Lately at work I have been making my coffee on my own. Essentially, this means that I make a pot of coffee and then drink a pot of coffee as there are few other coffee drinkers at my office. Today I felt I needed to cut back some on my low-grade crack habit, so I stopped into my local Starbucks for a cup of coffee to offset having a pot of coffee. (By “my local Starbucks”, I of course mean the Starbucks on the near corner rather than the Starbucks on the far corner.)
When I joined the queue there were five patrons ahead of me. I was in no hurry so this concerned me little at the time. However, seconds turned into minutes and the line never moved and I became antsy. The person directly in front of me in line gave up and the person in front of her soon followed. I convinced myself, “Well, that is like moving up in the line two places, so no time lost.”
Minutes turned into scores of minutes, and still there was the same person at the head of the queue as when I arrived. My focus turned to her to figure out what in blazes was taking so long. She swiped her Starbucks gift card. She swiped her Starbucks gift card. She swiped her Starbucks gift card. She swiped her Starbucks gift card. Good God! Her gift card clearly does not work, yet she insists that it will if only the cashier will give her another go*. The cashier tries to explain to the customer that she thinks the card reader is not operating properly and that it is not the card.
The cashier braves a peek at the rest of the line. It continues to grow in size and impatience. She cowers in fright. Meanwhile the lady behind me, the man in front of me and I have begun to make jokes about how pathetic we are to wait for 20 minutes for coffee, which then leads into general conversation.
Finally, the clerk calls the manager and the pesky customer is pulled aside. The next customer steps up, orders…and pulls out a Starbucks gift card to pay. In the movies this is where the camera would zoom in on the gift card and a trombone would mock you with “WAH WAH WAH WAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” This second customer’s card worked just fine, but criminitally, pulling out that card could have easily incited a riot.
As I drove away I waved goodbye to my new coffee friends who were also leaving at the same time. We all shared a knowing smile. Granted it wasn’t the invasion on the Normandy beaches, but we all endured brutal mental conditions together. There is going to be a reunion soon so we can all recount coffee stories of yore. Tom Hanks and HBO are interested in making a mini-series out of the incident.
*Note to all cashiers: At this point it is good practice to pull that customer aside and call for the manager to settle said customer’s squabble. After many summers clerking at K-Mart I can assure you that if a card is denied once, the gig is up. All the complaining and rescanning in the world will change nothing. Move on and let the other customers through.