A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
I’m starting to think stupid people have declared war on me. In the last month, I’ve had three conversations that defy the laws of reasonable behaviour, and as Goldfinger once said to James Bond, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.” Could it be that stupid people have finally realized I’ve been making fun of them for years and have decided to fight back? It looks like it.
I’ve already recounted my experience at the computer store, last week. I’m probably prevented by law from talking about the exchange I had at Motor Vehicles, but here is the final straw that happened at a coffee shop (not a mega-brand multi-national, BTW) where I was just trying to waste some time while my ride was at the doctor. (Again, believe it or don’t, this actually happened.)
The sign read:“Please wait to be seated” Oops! The price of the coffee just got a little pricier.
“Hell-o.” said the girl with the judgmental smile
“Can I just get a coffee?”
“We have a minimum charge during the afternoon.”
“Would you like a menu?”
“No, just coffee. Large Americano.”
“There’s a minimum charge. $4.75. Large Americano is only $3.99 plus tax.”
“Right. I’ll just give you the other 75 cents — plus tax if you like.”
“We can’t do that. It has to be a menu item.”
“Just charge me $4.75 for the coffee. What’s the problem?”
“We can’t do that. The cash register is coded. It only accepts menu items.”
At this point I’m a little frustrated but still reasonable. If the computer says I can’t have a large Americano, and the chick with the judgmental smile is thinking, “Why doesn’t this old bugger just go away?” who am I to rock the boat? However, defiantly, I sit down — $4.75 or no $4.75.
“Let’s do this: forget the large Americano. Why don’t we …”
“I’m not trying to be a bitch. It’s our manager’s policy so people don’t just order a small coffee and sit here all afternoon.”
Exactly my scam, but I wasn’t going to tell her that.
“Fair enough. I don’t think you’re a bitch. It’s okay. Let’s not worry about the large Americano. Just give me two medium Americanos. Alright: that’s $2.99 — twice — problem solved.”
The judgmental girl held up two fingers.
I can see her doing the calculations in her head.
… $9.50 (slight pause) plus tax.”
“No, $2.99 which is 3 dollars. Right? (big pause) Times two (even bigger pause) is six dollars.”
The judgmental girl was clearly losing her cool and started speaking to the old fella in front of her as if he was deaf, half blind, mostly stupid and had just escaped from “The Home.”
“Our minimum charge is $4.75. $3.99 for a large Americano isn’t enough money. It isn’t enough. $2.99 is even less.”
“But I’m ordering two.”
“I didn’t make the policy. My manager says ‘Our minimum charge from noon to five is $4.75.’ Here: it’s printed right on the menu. That’s $4.75 and $4.75 (counting on her fingers) which is $9.50.”
I couldn’t help myself.
“Plus tax. Yes. Okay.”
“Okay, you win. Give me a medium Americano (big bad look from the judgmental girl) to go.”
Sigh of relief from both of us.
“I’m sorry. It’s our manager’s policy. I just work here. I have to do what they tell me to.”
“No problem. I totally understand.”
At this point, the score is Stupid People: 3 — WD Fyfe: 0.
I’ll keep you posted.