At Starbucks, I have received my Grande Red-Eye and am standing at the preparation station where one adds sugar or its substitutes and cinnamon or nutmeg or vanilla or chocolate powder. I am studying the four dimly labeled canisters containing whole milk, half-and-half, skim milk and fat-free milk. You have to turn each one this way or that to locate and read the labels. Would it be too much to ask that Mr. And Mrs. Starbuck consider painting each of these a different color for the convenience of their customers?
A young quick-motioned woman dressed for a cold commute to a professional workplace is next to me at the station. She has stirred in her additives and is trying to jam the cap back on her twenty ounces of coffee, causing it to kick out from under her push and to spill over the counter, the floor and into an open shopping bag by her side that contained laundry, some paperwork and running shoes.
I looked up at her and saw the reason for this disaster. She had been trying to seal the cap one-handedly because her other hand pressed a cell phone against her ear.
I don’t want to blame her for the national gablaise of cell phone addiction that is ruining the mechanics of common congress but I was not going to let the moment pass unpegged.
“That would not have happened if you were not glued to that phone.”
“Tell that to my mother” she said, imitating my cadence and offering me the phone.
“Give it to me” I replied, and because this is a New York City story, she handed me her phone without a moment of hesitation.
“Hey lady, get off the phone and let your daughter have a life.”
“Who is this?” bellowed a Harvey Fiersteinish voice from the bottom of some dreadful well.
“Jesus, lady, you could cut diamonds with that voice, and a diamond is just what you daughter will never get if you keep her tied to the phone although I am considering marrying her just to free her from having to listen to you.”
“Put my daughter back on this phone or I’m calling the police!”
I handed the phone back to the young woman who put it up to her ear and then lowered it again, shifting her weight into a more relaxed pose, and, sounding like a Junior League version of her mama, she said “Thanks. So what’s your name?"