All I wanted was a coffee.
I’m easily irritated, see, aggravated by things that should be simple by definition but get complicated because of human intervention.
Once I was in a doctor’s office — a shrink really — being evaluated for progress during a severe burn-out. The doctor asked me bluntly, “You don’t like people do you?”
Ten years of med school and you just now figure this out? Holy crap, do I hate people; not all of them, and hate may be too harsh. When I find the few smart ones that can garner my attention, it’s all cool. But otherwise, a hopeless species hell-bent on quick and dirty self-satisfaction with no consideration of others … ever. I’m like Agent Smith — I have a load of contempt for my fellow human beings. But I’m already getting off track.
So, here I am at work, running low on caffeine. But the coffee machine won’t cut it. I want a nice Tim Horton’s French Vanilla Cappuccino – or Freedom Vanilla Cappuccino depending on where you live. Not worshipping at the caffeine altar of Tim is simply un-Canadian. So I decide to go to the Tim Horton’s right outside the office where I work. This, in concept, should take a whopping 5 or 6 minutes of my time. So I throw on my winter jacket and head for the elevators.
I should remember the crappy elevator configuration. There’s not enough elevators for the amount of traffic in my building. I get in, press the first floor button and off I go. Not quite. I had to make a milk run on every freaking floor on the way down. And it got full half-way down. But it doesn’t end there. Hell no, that would be too easy. There’s barely space left for one medium sized human being. So what happens on the following floor down? Of course, despite having enough space for a small woman left, three guys with gym bags decide that they’re gonna fit in the elevator. What the fuck? Are they blind? No they’re just stupid, borderline brain-dead and without any consideration they pile in, squishing us to the walls.
Why? Very simple. Like every one who works in my building, they are understandably annoyed by this really bad elevator setup – we all agree on the pointlessness of engineers at this point. Having to wait 5 to 10 minutes for an elevator and getting a full one (and this at all times) gets frustrating. But here’s where I differ with their opinion. It’s not a reason to selfishly compound the issue by crushing people who got on the elevator and getting everyone in a bad temper. That’s just ego-centrism at its best and worsens the already bad experience for everyone else bidding their time, patiently. So now I’m getting intimate with the back of the head of some guy, I got the hand ramp getting shoved up my ass, the temperature is shooting up and my last nerve is being pricked.
Finally I get down to the first floor and we evacuate the elevator and I’m in a pissy mood now. I head for the exit, take a deep breath, hold it in and then go through the doors and into the cloud of smoke, but there’s too much of it and it stings my eyes and I have to breath now, can’t get around this, so I take a breath filled with nicotine and all the other wonderful life-prolonging chemicals found in those coffin nails.
Fucking smokers, I can’t stand them. If it were up to me, the cigarette industry would be made illegal and I’d shut it all down. And the smokers think they have special rights, that they deserve respect. Smokers can suck it. Everytime one of them lights up, it’s my health that takes a beating. They should feel lucky that they are allowed to smoke near the door. I used to work in another building where smokers weren’t allowed near the doors, just so those who chose a healthy lifestyle won’t have to choke on their way in to work. It’s probably the most disgusting and selfish habit I can think of. To voluntarily suck on poison and voluntarily destroy your own health is simply mind-boggling to me. And then destroy the health of others around you.
So now I made it to the sidewalk, with this bitter taste and god-awful smell following me in the wind-wake. So I trot over to the gas station, the one with the Tim Horton’s inside. I’m almost there; I can already smell the coffee, the vanilla, ah here comes the coffeegasm… maybe I’ll get a donut also, sweet sugary goodness…
“Hey you got some spare change?”
