Jerry’s head throbbed, overrun by a lemon meringue donut. He was relaxed once, he thought, not realizing it was as recent as thirty minutes ago, before the sugar and coffee took free rein. The once measured call for a decaf americano now rang out with annoyance. Did they have to shout? Jerry looked around the voluminous establishment, music blaring, conversations animated, and the clunk of every cup on a saucer irritating. Yes.
Perched close to the cash register there was an opportunity to watch someone else’s neurosis. The line up grew as every question about drip coffee could be asked. Could they taste the drip coffee before they ordered, could they get different drip coffee, where and how was it roasted, and was it grown and harvested by a leprechaun with three hands who had a penchant for Keats.
Jerry needed the bathroom, but was gripped by this person unable to order coffee in a coffee shop.
The questioning didn’t seem to bother the woman waiting next in line. Saved by her mobile, a three hundred mile an hour conversation deflected her every need, she would soon forget why she was standing in line at all. The two men after her were not so impressed, their backs curling like hyenas, exchanging glances that missed each other. For fuck sake, it’s a cup of coffee.
Jerry was inclined to agree, but there was something magnetic about the pursuit of information.
This person, if it was a person, because they seemed like they were from another planet who had never drunk coffee before, appeared to be testing the staff. God, Jerry thought, was this a foodie off range? A cofficianado? Get one of a myriad of questions wrong and they’ll whimper about the establishment on Yelp?
Still, there was something to be said for androgynous as they not so much held their ground as anchored themselves to the concrete floor. If I want the other drip coffee, I have to come back tomorrow? Yes, tomorrow is a different drip coffee. So I can’t try that today, and this other coffee, will it have less liquorice butternut toffee aromas and hints of lemon verbena than this one? That’s a pour over. Can I try a sample?
Androgynous must have hailed from a city where they give samples to customers. Jerry saw it now, how provincial we were, how our coffee scene was on the precipice of being slandered as third rate because you couldn’t get samples. Jerry had a business idea, a microbrew coffeehouse, an idea that wouldn’t last beyond a visit to the bathroom as he thought about coffee and lemon verbena that seemed so 2003.
Jerry returned to the table and to the next customer in line who managed to switch off her phone before ordering, but a virus had spread. She pointed at the menu and asked, do you make that here?