by Dawn Pisturino
“Coffee, please – a large macchiato with a double shot of espresso.”
The owner of the coffee bar shuddered and made a face. “I detest the stuff, myself, but . . . shhh,” she said, holding her finger to her lips, “don’t tell anybody. After all, I make my living selling the stuff.”
The man in front of the counter looked at her in dismay. “Not like coffee! Who doesn’t like coffee?” He turned toward the other customers in the shop. Waving his hand at the barista he said, “Have you ever heard of such nonsense? She says she hates coffee!”
All chatter suddenly stopped. Customers plunked down their coffee cups and stared at the woman behind the counter.
A middle-aged businesswoman in a stylish pink designer suit stood up and pointed her finger. “I couldn’t make it through the day without my coffee. How dare you disparage something I need!” Tears brightened her angry eyes. She picked up her Gucci handbag and departed in a huff.
Grabbing his backpack, a freckled university student with tousled red hair and black-rimmed eyeglasses cried, “Don’t you care about the poor Colombian coffee pickers? How will they feed their families if we don’t drink coffee? How dare you condemn them to starvation, lady!” Angrily, he followed the pink lady out of the store.
Twin girls, wearing identical red berets on their curly blonde heads, waved their cell phones in the air. One of them said, “Nous aimons le café! We like coffee! Coffee at breakfast with brioche. Coffee at lunch with quiche. Coffee at dinner with veal. C’est magnifique! Coffee is life itself. You Americans are so boorish and crude. You know nothing about living the good life. Thank God, we’re flying home to Paris tonight.” The girls linked arms and, noses up in the air, strolled toward the exit.
The shop owner watched in horror as the rest of the customers picked up their coffee cups, stood up, and slowly advanced toward her. Cringing under their menacing glares, she crossed her arms over her face just in time to protect it from the hot liquid that flew across the counter and doused her arms and the front of her uniform.
“And next time, you’ll get worse!” someone snarled. Patrons flipped her the bird as they filed by and pushed through the front door.
Bewildered, the shop owner picked up a wet towel and began to cry.