Thursday, July 30, 2009


I like coffee. I like it brewed in the American style, not espresso. I like it hot or iced and with some cream. I do like Café au Lait in the manner in which my sainted aunt Louise made it now and again, but my normal beverage of choice is coffee.

So on a warmish summer morning a few weeks back I pulled up to my local McDonald's drive-through and, in a loud, clear and well enunciated voice I say, "Coffee, iced, with half and half. No sweetener, no flavoring ingredients except for coffee. In the cup I would like ice, coffee and half and half – that is all."

There is a pause on the other end of the speaker. "Uh." Another pause follows. "What kind of syrup would you like in that?"

I do not mind clarifying questions – it is evidence that my order will be correct when it finally arrives, so I encourage them. "I would like no syrup nor sweetener of any type, thank you; just a cup of coffee on ice with some cream."

"So, you want plain?"

"Exactly! Plain is what I want. I want coffee-flavored coffee in a large plastic cup and with a bit of half and half in it, all poured over a volume of icy-cold ice. That is all. Plain as can be!"

"Err." Another pause followed. "OK. One large plain iced coffee. That will be $3.20 at the first window. Thank you."

They got it! I was pleased and eagerly anticipating my perfectly concocted cup of coffee. I pulled around to the payment station and parted with my hard-earned coin, then pulled forward to my waiting coffee. The cup was shoved at my face with a straw grasped in the same hand, I got a bonus "thank you" and the window snapped shut.

There was a line behind me, but I took a second to insert the straw into my sacred morning beverage to get that first sip. . .

And it was sweet.

I knocked on the service window and the service provider behind it shoved a bag that smelled of trans-fats and despair at me. I spoke around it, "That is not mine. . . I wanted coffee with no sweetener in it."

"It says on the screen that you want your ice coffee plain. That is plain."

"I specified that I wanted it with nothing in the coffee but cream."

"No ice?"

"Yes, ice! I want cold coffee, half and half over ice in a large plastic cup."

"No sweetener?"

"No. No sweetener."

"Do you want some sugar or artificial sweetener packets with that?"

"No, thank you. The coffee will do."

I did, eventually, get my coffee.

Our friend Michy sent this video to my darling wife and me. It reminded me so much of me that I spit iced coffee with half and half and no sweetener all over my screen. Do not play this around the young or the easily offended.