A customer felt they didn’t get enough milk in their coffee. Then Kevin Page decided to stick his nose in. Photo / 123rf
This week I stumbled across what is politely known as a “First World problem”.
I’ll get to exactly what happened shortly, but to the uninitiated among you, a First World problem is something like
having a wardrobe full of clothes but nothing to wear or no Wi-Fi. These are distinct from the significantly more serious problems like a complete lack of food or access to any medical care which tend to befall the less fortunate nations, aka the Third World.
I’m sure you get the picture.
So. To the story at hand.
Several mornings a week I like to grab myself a nice coffee before I start the day. My favoured location is the BP Wild Bean nearby, which I have been frequenting for some years now. And yes, I’m still hoping one day they will come up with a free-coffee-for-life card for all these mentions.
Anyway. I go down to the BP and wouldn’t you know it, it’s packed and I can’t wait. I’m on a bit of a tight schedule.
When such instances arise, I whip across the road to a little café run by a friendly bloke who speaks smattering of the English language. We are at the stage now where I walk through the door and he shouts the same greeting with a cheery smile each time.
And it’s the same this week as I walk in. There are four other people in the café at the same time. It’s not very big. At the counter is little guy (henceforth to be known as Angry Man – you may know him) who’s obviously having a bad morning. It would be fair to say he’s, well, being a bit of an arsehole.
“Not enough milk,” he’s grumpily telling my mate behind the counter.
Unfortunately, and I think it was the tone in which it was being delivered, the message was not getting through and both parties were getting a little flustered.
“Not enough milk!” Angry Man, at the end of his tether – a very short one, I’m thinking – says again, quite forcefully.
The puzzled expression coming back to him from the other side of the counter does little to resolve the situation or calm him down, so he picks up his coffee from the counter, turns on his heel and starts to go.
As he does, he tells the rest of us in the café, in his own inimitable style, he’s not impressed with the service or the fact he’s only got 23 millilitres of milk when 25 millilitres would have made him a lot more likeable and less of a prat. Or something like that.
A quick aside here. I’m fully aware some people struggle with anger management for whatever reason and are doing their best to get on top of it. That is to be applauded. No judgement is intended here. This is just a snapshot of my day, and a little micro-moment in our society. It happens.
Anyway. That’s where I got involved. Or as Mrs P would say, that’s where I stuck my big nose in.
Now, I don’t know why I did, but I did. I could try to come across noble and say I was trying to protect the café owner from being abused, but the absolute truth of it all was I thought the situation was quite funny and I was trying not to laugh.
So I opened my big mouth. Sort of.
As Angry Man made his way past me on the way to the door, I muttered: “First World problem, mate.”
Oops. Maybe I should have known better than to poke the bear.
So now Angry Man has stopped in the doorway, unsuitable milk-deficient coffee in one hand and a pie in the other, and I’m in the firing line.
As I said before, I’m thinking this fellow had had a bad start to the day and he wasn’t in any mood now to put up with some dismissive comment from a smart-alec – albeit with dashing good looks and a smile to match (ahem) – like me.
What followed was an avalanche of four-letter expletives which would have got him on the winner’s podium if there was a Torrent of Abuse championship.
With such an irrational response (I think) to an equally trivial matter, I figured there was no point responding and inflaming the situation further, so I didn’t. Plus, you just never know these days, do you? I may have been a whisker away from getting a bop on the nose.
Anyway, Angry Man departed, still spewing abuse, and for good measure he kicked my car as he went past – as you do. I drive a branded company vehicle and wear the company clothing, so it wouldn’t have been hard for him to put two and two together.
Again, I decided not to respond, and then raced out to check on the damage, just in case. There was none, by the way. I think he might have kicked the tyre by mistake.
From the comparative safety of the café, I watched him walk to his car. Can’t swear to it, but I thought I detected a slight limp. Kicking the industrial-sized tyre of a huge, great ute will do that to you, I guess.
As I waited for my coffee, watching the relief flood back into the face of my mate behind the counter, I started to think about Angry Man and his complaint.
Let’s just hope, unlike our friends in the Third World, he does have access to suitable medical care.
He’d need to get his foot injury fixed and then anger management counselling, perhaps?
I just hope the coffee in their waiting room comes with enough milk.