Complicated Coffee…I Just Want A Medium Black

by Barb Day

photo by Marcie Schwindt

It was morning, and I needed my caffeine. The long and winding line of rumbling metal snaked from the drive-through window across the parking lot. Why do people wait in this never-ending lineup for coffee when they could simply make a pot at home for a fraction of the cost? I counted fifteen cars in front of me. Better than yesterday, when there were eighteen. This was a dangerous place to be. What if a car broke down? Once in that line up, there’s no getting out. You’re blocked in by cars and concrete curbs. I wouldn’t want to be the one to have the breakdown, when behind me were a bunch of grouchy people who haven’t had their morning coffee and are now wedged in with no escape and no caffeine. I patted the dashboard of my old Chevy. Keep running, baby. We’re almost there. My thoughts were interrupted, as a crackling voice took my order. “That will be $1.52 for a medium black. Drive forward,” the crackling instructed.

A mechanical window opened, and a hand reached out of the window. I gave the hand a five dollar bill. The hand grabbed the money, and the window closed. No personal touch, no smiling face, this was an assembly line. The window came up, and the coffee came out, but no change came out of the window.

“And my change?” I inquired.

Suddenly, the personal touch appeared. A face to be feared poked out of the window.

“I gave you your change” the miserable face snapped.

“No, I didn’t get my change!”

What a racket, rumpus, commotion, hullaboo, uproar, fuss, upheaval, ado, bother, kerfuffle…just for a coffee! I was steaming, more so than the paper cup in my hand, as I sped away.

The next day I decided I had had enough of the drive-through. I decided to try one of those upscale coffee shops. I will strut around with my paper cup in my hand. A status symbol! I’ll be a somebody!

As I waited in a line-up to the door, I glanced at the intimidating board with all its extravagant selections. I fumbled through my pockets. I was definitely going to need more than $1.52 this morning. Wow, this place wasn’t cheap! I was confused. I am not a coffee connoisseur. I have limited knowledge. The selections on the board became more daunting the longer I stared at them. I was getting close to the front of the line, but still didn’t have a clue what to ask for. I could hear a lady ordering.

“I’ll have a Café Mocha, hold the syrup, add white chocolate, triple shot of expresso, non-fat steamed milk, lightly sprinkled with cocoa powder to go.”
It suddenly felt very warm in the coffee shop. I started to sweat. Don’t worry, I told myself. She’s a regular.

Next up was a man. “I’ll have a Chocolate Chip Frappacino, extra chocolate, topped with a dollop of whipped cream.”

Would you like a coffee with that, I wondered, as I desperately searched for additional change.

The customer ahead of me was ordering now. “Half café, grande, soy, double shot on ice, and make it quick I’m in a hurry.

I was next in line. I panicked! Should I memorize something impressive or embarrass myself by ordering a medium black? “Do you have herbal tea?“ I mumbled.

The young man at the counter appeared as if he had just stepped out of the pages of GQ and into his uniform with adorable matching cap. He was very dramatic as he rattled off the selections. “Cranberry, Black Cherry, Echinaccea, Eucalyptus, European Blueberry, Cinnamon, Mandarin, Ginger, Ginsing, Jasmine, Peppermint, Pomegranate, Peach Passion or how about a Wildberry Zinger!”
I bolted from the establishment. In my car, I sped to Walmart to buy a coffeemaker. I will join the ranks of Martha Stewart, June Cleaver and Susie Homemaker. I will make my own damn coffee! I am woman. Hear me roar! But there will be no roaring until I’ve had my caffeine, of course. Medium black!


Barb Day, current CWC President, lives in Paris, Ontario with her husband and daughter. A Writing for Publication graduate of Mohawk College, Barb’s short stories frequently appear in local publications like “Daytripping”. Come out and see her on the third Friday of every month as she hosts an open mic poetry night at Coffee Culture in Brantford.

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3 responses to “Complicated Coffee…I Just Want A Medium Black

  1. Lee Anne Johnston

    Good one as usual Barb!

  2. Love it, and so true!!

  3. Well said Barb. Cheers!

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