I lost my temper a few days ago. I’m never at my best first thing in the morning, and I do find that being in a queue in Starbucks is not really the best way to begin the day. I like waking up either earlier than the businessmen rush or mid-morning, then I avoid the six or seven deep queue. The morning in question, there was just one person in front of me. She paid and went to wait by the little high table next to the coffee machines. The person at the till, was doing something else (I can’t remember what; let’s pretend he was getting some change or changing the receipt paper roll). Behind me, a guy was barking – not literally – into his mobile phone. The use of mobile phones, I’m sure, has been blogged about a zillion times. Now it will be a zillion and one. It’s a few days ago now, so bear in mind that the story has changed in my head, the way that stories do. Were we to see CCTV footage of the event, it’d be totally different, I’m sure, but this is what happened. I turned to him, caught his eye, told him he was shouting. In bad Spanish. He did a dismissive smile, looked away, and continued barking – not literally – into his phone. And out of nowhere, I channelled my inner Larry David, and equally loudly, about 18 inches from his head, mimicked his volume, barking – not literally – nonsense words at his face. He looked at me like I was crazy, and said, in English, “What’s wrong with you, man?” I turned away, angry but happy that I had caused him to end his phone call. I paid for my fancy coffee, and walked over to the little table. Victory was mine. Probably.
The baristas in Starbucks aren’t very good at making cappuccinos. In the States and Canada, they, on the whole, are pretty good. Here, you kind of have to specify that you don’t want a gallon of milk in there unless you order a cappuccino, but actually want a latte. Interestingly (oh really, Craig?) I went into my local place a week or so ago, and they were having what the manager (she’s always friendly to me and has a chat) called, “an international visit.” There was an English man being shown the hand-drawn chalk boards with the specials on them. One of the employees was telling him about the Mexican-y drawings next to whatever hideously sweet variation of frappuccino was available this week. But, the international visit had made everyone pick up there game. Best cappuccino I’ve ever had there. Not too wet, not too dry. Just right. And I was only stood next to the little table for about 30 seconds.
That little table fascinates me. “Fascinate” is probably the wrong word. But, y’know, I’ve stood near one of those little high tables quite a lot in my life. It’s kind of amazzing the way people behave near the little high table. (Not amazing enough to have two zeds, but that was a typo that I felt like leaving in.) When it’s not busy, I feel it’s fine to stand next to the table and wait. But if it’s busy, normal people (code for “people who do things that I don’t have a problem with in my mental brain”), normal people kinda keep a distance of a few feet. It makes sense. You might have ordered a strawberry and champagne-infused platinumaccino so it makes sense to keep a bit of distance, cos the dude who ordered a cappuccino or English Breakfast tea might have his drink before you. I tend to keep my distance, and only go up to the table when my drink is called out. But then, there are the people who, seeing four or five people waiting, decide that they are just gonna waltz – not literally – up to the table, and plonk their fat elbows down. One time, I saw a woman do that. She was attractive, so obviously, the world has bestowed her with an invisible Access All Areas pass on an invisible golden lanyard. She did the plonk, and got one of the little green “splash sticks” and started picking at her teeth with it. This happened at a different time, on a different day, but like the editor of Big Brother who will cut in a reaction from another time just to make the narrative “better,” I caught the eye of one of the employees. She rolled her eyes. I smiled. We both knew: the tooth picking lady was a dick.