I stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts yesterday on my way to work to buy a cup of coffee. Ahead of me were a man, then a woman, deep in whispered conversation with a boy of about 10. We waited two or three minutes while the man ordered his coffee, received it, and paid. Then it was the woman’s turn.
DD employee (indicating two bottles of water that the woman was carrying): “Will that be all?”
Woman: “No … er … let’s see …what do you want, honey?” (More whispered conversation with child.) “Umm … .”
Now the woman and boy didn’t walk across the parking lot in front of me, so they hadn’t just got there. They’d been there long enough to get the bottled water from the fridge, then we waited for the man to finish up being served. It never occurred to them, during their sotto voce chat, to start discussing what they wanted?
Woman: “Plain bagel, toasted, with cream cheese.” (Yet more whispered conversation with child while DD goes off and prepares the bagel.)
DD: “Anything else?”
Woman: “Yes, another plain bagel, toasted, with cream cheese.”
DD (goes off and prepares the second bagel): “Is that it?”
Woman: “And a chocolate cream donut.”
DD (having fetched and bagged the donut): “Will that be all?”
Woman: “One small coffee, cream, no sugar. And the water.”
Halfway through this, the man behind me gave up and left. I stayed out of a kind of ghastly fascination with how much longer it could go on—and the fact that the alternative for coffee was the new Starbucks around the corner that I walked out of last week after waiting for five minutes, during which time one customer’s transaction had still not been completed. (As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up.)
Do you know the scene in Cabaret where Sally Bowles (Liza Minelli) takes Brian (Michael York) under a railway bridge, and when the train goes over, she screams at the top of her lungs (of course, unheard over the noise of the train)? Well, I badly needed that railway bridge. My other impulse was to push the woman up against the wall, tell her she was the most stupid person I’d ever had the misfortune to encounter in my life, then grab her by the neck and squeeze the life out of her. Fortunately I didn’t act on it, which is how come I am sitting here writing this and not in the pokey paying my debt to society.
Anyway, the rest of my day was better. Oh, except for walking out of the Starbucks next to the Chinese restaurant where I had lunch because I got bored with being ignored while the barrista polished the espresso machine and chatted with a friend.
Is the message that I should stop drinking coffee?