I made a woman cry today. I ordered coffee at a local coffeeshop. And she cried.
Well, okay, maybe it wasn’t really that simple, let me back up a little.
I’ve been having mini meltdowns at work for about two weeks now. Personal stuff being topped by work overload along with a self esteem issue tinged by depression has left me feeling and acting rather raw.
The sudden and tragic (but you know aren’t they all so?) death of a dear friend’s significant other, who also is someone I count as a friend pretty much sent me over the waterfall from blubbering mess to stoic numb person.
I went to the shop to pick up iced chai lattes for a friend and her coworker because I do that pretty much whenever I visit them. And since they put up with my blubbering and opinions, it’s a win-win situation.
I was second in line. The lady before me and the woman behind the counter were talking in such a way that it was apparent they knew each other well. The lady ordering placed her order, and the woman punched it in and then they had a conversation about grasses. The lady ordering was selling the woman behind the counter ornamental grasses and they proceeded to discuss the virtues of short grasses vs tall grasses. I took out my cell phone and toggled the time (remember watches?) They continued talking. I really didn’t know that the search for the perfect ornamental grass was so involved. Again I took out my cell phone and toggled the time. Five minutes had passed. I must have looked exasperated, because the woman behind the counter apologized. I said, hey, if I could just place my order it would be fine, they could go on with their conversation. Really I meant that, it would be okay with me. Another person was making up the drinks.
And so the path towards me making her cry was set. I complicated matters by using the little buy X get 1 free punch cards. My friends and I keep cards going there and occasionally I cash them in. I slid them across the counter as she punched things into the cash register. She eyed them as though they were a snake. “Oh,” she said, “you’re using those.” I blinked. Well yeah, I had planned to do.
The co-worker drinks hers a little differently than my friend and I do. For one 🙂 she gets an iced cafe latte rather than a chai masquerading as a slurpee. She also gets an extra shot of expresso in it. But she always orders is as an ‘iced coffee with a double shot’. Therein lies the problem. According to the coffee expert I spoke with afterwards, a ‘double shot’ is not a literal doubling of the amount of shots, but simply 1 extra shot. Not the “well we normally put 4 in so 8 and I’ll have to charge for each one extra” solution that she seemed determined to ring in.
I said, wow that’s a lot of coffee. And around and around we went. After a time I got fed up, (wasn’t that long, pretty much started at the 5 minute wait time) and said, look just make it the normal way you would and I’ll find out how she orders it.
That’s when it happened. The tears started to fall and she went into the deer in the headlight stance I’ve found myself in far too many times of late. Her fingers started to shake on the till keys and she blinked at me and then said, “I can’t remember your order.” I repeated it. I would like to add, I did not do so in a nasty way, nor a condescending way. I simply, repeated it.
I also pointed out that she had already punched the card for the one I would be paying for, but she insisted on punching it again. Okay I thought. I’m sorry she’s that upset, well not sorry exactly, as I don’t think I did anything I need to apologize for but I do empathizise with that sense of paralysis.
I paid and the order was processed. The other woman sent her off outside to calm down. She came around the corner and bumped into me heavily. Okay, I thought. She can’t see where she’s going, cause she’s crying. Maybe she wears contacts and they are swimming in her tears and I shrugged it off. She did say excuse me when she bumped into me.
Then as my order was being filled and I reached for them, she did it again coming in. Bumped right into me as she bustled past to get back behind the counter. No, I didn’t spill my drinks but I no longer felt any sympathy for her.
Once is an accident. Twice is deliberate.
“Bump into me like that again,” I said, “and I’ll beat you with a stick.” I said it quietly but she heard me. She blinked, I smiled and walked out with my chai, thai and cafelatte.
I wonder what will happen the next time I go in to get coffees for the group.
QUESTION OF THE MOMENT: Who makes up these names anyway and why am I stupid for not knowing the ingredients of each and every variation?