Coffee Spills

What I hear and see and think about at the coffee shops I patronize.
Brisk. Fresh. Well-balanced. Occasional nutty and bittersweet overtones.
If you got here from my profile, you probably need to visit my main blog, Collecting My Thoughts which is updated every day.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Small, medium or large?

Don't let your coffee shop mess with our language. Here's a delightful post about coffee cup size.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Three napkins; no sale

A man picks up a napkin on his way to the free sample table. He drops it, and it floats to the middle of the room. He doesn't stoop to pick it up, choosing instead to get another napkin and to scoot napkin #1 with his foot along the floor until he can deposit it under the table. After he eats the free bagel slice, he returns to the service counter wiping his fingers, and drops #2 on the floor when he tries to bank shot it into the trash can. With #3 he stands looking out the window, waiting for his ride. I never did see him make a purchase.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The sound of no silence

"Let's see if I have everything I need," the woman in the hand crocheted, multi-colored bonnet said at the next table to her two companions. Then she reached into her white canvas bag and pulled out something that made the sound of a flushing toilet.

Just what you want to hear over coffee and a bagel. Even if you don't usually notice what is going on around you at the coffee shop, you'd notice this!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Open toed shoes in the snow

Yesterday at the coffee shop I was the only person in the parking lot at 6:05 a.m. It was snowing and sleeting and about 2 inches of slushy wet cold goop was on the ground. As I was drinking my coffee I saw a woman come in about 6:45 wearing 2" high heeled, open-toed shoes. They sort of looked like what was popular in the 1940s, so it must be a new fashion trend. She didn't even stomp her feet to get the snow off the way I do, and my toes were curling in my shoes from empathy. She picked up a shopping bag full of goodies and headed back to the parking lot. Brrr. No wonder women don't get to the highest administrative levels. They can't keep their feet dry.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

How do you spell ophthalmology?

Putting on my coat 45 minutes before my doctor's appointment, I said to another regular at the coffee shop, "Do you know how to spell "ophthalmology?" He hesitated a moment, then said, "Well, I'm not a very good speller, but I do know that one. O-p-t-h-a-l-m," and then he hesitated, "then it's either an "a" or an "o". "You were in trouble on the first syllable," I said. And I spelled it. "Think of 'my eyes are off, so I'm going to the ophthalmologist.'" This phth is actually pronounced as p-th, and is called a medial cluster. It doesn't appear in many English words, which is probably why it is so often misspelled. Diphtheria isn't very common anymore, thank goodness; Ben Franklin tried to rid our language of diphthongs, and who uses naphtha soap anymore? So other than having an appointment with an ophthalmologist, you have little use for the medial cluster.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Look alikes--almost

At the coffee shop this morning I saw two women sit down at a table for two, and wordlessly spread cream cheese on their huge bagels and begin to take very large bites, lick their fingers and wipe their lips with napkins. Exact look alikes from my seat by the fireplace. They didn't talk until their bagels were down to crumbs. I wondered if they were twins as I watched their jaws move in unison. So I discretely stared. No, one was older. I couldn't see her face, but there were signs.


Older: black slacks and gray cardigan
Younger: hip-hugger jeans, studded belt, layered black striped shirt over gray sweater that showed some cleveage

Older: medium-to-large black shoulder bag
Younger: small black shoulder bag

Older: black leather dress boots
Younger: tan suede construction boots

Older: short hair, softly permed, dishwater blonde
Younger: short hair, spiky and moussed, lightened blonde

Older: small pierced earrings
Younger: dangle pierced earrings

Older: tasteful make-up but no mascara
Younger: tasteful make-up with mascara

Older: coffee in a china cup
Younger: poofy, fluffy drink in a paper cup

When I got up to leave I could glimpse their profiles. Their noses were shaped differently, but I decided they were mother and daughter, ages probably about 38 and 16 and very good friends.

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Monday, January 10, 2005


At the coffee shop this morning I wanted to say to the stunning woman dressed in a black, straight long skirt with a side slit, black boots, charcoal turtle neck and charcoal sweater-jacket, "You are the best dressed woman I've seen in weeks." Even her black hair was meticulously tousled.

It was casual chic, but oh so pleasant to the eyes. But she reached into her black leather brief case, and pulled out her black cell phone, so I didn't interrupt this vision of "all-put-togetherness." It's days like this that I miss my daughter-in-law.

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Friday, January 07, 2005

Late for work

The clerk at the coffee shop told me today (Friday) she'd been late to work every day this week. She's supposed to start at 6 a.m., but didn't get to work until 6:10. I've supervised enough people in my work life to see a problem

Bad work habits and excuses do not ever fool a supervisor. We've heard every story from alarm clocks to a tear in my slacks, to a sick baby to a traffic jam. Actually, I've heard some fairly imaginative ones, but didn't believe a word.

The solution is always the same for the employee who wants to move ahead to a better job, or keep the one she/he has. Whether a bakery clerk, an auto tech, or a library assistant, always plan to arrive early--15 minutes is good. That way you can handle the dog throwing up or the malfunctioning traffic light. And if you actually do arrive early, straighten up your clothes, comb your hair, wash your hands and turn on that smile. And don't ever kid yourself that coming in 15 minutes early on Thursday makes up for being 15 minutes late on Friday.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

New Year's Resolution

While picking up my refill at the coffee shop this morning, I asked the young female clerk if she was making any resolutions for the new year (I was probably the 100th customer to make this inane smalltalk). She thought for a moment, then said, "No, I'm pretty satisfied with my life the way it is." Refreshing.

I'll probably make no resolutions for the whole year, but a few just for January. The usual: lose the weight I picked up in the fall (I'm like a squirrel); clean out some files; try to meet those commitments I made a few months back for the writing class, art workshop, church, etc; and tackle clutter.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

New notebook and Jalepeno for the New Year

Finding an open coffee shop on New Year's day wasn't easy. Our streets were swaddled in fog--the only cars I saw seemed to also be people cruising for a coffee shop. Finally, I landed at White Castle, where the cheery, pleasant Asian woman took my order in barely understandable English. I could hear the drive-through orders. Didn't know that some people order 5 jalepeno cheese burgers for breakfast.

Looking through my notebook that I take with me in the morning to the coffee shop, I noticed a number of stories that seemed to disappear from the newspapers and TV after the election. I have a new notebook, fresh and ready for the New Year, but I feel like I’m letting these stories dangle.

1) Flu shots. Miraculously, either they came back on the market, or the press stopped blaming George Bush.
2) Swift vets. Wasn’t Kerry going to sue them? Weren’t they going to pursue the missing records?
3) Poverty in Ohio. Suburban poverty. Lines at food banks.
4) Outsourcing of jobs.
5) The worst economy since the Depression. All of a sudden, within a week of the election, all we were hearing was good economic news. Amazing--a one week turn around.
6) Tort reform--will the Republicans stay on top of this or was it only to defeat Edwards?
7) The Iraq explosives cache that got moved in 2003.
8) Tuition price controls.
9) Entertainers and writers who plan to emigrate to Canada or Europe.
10) Supposed abuses of the Patriot Act.