a series in which our local correspondent attempts to purchase a cup of coffee without incident—and fails.
Listen, I had a good run on the coffee spots. You know why? Because I went to Starbucks for my coffee, that’s why. However, I’m beginning to think that I’m bad luck, or that I summon bad coffee juju from the universe to come down upon me just when I think I’m on my way.
I’m a man from the north country. Pittsburgh, to be exact. I’ve lived in Atlanta 20 years, but that’s where I’m from. Now I don’t know what the hell you all think we run around doing in Pittsburgh. Probably that we’re all rough, tough, ‘n hard to bluff steelworkers with push-broom mustaches or some blasted thing. But let me tell you something: we know how to act, dammit.
So, I’m in Castleberry Hill. It’s a cold, desolate day—too damn cold, though I’d never admit it to my friends back up north—but I had to meet a friend later in the morning for a work thing over a cuppa. I arrive a bit early to warm up and enjoy a few moments of peace and quiet, relaxing alone with my thoughts.
I walk in the door and up to the counter, and I regurgitate my previously explained spiel that I mentioned in my last tirade. I order my coffee, Cafe au Lait. I was in a sentimental mood, I guess. Not for long.
The lady at the counter charges me $3.78. “Hang on,” I say to her. “$3.78 for coffee and milk?”
She sighs like a hipster who was told that the world was going to end, “Yes, that’s the price”—pauses a beat—”Well, I’ll give you a dollar back.” I don’t know what to think about that answer. Was she agreeing that the price sucks but is going to cut me a deal? She then pulls a dollar from the register and slaps it on the counter. “I thought you wanted a Café de Olla.”
First off: what the fuck is a Café de Olla? Second, I look up and see that the Café de Olla is $2.95. “Hold on,” I say. “How do you get $3.78? That equals 83 cents in tax.” I used to wait tables so I’m fast with the number. Lotta good it does me here.
“It’s like a latte. I charged you for a latte. But I gave you a dollar back… So there…” She speaks with her hands all of a sudden. She’s flippant and one more hand gesture away from giving me the finger. And all I can think is “Café de Olla? More like Café de Oh Yeah That’ll Be 4 Bucks.”
I can’t say this, of course—because I need to make it to this meeting without getting strangled beforehand, but also because this is supposed to be the relaxing part of my day, and it’s getting ruined by needless bullshit antagonism.
Look, no one expects modern-day Atlantans to be falling over themselves gushing with Bless-Your-Heart Southern Hospitality. And I know that plenty of us aren’t even from here. But we can still be civil, can’t we? You know, we’re living in a society.
Regardless, I don’t think I ever want to come back to this gaudy joint. Why should I? To get ripped off and then be told to fuck off? But I’m the asshole, right? Maybe someday I’ll get it right.