I stop by the same coffee shop every morning on the way to work. For several months now, I've had only the highest of praise for the place--the coffee does the job, it's fairly priced, and the staff is surprisingly tolerable. Some are even cool people I'd likely hang out with if social boundaries weren't a thing.
But when the fury of a Larry David plot-line descends upon any coffee shop, there's no turning back:
Yesterday I decided to go all Peyton Manning about 15 seconds before the snap. Switched it up and got a coffee AND a bagel, and even decided to sit down for a few and go over some stuff before heading to work. The barista only charged me for the coffee. I figured since I'd been tacitly admitted into the holy echelon of "regulars," this was me cashing in on my rewards points. As an establishment, this is something you do for loyal customers. It sort of made my day. I went home and told my girlfriend. It was a big deal.
Today I walk in an get my usual "small coffee." Same barista as yesterday. It's important to note that out of all the baristas I usually deal with, she's definitely the equivalent of the person in your friend group you only hang out with because they're in your friend group. The person you sort of dread getting stuck in the car alone with, because both of you are well aware you have significantly less to talk about than what your friendship would indicate. Self-absorbed as I am, figured the free bagel gesture was her attempt to bridge this strange gap given that I'm so tight with the others. So when I roll up to the front of the line and it's the same barista, I'm down to be A LOT more freindlier than usual. Conversation that escalates beyond traditional customer/server lingo.
But when I get there, she's completely glacial. I'm a bit baffled, but life goes on so I my coffee, I hand her $2, wait for my change and....it never comes. She stiff-armed me. HARD. And we're not talking Jonathan Stewart here--this shit was Terrell Davis level.
Given that it's a minimal amount of change (10 cents, WHICH, by the way, I throw in the tip jar about 50% of the time), this wasn't something I could totally be all yo what the fuck-like. My gut-instinct was not to make a scene--arguing over 10 cents is too easy of a way to fulfill all stereotypes of the stingy young Jewish male that I
try to avoid being am, but I mean COME ON. She's now in my head. I'm shaken. I'm pissed. My excitement over one of the few examples of unprovoked human decency was mercilessly slaughtered.
Naturally, I've spent all morning figuring out the possible scenarios of what went down.
- She didn't hear me order the bagel. Her fault
- Knowing I order the same thing every time, she selectively chose not to hear the words "plain bagel with butter." Her fault
- Upon recieving my bagel, she realized that I had ordered a bagel. No one's fault, but obviously I'm not going to go out of my way to pay for something I wasn't charged for. AND, if I did offer to pay, she may have found it insulting that I did not appreciate her kind gesture.
So now, I'm faced with a real dilemma. I could of course go back and not give a shit, but the sanctity of the customer/establishment relationship has been compromised to the point where this will always be lingering. It could even extend beyond this. Especially if the barista manages to read this post--unlikely, though definitely possible. I've established an attachment and relationship with that place, and now that relationship is soiled. Soiled, Jerry.
Lyrics from that song from The Clash. Please help: