Dastardly Duo (Originally Published July 2, 2010)

This past week I went to Star Wars in Concert with my brother and sister in law. A great time was had by all. The concert was fantastic, the prop and costume exhibit was great, and being able to see one of your childhood heroes, Anthony “C3PO” Daniels live in person had my inner child squealing like a rabid, helmet wearing monkey hopped up on Red Bulls and amphetamines suppositories.

Speaking of stimulants. We got to the concert with about half an hour until curtain time. We entered the event centre and I spotted a Starbucks kiosk. You know people always make jokes about a Starbucks location on every corner but I have no problems with it. Nothing better than being able to grab a Java wherever and whenever you need it. Why not expand their markets and start putting kiosks in other public gathering places? funeral homes, banks, the DMV, gynaecologists offices (“I’ll have a double espresso, bagel hold the cream cheese and a pap smear; hell make that a double too, I’m all papped up.”)

I said to my brother and sister in law that I’d catch up with them later I needed Java in a bad way. I got in line and waited my turn. I was getting closer to the till to order. With only one couple ahead of me I was certain I would be entering the Free Republic of Caffeine any second now, or so I erroneously thought. 

Mildly frazzled clerk: “Hiwhatcanigetyoutoday?” (you know a service worker is overworked when they speak like an overstimulated 5 year old jonesin’ on Skittles)

Daughter: “Do you serve soy drinks?”

Clerk: “No, we are not a full service location, just a kiosk, we just serve what you see on the menu.” (You know a clerk has lost their ‘joie de vivre’ for the gig when they utter a phrase like this and you swear you can hear their soul dying.) 

Daughter “Okay, I’ll have an Icespresso Chiller.”

Clerk: “We don’t serve those.”

Daughter: “How come?”

Clerk: “We are just a kiosk. We don’t serve everything that a regular Starbucks does” (said in complete monotone. You know in movies when a soldier gets captured by the enemy and all they do is repeat their name, rank and serial number in interrogations as a resistance technique? I think this phrase about the kiosk was the clerks interrogation resistance technique). 

Daughter: “Why can’t I see the iced coffee drinks on the menu? Doesn’t every Starbucks have those?”

Clerk:  “We are just a kiosk. We don’t serve everything that a regular Starbucks does” (getting visibly annoyed by the barrage of questions. At this point I think I heard the clerk crying… on the inside.) 

Daughter: (With an absolutely over dramatic 20 second pause for effect with the facial expression of a actress vying for an Oscar, or that Indian food she had for lunch suddenly disagreed with her, its hard to tell its a fine line between the two) “Then I don’t want anything. (I admit at this point I was watching this entire exchange and enjoying the absurdity of it immensely. This was more entertaining than the time I saw two hot drunks chicks making out in my back alley on a Wednesday afternoon….man I would love to know the back story on that one. I’ll be telling my grandkids about that day. “Did I ever tell you kids about the time five drunk chicks made out in my living room?” The number of drunk chicks will increase and the location will change because when you’re old you exaggerate and you know nobody’s really listening or you’ve gone senile or both.)

Just when you think its my turn to order, nope! It’s the moms turn to order.

Mom: “Do you have iced coffees?”

Clerk: “Yes they are $4.25”

Mom: “That much?”

Clerk: “Yes.” 

Mom: “Why don’t you just charge me for a regular coffee and pour it in a cup with ice?”

Clerk: “We don’t do that we already have our iced coffees are pre-made.”

Mom: “Why don’t you do it?”

Clerk:  (Hey kids what time is it? Time for…you guessed it!)  “We are just a kiosk. We don’t serve everything that a regular Starbucks does.” 

Mom: “Okay then, I’ll have a iced coffee”

The clerk looks terribly relived after the mom and daughter pay and move to side of the counter to wait for her iced coffee. Seriously, the clerks facial expression of relief reminded me of that scene from Shawshank when Tim Robbin emerges from the tunnel and looks upward to the rains to wash away the suffering and torment. I ordered my double Americano and was about to pay when to my right who comes back in the picture? The mom and daughter duo! 

Mom: “Excuse me where’s my coffee?”

Clerk: “You ordered an iced coffee”

Mom: “No I ordered a coffee” (I was there I’ll testify she did not order a coffee. Don’t you love it when you are a bystander and see somebody be completely off base wrong yet they will defend their need to be ‘right’ to the death?) 

Clerk: “You still want one? its $2.75.”

Mom: (The mom digs in her purse for change) “I ordered a coffee this is ridiculous.” (At this point I still haven’t paid and I’m sipping my double Americano and I’m watching this ludicrous exchange, thinking this is better than free cable TV.) The clerk hands her coffee.

Mom: “Where’s my cup with ice so I can make an iced coffee?” (At this point even I’m confused. She already has a pre-made iced coffee in one hand now she’s asking for a cup of ice to make an iced coffee with her hot coffee? This is getting absurd to the point of  being considered  ‘performance art.’

Clerk: “We don’t do that.”

With that the surreal exchange with the dastardly duo ends. The clerk was so frazzled she forgot about me and served the woman behind me before I reminded her she should take my money for the coffee. She ended up overcharging me for the Americano but after the ordeal I just witnessed she could have charged me $20 and I would have ponied up with a smile.

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