All Kevin Page wanted was a nice coffee for the trip. Photo / 123rf
The other day Mrs P and I were getting ready to go and meet friends for a drink.
As is my habit I dressed rather casually in T-shirt and shorts and plonked my fave
pair of sandals on my feet.
The look my beloved gave me as I emerged from the bedroom suggested a hint of disapproval in my chosen level of casualness.
I was right.
For once, she said, why don’t I put on that nice pair of shorts she likes me in (obviously my bum looks good in them) and a collared shirt? I figured it wasn’t a biggie. Plus she promised me I could get a nice coffee for the drive if I did.
Quickly I changed and went back out to the lounge where she handed me a pair of canvas slip-on shoes. The sort you wear without socks. Apparently my old sandals would ruin the ensemble so I stuck them on too.
I’ll try to explain the shoes a bit better. I can’t remember buying them but I think I’ve had them years. They used to be called boat shoes or something like that. Which is kind of ironic since I’ve never owned a boat and the Interislander ferry is the closest I’ve ever come to being on a proper one.
Anyway, I’m sure you get the picture. Nice pair of casual shoes to go with a nice shirt and nice pair of shorts. All ready for a nice catch up with friends.
And so, exceedingly spruced up and looking like some cool dude from one of the Hallensteins ads, I hit the road with my beloved.
Naturally the first port of call, particularly after the aforementioned promise, was the nearest BP Wild Bean where the aromatic delights of a single origin flat white coffee awaited Yours Truly.
It is here a young fellow enters our story. I’m calling him Bean Boy.
Now I’m not sure if it was his first day on the job but if enthusiasm was anything to go by I’d say it was.
Obviously, in this day and age, getting anybody to join your staff is a pretty good result but finding someone as keen as the proverbial mustard – and I mean literally hopping from one foot to the other with excitement – would be a bonus with a capital B in my experience.
Anyway, as Mrs P waited in the car I strode into my favourite coffee haven and made my way to the counter.
Bean Boy greeted me with a huge smile.
It disappeared about two seconds later as I explained I wanted a coffee and no, I had not purchased any petrol.
I was left with the distinct impression all his training thus far had been in handling just fuel purchases. My coffee request had placed him in something of a no-man’s land and he stared back blankly at me as I waited for him to ask the standard follow up question: Did I have a coffee card – one of those buy 43 get one free sort of things – and whether I’d like to swipe it.
Just as the silence was threatening to overflow from “long” to “awkward” one of his workmates popped up and showed him which buttons to push and what to write on the empty coffee cup.
He was a quick learner and soon had the task nailed. That’s when Issue No 2 arose.
Now this was most likely my fault. Actually, scrub that. It was my fault.
As you know I don’t possess an eftpos card and the only thing I had in my wallet – besides moths and a picture of Mrs P looking rather fetching (Read: Phwoar!!!) was a $100 note. And so I handed it over with an apology that I had nothing smaller.
Once again the smile disappeared.
Oh no. They must have trained him up on dealing with cash, haven’t they?
It turns out they had but unlike myself most of the clients he’d seen that day had a comparatively modern outlook on life and had all just zapped some bit of plastic or other and shot through without any requirement for change.
Still, he accepted the challenge with vigour, took the $100 note and proceeded to work out the change on the $5.90 I had spent.
Unfortunately it took a while. He had to raid a couple of other tills behind the counter and presumably the shoebox out the back where they keep tips, etc. Eventually I got my change – all in $5 notes – and I moved aside and went to stand in front of the coffee machine as Bean Boy moved on to the next customer.
By this time there were a few and the lady who had previously been making coffee left her station and went over to assist.
I’d be standing there 10 minutes or so wondering what was happening to my coffee when she saw me.
“Are you waiting for something?” she asked, with a look that suggested she knew the answer and there’d been a bit of a hiccup in the usually smooth-running operation.
As I explained I was waiting for my single origin flat white she flushed with embarrassment and held up the cup still sitting on the counter next to Bean Boy on the adjacent till.
Regular caffeine consumers at Wild Bean will know orders can be taken at the main till. Details are added to the exterior of the cup which is then transported to the coffee makers who do their thing. In this particular instance, Bean Boy had forgotten to deliver the cup to the end of the production line.
Profound apologies were offered as the error was realised but I wasn’t too bothered. I mean 10 minutes isn’t a lifetime is it? I still enjoyed the interaction.
Unfortunately, Bean Boy appears to have got a little bit of a telling off from the boss and was demoted as the coffee makers put my cuppa together. As I waited, I saw him trudging out to the forecourt where clean up duties awaited him.
Oh well. I guess we all have to start somewhere, I thought, recalling tales of apprentices who had been sent for 44 gallon drums of elbow grease or other such items for a laugh. To be honest I liked the kid. I was confident he’d bounce back.
I mean what else could happen?
Eventually I got my cuppa and walked out of the servo, back to Mrs P still waiting patiently in the car. I had an interesting little tale to tell her.
As I neared the edge of the building unseen by anyone around the corner, a jet of water from a garden hose shot out and drenched my fancy shoes. The timing could not have been more perfect.
And there, stammering an apology, and with the hose still dripping like a smoking gun, was Bean Boy who had been told to go and wash down the footpath and who was probably going to have nightmares forever about the casually dressed guy with the fancy shoes who ruined his first day at work.