Black Coffee

Last Sunday, for reasons that don’t need to be talked about on a public forum like this, I really needed a cup of coffee. So I pulled off of the highway and into a McDonalds, which, as you know, sells something mostly resembling the beverage we call “coffee.”

After an excessively long wait in line due to several larger families ordering huge amounts of pre-soccer breakfast items, I got to the counter and ordered my large coffee.

“Would you like that black?” the order-taker asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

She printed out my receipt and pointed me to the spot where people languish while waiting for their orders to be filled. I noticed my receipt had BLACK COFFEE emblazoned on it in large, friendly letters.

Several minutes later ― a wait made longer by the fact that I really needed this particular cup of coffee ― another teenage PBTC looked at my receipt and began to fill my order. She looked stressed and harried, like someone who really didn’t know her way around her work area yet, and like most teenagers took no great pains to verbally and non-verbally express how stressed and harried she was.

She looked over at the coffee station. Two full pots of decaf (orange handle) were sitting on the burners. There was also one almost-empty pot of regular (black handle), the coffee still sloshing a bit from just being set down by another PBTC. My girl looked again, disgustedly, at my clearly-marked receipt and asked me:

“Does it have to be black coffee?”

“Yes,” I replied.

She sighed loudly, reached for the almost-empty black-handled pot, and started to pour.

“Do you need cream and sugar?” she asked. (You’ll recall that McDonalds has recently started offering “gourmet” coffee, which to them means that they’ll add the cream and/or sugar for you at no extra charge ― another thing to stress and harry the PBTCs.)

“No.” I said. Then, because I really really needed the coffee, not-so-patiently explained: “That’s what ‘black’ means: no cream, no sugar.”

She rolled her eyes and fixed me with a glare I suppose she intended to be withering. Then she set my coffee on the counter and turned away.

As I walked away trying to figure out how to open the seamless plastic lid, I heard her yell to her co-workers, “I need more black coffee.”

Well, I thought, that makes two of us.

Post Script:

About 50 miles down the road it suddenly hit me: to this poor, benighted teenage PBTC, “black” coffee is coffee that comes from the pot with the black handle, and has nothing to do with cream and/or sugar.

Caveat emptor: If you are ever traveling in the area of Allenton, Wisconsin and find yourself in need of decaffeinated coffee, make sure to order “orange” coffee, so as not to confuse the locals.