Wednesday, July 29


Generally speaking, I hold a great disdain for the general public. This is due largely to the fact that most people are stupid. It’s true and you know it. However, since having a child and thereby unleashing the fury of a two ½ year old on an unsuspecting community, I have tried to be a little more patient. Mainly because I am now one of those horrid people that you hate with the screaming kid in the next aisle. But when I walk into a Starbucks sans ADD-riddled child, just trying to get an iced coffee, a plain iced coffee (no frou-frou vanilla half-caf/half decaf chai latte, no whip and light foam), and it takes me over 15 minutes, well then I turn into my version of the Hulk. It’s the same, except without the green and I curse much, much more than Lou Ferrigno ever did.

One morning while running an errand (OK I was at work), I thought that I’d multitask and pop (OK sneak) into Starbucks. The one close to my office has the employees that are nice and super fast. I mean, like, one minute you’re standing there and the next you have your non-fat vanilla latte in one hand and your smoking debit card in another. Plus, if you are any kind of regular, they remember your name. Yeah, they’re good. But as soon as I walked in the door, I knew that this was not a super fast kind of day, with the line stretching all the way back to BFE (OK, like five people back).

Now, I know that I am not alone when it comes to having a frustrating experience in the outside world, where one must interact with others during the exchange of goods and services. I mean, we all know that customer service is dead, which is apparent by the employees who clearly don’t give a shit. Actually, I kind of understand, because I have been a retail jockey and I clearly didn't give a shit.

But, I've spent enough time behind a counter to have seen the worst in people. I don’t have the energy to tell you all the names that I’ve been called or all the horrific behavior that I have seen. I think I can sum it up best by saying that I once had a customer tell me that I “was what was wrong with this country,” when I gave him back to much change. So, sorry about that everyone, I guess I screwed it all up.

But on this particular day, it wasn’t the employees that were wreaking havoc on my Starbucks experience. It was my fellow customers, guests, visitors or whatever the hell you want to call us. The people standing in line with the money. I stretched my neck and got a glimpse of the problem at the head of the line. By the pile of crap she had on the counter, I could tell this transaction was going to be a doosy. Turns out, she wasn’t even getting a drink, she was just buy stuff. And by the way she was doing it, you’d have thought that we were in Florida at a sea-side souvenir shop. But instead of a dehydrated starfish it was ground coffee. She had mugs, coffee beans, CD’s and other unbelievable shit. Just shit. Shit you and I would look at, but never ever buy, because it's shit.

Literally, this woman would pick up one thing, look over at another thing and say “Oooo, what’s that?” The girl behind the counter rolled her eyes ever so slightly and said, “it’s a french press.” In my head, I thought, “oh this is just great! If she doesn’t even know what coffee is we are going to be here forever while someone explains the likes of a french press to her.” And we were. Finally, when the counter had no more space, and no more knacks could be knicked, she and her daughter decided "what the hell? Let’s try some of this so-called coffee." That’s when they decided to decide what they wanted to order. I shit you not.

The Mom looked at the menu and then had to have a primer in Starbucks-ology, and no, her reaction wasn’t nearly as funny as Paul Rudd’s. The whole transaction just went on and on with eventually both women choosing a frothy vanilla shake-looking totally non-coffee type jobby with lots of whipped cream (which on a bitchy note, they both could have done without).

At this point, I was actually not doing any deep sighing or eye rolling, but that was all about to change. I knew it was headed down hill when it was time to pay and I heard the sentence start out with “OK…” An “OK” followed by a trail off usually means that something complex and frustrating is coming. The souvenir woman started grouping everything into little piles, saying, “I need to pay for these separately.” I finally had had enough. My eyes rolled, I sighed - loudly, my arms crossed, my weight shifted from one leg to the other. “Are you kidding me?” I thought. The line was dangerously close to the door when this woman finally got all her coffee memorabilia paid for and waddled her fat ass down the counter to wait for her vanilla shakes.

I calmed down quickly as I realized that I was three people away from getting my very simple, yet very important iced coffee. I truly believed that the most difficult part of my journey was over. That’s about the time one of the girls in front of me busted out a list. “Yeah, I have some orders here that I need to pay for separately.” I had been trying really hard not to be impatient. Trying. But I’m just not a patient person. I am, however the kind of person that stands in front of the microwave and yells “hurry!” And even at my advanced age, I still do the little kid agitated arm-flailing dance when things aren’t happening fast enough for me, usually moaning “huuuuurrrrryyyyyyyyeeeeeeee.” But since I was in public, instead of doing any actually arm flailing, I just thought it. In hindsight, it reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine is stuck on the subway and she screams “move!” in her head over and over.

