Find the Usual

"The usual?!" cheerfully asked the barista as the woman behind me entered the cramped but trendy Tribeca coffee shop. I started going there every afternoon for either a small coffee or a flat white, but I’d never received such a reception from any of the counter people.

"You got it!" answered the customer just as buoyantly.

The barista began crafting whatever beverage it was, but after a moment the customer chimed in:

"Iced though."

The barista stopped but didn’t drop her smile:

"Oh iced? Sure."

She dumped the cup’s contents into the sink, grabbed a plastic cup, and scooped some ice. The customer chimed in again:

"And large."

I was just putting a cover on my coffee and grabbing a napkin, but I slowed down to listen to this exchange. The barista now labored to keep her initial exuberance:

"So, a large iced cappuccino right?"

The customer nodded with a smile, but then added:

"Yes, but just a coffee today."

"OK large iced coffee coming up!" said the barista, and she impressively set off on the drink without missing a beat or even a sigh.

As I walked out, I got a good look at the customer - a smiling, well-dressed 60-year-old who was too caught up in the excitement of being remembered and celebrated to realize she wasn’t getting what she really wanted.

We’ll all be there one day.