My Starbucks Moment


This morning I was forced to stop into Starbucks so I wouldn’t die by drinking the flavored coffee we had in the house. It is a disgusting hazelnut blend that gave me a headache yesterday with its artifical flavorings, so I scraped a couple dollars out of the change box in the car and stopped at the coffeehouse.

Normally, I have no human interaction in the morning. (I don’t count my kids, who are admittedly subhuman in the mornings and can only grunt in reaction to stimuli.) Perhaps this is why I am so attuned to odd little scenes playing out around me. Or, probably, this is why I’m a writer.

There was an older lady using a walker getting coffee. A chipper young woman near the creamer helped her out. Then the lady behind me in the longish line leaped over to hold the door for her. The lady wore a skintight aqua workout top and shorts, but was not sweaty, so I thought she must be on her way to work out.

A man in oversized khaki pants and a big long-sleeved top snaked the workout lady’s spot in line. He wore glasses and a floppy hat and looked more like he had been out in the fog than out in Hawaii. I was about to protest his snaking, but it turns out he knew her.

They chatted about their kids’ schools and asked about mutual friends. “You’re a nice woman, helping that lady,” he told her.

Not nice enough for you to get out of her spot, I thought.

Then the payoff: he offered to buy her a drink. Ah-ha! That’s why he took her place in line. He’s making his move.

She refused, a look of distress passing over her pretty face. “No thank you. I’m fine.”

“You sure?”

She bought her own drink.

Ah, the drama.

The other little item that happened was a woman in front of me ordered some sort of foamy complex drink with nonfat milk. I thought she must be watching her calories. I felt a bit scrutinized when I took the lid off my coffee and poured in my cream in front of her. Then she reached over me for three packets of sugar and then the half and half. A three second pour.

Such things entertain me.

Might I add that their Via instant coffee tastes an awful lot like instant. After all these years of telling us we need to have freshly ground beans from far-off places, I could have just been drinking Taster’s Choice or Folger’s like my grandma.

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

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