While I was meditating on how miserable I was, I failed to notice a new development. The lady in front of me with a huge basket purse and frizzy hair had begun to talk to the guy behind me, who looked like Bill Cosby in the 80s (awesome geometric sweater included). It became very clear that they were friends, and it also became clear that they were going to forge ahead with their exchange despite the fact that I stood in their way like a natural barrier. Because of my prime location, I was forced to listen to their inane conversation. At first, I ignored it, but when someone is talking a foot away from your face, you kinda get involved.

Apparently, Basket Lady had been house hunting, but hadn’t been able to find anything. I mean anything. “You know, because you have to go outside of town. Forget about the schools. I mean, you can’t find a good one here.” Now this is where I chime in that where we live is a pretty nice little town. I get so frustrated when I hear spoiled hippies bitch about “crime,” “traffic,” or “schools” here. I’ll admit, I haven’t exactly lived in Cabrini-Green, but I did spend the better part of a decade inside a major metropolitan city. You want to see a bad school? I’ll show you one. It was right near my old apartment, and I was afraid to walk past it because the students scared the shit out of me. So spare me your tales of woe because you can’t find a school for little Cheyenne that implements the “talking stick” as a proper tool of communication.

Back to the Basket Lady. She lamented on about not being able to find a house that suited her needs. Oh, wait, I mean a house that suited her Feng Shui needs. “Because I need to wake up to the sun, ya know?” She said as she spread her hands out in a jazz like fashion as if to illustrate the sun. “When I get up I need to be energized and have my coffee and really wake up!” Wow, I thought. I can’t believe that you are having trouble finding a house, not in town, but not too far out, that has good schools and has been properly feng shuied. I mean, there must be, what like, none of those in Kansas. Believe it or not, I opted not to reach out and slap the bejesus out of her, even though she seemed like she could really use it.

Thankfully though, the Basket Lady and Bill Cosby dropped the topic of house hunting and their conversation moved forward, unlike the line. The two girls that were ordering drinks for everyone they’d ever met were still trying to get it together, which made me wonder where they worked, because I didn’t think that there was a business that big around here, but that just shows what I know.

After a time, the two gophers looked as if they were close to wrapping it up and the Basket Lady took the opportunity to rummage through her crazy basket purse and find her gift card. What do you know! It was the same gift card that Bill Cosby had given her. OhMiGod what are the odds of THAT! So she decides to ask Bill Cosby she could buy him some coffee. He says “oh no, I couldn’t let you buy me coffee on the gift card that I bought you. I bought that for you, not for you to buy coffee for me.” Basket Lady looked at him all coy-like and said “But you were so generous, please let me buy you a coffee.”

Thankfully, Bill Cosby relented and said “OK” so I wouldn’t have to watch her flirt anymore. But instead of doing the polite thing and stepping into line with him to buy coffee on the gift card that he bought her, he cut in front of me and the two of them continued their conversation without missing a beat. Now, I would have been OK with the line jumping had he just asked, but Bill Cosby just cut in line, without so much as a glance in my direction. Not even an embarrassed “sorry-she’s-making-me-do-this-and-I-know-it’s-rude-thanks-for-not-making-a-deal-out-of-it.” It was like I didn’t even exist. Jello pudding eating mother-fucker.

He then proceeded to pull out his credit card because “I just couldn’t let you pay for this.” Finally, they were ready to order, thus putting an end to the dispute over who was going to pay for coffee. I swear had their “argument” continued any longer, I was ready to interrupt them and offer to pay for BOTH coffees if it would shut them the fuck up. Of course neither one of them knew what they wanted. I think by now I was putting my head in my hands and the baristas looked like they wanted to maim a bitch.

At long last, it was my turn. I could hardly believe it. But you know what? I was ready. I knew what I wanted and I ordered my iced coffee with skim milk, had my debit card ready, and was done in 2 minutes flat. I was happy, the barista was happy, the people in line behind me were more than happy. That, my friends is how you order coffee.