I’m a social coffee drinker. That means I only have a cup occasionally when someone else does, and I insist on decaf black. So, I don’t visit the fancy stores that sell all kinds of elaborate drinks based on coffee very often.
Plenty of people do, though. They either line up their cars around the freestanding coffee shops, or line up themselves — 6 feet apart, of course — at the outlets in mega-supermarkets. While I’m not a big coffee drinker, I am a sucker for the shop’s warm, cider-tasting, fall drink.
Recently, my taste buds were hankering for a cup of that sweet drink. My wife, Carla, said she would pass, but to go ahead and get some while she began shopping. I agreed, and I couldn’t believe my luck. No one was in line! This would be a quick purchase.
You think I would have learned by now to never make such assumptions. The waiter, barista or whatever you call him, went straight to work on my drink. But then he stopped.
“Oh, I am out of juice,” he says. “Let me see if I have some in the back.”
Soon, he was back. No luck.
“That’s OK,” he says. “I’ll just go out in the store and get some apple juice.”
Huh? Are you kidding me? That luscious stuff I crave is just regular old apple juice with some other things thrown in? I figured it was some secret ingredient.
I watched him wander off toward the juice aisle. Soon, he disappeared from my sight.
A couple walked up. “Oh, no one is working here?” the lady asked.
“Oh, he’s here,” I answered. “He just went to get apple juice.”
A quizzical look appeared on her face. Then she smiled and said, “Oh, OK. We’ll wait.”
I’m glad it made sense to them. Leaving the counter unattended to go shopping for apple juice didn’t make much sense to me.
Soon I spied him wandering back. He opened the jug behind the counter, poured a bit in a cup, did some other magic and handed it to me. That cup of hot apple juice cost me almost twice what I could have bought the whole jug for if I just picked it off the shelf myself.
I couldn’t wait to tell Carla how crazy that was. I tracked her down by the meat counter. She didn’t laugh when I told her my tale. In fact, she didn’t miss a beat.
“Oh, I was in line one day, and they told the person in front of me they couldn’t make the drink because they were out of apple juice,” Carla says. “The person suggested they go get some off the shelf, and they said that wasn’t an option.”
Apparently, my barista hadn’t read that part of the employee training manual!