Monday, September 18, 2017


(A trio of noticings, none substantially sufficient for solo attention but all of them (hopefully) meriting their abbreviated moment in the blogatorial sun.

(Rhyming Irrelevance:  A family friend’s factory in Canada produced a chocolate chip confection called Chippets.”)

(A Worrying Apprehension:  I am currently engaged in an “audiobook” entitled A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles in which every word is so meticulously selected that, if I am infected with that stylistic contagion –otherwise known as excellent writing – I fear I will never finish anything again.  I can’t tell you how long it took me to write that sentence, so… oh no!  It’s starting!)


Eddie Izzard’s memoir, Believe Me, which I just finished listening to, includes his “Theory of the Universe” in which Izzard hypothesizes that the universe bends in on itself, returning inevitably to where it had previously begun.

I believe I have personal experiences, indicating that I and my immediate family members – if Izzard’s theory holds verifiable water – demonstrably resonate with the universe.

To wit,

Most recently, concerning daughter Anna and her mother – and get ready to find this shockingly remarkable –

Anna, who is currently pregnant, bought a house and is now supervising the thorough remodeling of it, almost literally from the ground up.

Anna’s mother, Dr. M, supervised the thorough remodeling of our house, almost literally from the ground up, when she herself was pregnant with Anna.

Two – Anna and me…

When I was twenty-one years old, I spent a year (16 months, actually) living in London.  When she was twenty-one years old, Anna – with no encouragement from myself – spent her “Junior” year of college, living in London.

Three – Me and me…(are you getting shivers yet?)

My first writing job was writing personal essays in the newspaper.  Bending back from the beginning, after a 35-year professional career, I am now finishing up writing personal essays on the Internet.
One example is easily dismissible, but three?  Amateur-student-of-the-Universe Eddie Izzard may be seriously on to something.  (End of “Izzardian” tidbit.)
On my last visit to Groundwork Coffee Co for my weekly Venice Blend pour-over, I notice that the “coffista” behind the counter is two to three decades older than anyone else working in the emporium, which was fine except for the purplish-pink streaks in her hair, which to my taste is less so but that’s not what this is about.  As far as I am concerned, there is – and should be – no age barrier for mutilating your hair.


I put in my order, I pay my four dollars, I slip a dollar into the “Tip Jar.”  So far, so yawn-worthy.

It is then I hear the (matronly by contrast) woman who took my Venice Blend pour-over order confide, in a recognizably whiny cadence,

“I don’t know how to do-oo-oo that.”

To which, I chime in,

“Why don’t you ask somebody to teach you?”

Which she apparently does.

Moments later, standing off to the side awaiting my order to be processed, in a shuffling gait totally consistent with her unwelcome whine, I notice the woman who took my order, meander slowly over to the coffee bean bins, trying to unlatch the door to the requested Venice Blend cabinet, and repeatedly failing to accomplish the tast.  Finally working it out, she then begins transferring the amount of beans consistent with preparing a single serving of Venice Blend pour-over into a paper bag, when she suddenly realizes,

(WHINING TO NO ONE IN PARTICULAR):  “There’s not enough beeeeans heeeeere.”

She then shuffles back to the counter where a co-worker rescuingly commandeers the assignment and quickly finishes the job.

I am not an habitual joiner of clubs.  The thing is, however, with the advancing years, you are lumped into the “No Longer Young” club whether you personally want to be, or not. 

I have to acknowledge, as I did then to myself though not entirely without guilt, that   I was not happy seeing a member of “my club” acting frighteningly ineffectually.  Her defeatist demeanor made all of us look bad.  I imagined myself in a similar predicament, vowing that, feeling anxiously challenged by unfamiliar responsibilities, for me and my senescing cohort, I would try really hard to do better.)
This one, I do not get.

While awaiting my coffee order to be completed, I take note of other Groundwork customers, paying with a credit card.


It’s, like, four dollars.  Who doesn’t have four dollars in cash?

“I only carry three dollars in my wallet.  In case of a hold-up.”

“And that’s helpful, you think, to avoid hold-ups?”

“Oh yes.  It’s like, ‘Give me your money!”  ‘I only have three dollars.’  ‘Oh, then.  Forget it.’”

So there’s that.  Who knows?  Maybe they require “Proof of Purchase” for tax purposes, though I do not readily perceive “Coffee” as a “business expense.”  I hear radical “Tax Reform” is on the way, leaving the chance that that “deduction” may be subsequently included.  Possibly retroactively.  And then they’ve got the receipts!

Here’s the thing, though.

They take your order, they “ring up” your charges – betraying a revealing “cash register” reference – and then they flip the screen around, for your confirming signature.

It is then that I detect the most perplexing behavior.

People sign, not with their actual signatures, but with indecipherable squiggles.  A minimalist ”finger dance” across the computer screen.  And that’s it.

My question is, how does that indeterminate squiggle in any way indicate it’s them?

And, more curiously, how is their casual squiggle differentiated from anyone else’s?

I have to admit, there have been times, standing by someone, rendering the equivalent of an “EKG”-machine response that I could not keep from blurting,

“That’s my signature!”

And you know what?  To my embarrassment and discomfort, not to mention astonished surprise…

They never “get” it.

Well, those are my snippets, which rhymes with “Chippets.”  See you next time with, hopefully, a fully-actualzied story.  (Unless I can’t think of one, and then it’s
“Scavenging for Chippets.”  Sorry, I mean, snippets.)


JED said...

Concerning the whining coffista: My experience is that this doesn't develop with age. If this person had worked in a coffee shop, or a diner, two to three decades ago, there would still be a helpless person there that didn't know how to help you.

frank said...

Purple hair people always make me tinge.