I loathe coffee in the afternoon Tea, sure. Not coffee.
But now that 5 p.m. is merely the middle of a 12-hour workday, I am coming around to accepting that a full-on Cafe Mocha WITH whip and whole milk might just be the ticket.
Of course, when you say you’re headed down the street for coffee, three line cooks, two sous chefs, and your boss pounce on the notion.
Thus, today I found myself with multiple orders scribbled on a sticky note and and a handful of crumpled one-spots, fivers, and a twenty stuffed in my back pocket as I made my way outside for the first time in seven hours.
Remember what it was like to get out of school early for a doctor’s appointment? Didn’t you marvel at all the people going about their lives–lives that had nothing whatsoever to do with the 4th period bio class you weren’t in? I was there today, marveling at the office workers lingering in doorways who laughed and smoked with their peers, then flicked their cigarette butts onto the sidewalk before disappearing once again into the folds of their brick-and-glass buildings.
Starbucks was hopping, per usual. (An aside–I find it to be a marketing wonder that three Starbucks can exist within two-and-a-half blocks of one another and still be packed all the time, all day, every day.) So there I was, sticky note and wrinkled bills in hand, delivering my “Can I pay for all these separately?” pain-in-the-ass orders, when SHE swept in.
Clearly, only fools line up to the right, because SHE walked up to the front of the line on the left and demanded, “An orange crumb muffin, please. Right now. I have to catch a taxi.”
I, along with my fellow late-afternoon caffeine refugees, were too stunned to challenge her. We were tired and we were weary, but we were also agog. “What the hell?” each of us wondered, sneaking a surreptitious glance at one another. SHE did say “please” though, didn’t SHE?
Well, yes, but SHE was a total idiot.
“You only have one register open? I need to pay right now. I have a taxi to catch.”
“Ma’am,” one of the barristas told her, “The line is there, to the right. You can’t go in front of all those people.”
With a look that defined “Surely you jest,” SHE defied us all.
“I think I just told you I have a taxi to catch, and I want that orange crumb muffin, now!”
In a show of solidarity, I know the rest of us customers were thinking the same thing: “Excuse me Miss, but I–all of us, in fact–were here first.”
But in a show of solidarity, not one of us spoke this thought aloud.
No, we weren’t afraid; we were astounded. Okay, and a little afraid. This woman sported a full-length fur coat, mosquito-eye-like sunglasses, perfect hair, and high heeled boots. We were wearing rumpled suits, scuffed shoes, and shirts with loosened ties.
SHE looked perfectly put together. We did not.
SHE also looked crazy.
SHE paced. SHE mumbled about how long it was taking. SHE asked three times, “And my muffin?”
At my former restaurant, this type of “SHE” was a staple of the clientele. Two weeks away from there, and in the midst of anticipating and preparing for an entirely different style of “crazy” guest, I wonder….
Do they ever really go away? Do they ever really behave better just because you operate in the fine-dining realm? Do they ever quit acting spoiled? Do they ever regain their manners?
Hmm. Time–and a short stint of it–will tell, won’t it?