I just tail-tucked hauled ass out of there. I looked at the drive-up line out of morbid curiosity. I had found reason to allow a smile creep back onto my countence. I thought about my escape from vacuum cleaner hell. 50 cents for the newspaper. 85 cents for the milk. $3.79 for two cups of coffee. The drummer in the blue minivan still three vehicles away from the drive-up window - Priceless!
Curmudgeon responsible for this post: Hale McKay at 12:15 AM