Coffee Spills

What I hear and see and think about at the coffee shops I patronize.
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Sunday, February 27, 2005

Next time, use the drive-thru

She coughed all the way from the parking lot to the coffee shop door. Into her hand. No hanky or tissue. She opened the door with that hand. She put that hand on the counter while she gave her order to the clerk. She used that hand to pull out her credit card and hand it to the clerk. She walked around the counter and started coughing again, laying that hand on the pick-up area, and on the creamer bottle. She picked up her cup, coughed into her other hand, and used it to push open the door from the inside.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Y'all is spreading north and west

Many of the regulars were missing at the coffee shop yesterday so I chatted briefly with Dave. After a few minutes I asked him if he were a native to this area, and he assured me he'd grown up in our city and had lived in this suburb since 1965. He sounded a bit southern, or maybe West Virginian to me, but maybe he just sounds Ah-hi-en and it's me that sounds funny, having grown up in "downstate" Illinois (i.e., not Chicago).

Apparently southern expressions are moving north. Y'all is creeping up on us'ns.

"Ever since English lost the second person singular "thou," it has relied on the pronoun "you" to act as both singular and plural. English speakers have improvised ways to avoid ambiguity in the plural: in the Northeast, "youse" or "youse guys"; around Pittsburgh "yunz" or "yinz," a contraction of "you-ones"; in the South, "y'all," a contraction — or "fusion" as Bailey and Tillery say — of "you-all"; and finally "you guys."

But "you guys" feels awkward to certain segments of the population, says Joan Houston Hall, chief editor of the Dictionary of American Regional English. A term that gained popularity in the 1960s, it still sounds inappropriately familiar to some elderly ears, she says, and some women are uncomfortable with the masculine gender implied by "guys." "Y'all" elegantly resolves all these concerns." Houston Chronicle story. Tip from Language Feed.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Words in the mirror

Do you sometimes hear yourself in the voices of other people? This morning at the coffee shop a woman and young girl--maybe about 9 or 10--sat at the next table. The girl took her seat first and the mother (I assume) brought the drinks and a bagel to share. Here's what I overheard:

"Come on, come on."
"Hurry up."
"Don't dawdle."
"Let's get going here."

The girl didn't say anything--and this was all said in about 90 seconds. Then the mother pulled out some papers--I thought she was doing some office work, but I think from the conversation she was grading her daughter's spelling. She continued:

"Come on."
"Don't worry about that"
"Zip up your coat."

What a way to start the day--for both of them. I think I'll call my 30-something kids and apologize.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Finding coffee in Bradenton

Like Indianapolis, Bradenton, FL is coffee-shop-impaired. We were able to find one Starbucks right off Cortez Road and one "coming soon" sign within a 30 minute drive of the RV Park. The winter months are busy times--Florida drivers are quite aggressive and the snow-birds are sometimes distractable, so going for coffee each day was a challenge. I'd buy a cup when we were out and save it for the next morning.

One day, the shop was out of coffee! So the clerk didn't make me pay for it because I had to wait 4 minutes.