Today was a typical Chicago winter day. Hundreds of people were stranded at O'Hare. It's been snowing nonstop since yesterday. The main thoroughfares have been plowed and salted so often there's a grayish layer of grime piling up along the edges of the roadways.
The morning began with the temperature hovering around a balmy 30-something. I actually heard a woman walking into the grocery store say, "It's almost like spring."
Of course that was all the weather peeps needed to unleash a batch of freezing rain. Then morph it into snow, while simultaneously dropping the temperature into single digits by the end of the day. You know you're not in Miami when the meteorologist at the local FOX station is named Amy FREEZE.
In the middle of our latest weather adventure, I needed to stop at one of my local Starbuck's around noon to get some hefty gift cards for my well caffeinated family. Having learned from past mistakes with gift cards, I asked for three separate receipts, one to include with each card. I started doing this for two reasons: 1) the cards are for people who live in different parts of the world -- always a good reason for each person to have his or her own receipt. 2} if necessary, the receipts can confirm the exact amount of money that was supposed to be put on the card, since baristas have been known to forget this step of the transaction.
Entering the correct amount of money onto the card requires an electronic transaction, which, by my calculation, has a one in four chance of getting screwed up by someone, i.e., the person waiting on me at Starbuck's. So I always try to insure that there's plenty of backup for any mistakes that may occur.
The first thing I noticed when I stepped up to the counter today was that the young barista waiting on me was wearing a gold earring in his left ear. I have nothing against earrings on men, although I'm inclined to prefer nekkid lobes. The earring obviously affected his brain function since he handed me the three gift cards with only one receipt.
"I believe I asked for three separate receipts."
Without a word he produced three separate receipts and handed them to me with the three cards. Actually I think it would be more accurate to say he tossed them at me.
"May I have a bag to put these in, please?" So I don't find a gift card stuck between the seats sometime in March.
Again, without a word, he took the gift cards and the receipts and put them into the smallest bag Starbuck's has -- enough for a single serving of pound cake. The gift cards could easily fall out and the bag was so small I might toss it when I cleaned out the car.
I looked at him and said, "I just spent a whole lot of money here buying gift cards, so do you think you could spare a bag with a handle on it?"
The mute barista gave me a look that signified death by strangulation, but managed to produce a slightly larger bag with handles and dumped the other bag into it.
I took a deep breath, managed a smile, and said in my most obsequious voice, "Thank you so-o-o-o much." He had already turned to walk away, but my thank you was so over the top he couldn't help but look back at me.
So I assured him, "Just kidding."
Hmmm, it sure feels good to spread some holiday cheer.