The picture I had of my afternoon entailed me sitting by the river outside my apartment with an iced coffee and writing in the sunlight. Yet, as is the case with many things in life, things did not turn out the way I had imagined. The detail of the delicious iced coffee was key to my complete fulfillment but somehow, here I am instead with a room temperature, watered down, auburn imposter. How I reached this point is a sad tale of a young woman who is so terrified of confrontation or the idea of “bothering” others that she lives with endless ruined cups of coffee. So how did it happen? Quality iced coffee is so easy to obtain; or is it? Let me walk through it.
As a true New Englander I went to good ol’ Dunkin Donuts. I appreciate a place like this because Starbucks intimidates me and I always feel like I don't belong (even though I think technically as a beverage drinking, laptop toting writer with a secret love for Josh Groban, I am their target customer). The venue choice was not my mistake but rather the decision to use the drive through because, as I learned today, you should be looking your barista in the eye when she makes your beverage. Intimidation is necessary to keep them in line.
Let me first be a little fair to the worker under scrutiny. I should say that my coffee order is obnoxious and it is possible it makes me a van driving soccer mom; minus the van, the kids, overpriced loafers and a taste for boxed wine. My preference is “a medium, iced, half caff, black, with three Splenda”. Trust me when I say it sounds as stupid to me as it does to you, but I have my reasons. I am sensitive to caffeine as it gives me migraines when consumed in normal to large amounts. Because of this I need a mixture of half regular and half decaf mixed together. I realize I could avoid the caffeine altogether but I like the hop it adds to my step and ordering pure decaf would make me a ninny. **NOTE: I am aware the using the word “sensitive” rather than “allergic” makes me suspect and an asshole.
As for inserting the word “black” into the order rather than just an omission of the words “cream” or “milk”, apparently Dunkin Donuts customers are not habitually black coffee drinkers. If you don’t specify they will in fact add cream or at least ask you (as though you just hit a puppy) “wait, you don’t want cream?!” Forget the rest of the order for the moment: I take issue with this alone. To me, this is the equivalent of a restaurant adding vodka to all orange juice orders because so many people are drinkers. Sure, a lot of people would be psyched about surprise day drinking, but when asking for OJ one should be able to assume they are getting just that. What if they served that screwdriver to a recovering alcoholic or a lightweight who has to drive home? What if the coffee shop that this great country “runs on” served cream to someone who is lactose intolerant? Giving someone the poops at the start of a workday is as unforgiveable as giving a vegetarian some bacon on their veggie burger. Sure, we all know it tastes better and that bacon is a key ingredient for awesome on everything, but let them eat their crappy patty however they choose. If I order coffee, I want coffee, and the addition of cream is a separate request.
But getting back to how this order got lost in translation; the Dunkin Donuts worker was beyond baffled by the concept of half regular/half decaf IN THE SAME CUP. How could this be? It would mean that she would have to stop pouring sooner, put down one type of coffee, pick up the other and finish the rest of the pour with it. Mind boggling, I know. Quantum Physics and Liquid Mixing were her two weak subjects in school and she thought she could get away with a life of never having to use either; I really threw a wrench into that plan. I had to actually explain the concept to her in steps because “it means half regular and half decaf” didn’t get the message through. “Just fill the cup half way with regular and then pour the decaf in the other half”…those words came out of my mouth today; seriously. Are there not enough hipsters ordering trendy things like half caff to help me spread the word? Maybe they are all in the cafés with nonsensical names so I am on my own at a major chain.
In the explaining of such lofty concepts, the rest of my drink order was lost. When I drove up to the window I was handed a LARGE, HOT, half caff, black with NO SPLENDA. Can I get a round of applause for this girl for getting it kind of half right? Maybe I will send her an award certificate for her accomplishments. Corporate should be paying me for the useful and intensive training I provide. She has now mastered the subtle art of half caff and this winner actually had a pride-filled grin on her face when handing me my order.
Here is the moment when my biggest downfall occurs though; I thanked her and drove away.
I took the drink from her, realized it was wrong, put it in my cupholder, paid for it, thanked her and left. All the while in my mind I was thinking, “This is NOT what I ordered but I don’t want to bother her.” BOTHER HER?! It would have taken her mere seconds to put the drink in a cup with ice and some splenda but I actually thought, “Well, I have those things at home, I will fix it so she doesn’t have to.” I think on some level this makes me nice, but barely. Mostly it makes me an idiot and a doormat with bad hot coffee on a hot day.
When I get home I go through a series of other unfortunate events all due to my inability to advocate for myself:
1. The glass: Too small. It is a Newbury Comics glass I got in college for getting suckered into signing up for their useless email list. Why this glass in particular? Because my dishwasher is still broken after the maintenance man came and thought he fixed it but OOPS, didn’t. I haven’t called him again because I don’t want to hurt his feelings in telling him he didn’t actually accomplish anything the last time.
2. The ice: Smells funky because the ice maker in my freezer needs a new filter and in the meantime I am left to choose whether my drinks are warm or smell/taste like hamster. Why isn’t it fixed? Because that would entail calling the maintenance man, and we already know how complex and emotional my relationship is with him.
I filled the glass with ice, poured hot coffee over said ice thus instantly melting the ice and watering down the coffee. Then, distracted by my mission to fix this, I drank the unsweetened version of this sludge in slow excruciating sips to make room for the fact that the genius in the pink and orange work polo had given me a large (which also means I was charged more money).
Thankfully there were no snags with the Splenda, but by the time I added it all was lost and it wouldn’t even mix in. It just sank sadly to the bottom like a metaphor of all my hopes and dreams.
I clearly have issues, but they sure do keep life interesting.