[Cue the sound of the needle scratching the vinyl record]
POP! Not even 30 seconds back into my bubble that somebody comes along and bursts it. I look at this “pan-handler” and size him up real fast. He’s already got coffee, he’s smoking a ciggy. So you want change but you got fancy coffee and expensive cigs? His winter jacket is brand-spanking new, he’s wearing Nikes, also brand-spanking new. I cock my head sideways, like a dog who’s just heard a high pitched sound. I got a guy here, cleanly shaven, healthy skin tone, with brand new clothes and shoes that I, who went to college and has a corporate job, won’t purchase because they are too expensive (and also because Nike’s labour practices are unethical, but that’s another debate) and he’s asking ME for spare change? What fucking bizarro universe did I wake up in this morning? Boy do I need that coffee, pronto.
Just a side note — back in college I wasn’t an angel and my friends certainly weren’t either. One of them was a drug dealer, as a means of paying for college and having access to a steady supply – he obviously didn’t get Scarface training on what not to do with your supply. He didn’t deal the hardcore chemistry either, but I digress. He would sit on a corner on Ste-Catherine’s street and do his business, but while waiting for his “customers” he would also leave his cap on the ground near him and without asking, people would drop 80 to 100 dollars a day in spare change. So on top of his drug income, he got this gravy also. Since then I pretty much gave up on giving money to beggars with some exceptions. But when I see a healthy looking and well fed beggar with more expensive clothes on than me, he can choke on his coffee for all I care.
So I walk in the store and check my pockets for spare change – to pay for my coffee of course. Shit, I don’t have enough. So I go over to the ATM, there’s three college age kids using the ATM. And I say “using” lightly, it was more like a place for them to chat. All three take turns to get some cash, it’s all good. But they are taking their sweet fucking time like there’s no one else around in the store, talking shit about road trips, then two of them decide that they didn’t take out enough money from their trust funds (I know these are rich kids, judging from the huge shinny SUV they stepped out of while I was sizing up Mr. Pan Handler outside) so here again I wait, my patience simply cannot wear any thinner, but I take a deep breath, reminding myself that I was a talking monkey just like them a few years a go.
Then, the supreme offence. Miss Birdbrain turns around and, playing innocent with an insincere apologetic giggle, asks me if I was waiting to use the ATM. “No I just love to lean on the beer, it’s comforting to me” I answer back. Why, why, why do people play stupid when they realise they’re holding other people up? Just say “oops I’m sorry” but don’t play stupid, it’s insulting. At least she didn’t opt to pay all her bills at the ATM machine, using one transaction per bill with a single envelope for each bill. Again, that’s another rant from hell.
So I’m done taking the money out of the ATM and then head on over to Tim’s, because by now, my day has been shot to hell by all this human stupidity. Guess who’s in line? The entire road-trip gang and they don’t want donuts. Nope, but this isn’t an issue on human stupidity, but simply that my time is getting eaten away by all this waiting. They all want sandwiches made, and nothing is easy because Miss Birdbrain is also high-maintenance. She wanted an extra slice of tomato, not too much mayo please oh and can you double-cup my coffee also because it’s too hot. The two boys showed a frightening lack of decision making prowess that struck fear in my heart that I would probably have these jack-asses or others like them, working with me in the near future. Do I want the chicken salad or the ham sandwich? And then the ultimate moment of intellectual scrutiny. The chicken noodle soup or the beef and barley soup? Decisions, decisions… I just can’t make my mind up.
Meanwhile in my right frontal lobe, a movie is playing out where metal blades come out from my forearms and I turn into that ugly mother fucker with glow in the dark blood. I start impaling them, breaking and ripping out their spines, doing a slice and dice and sending buckets of blood splattering on the walls and the sweet little lady behind the counter asks me if she can get me anything.
I snap out of my impatient, delirious, and violent fantasy world and give her a big smile and ask her for my coffee. Here comes the caffeine, finally. I take my coffee and leave, once outside I take a deep breath of satisfaction, all this impatience was ultimately pointless, my contempt for humans has lessened. I’m feeling like Hudson Hawk when he finally gets to drink his cappuccino, everything before this is now small potatoes, this is the good life. Then I realise I have to go back through the smoke, the cramped elevators just to get back to my office. But hey all I wanted was coffee and I got coffee although it took me a whopping 35 minutes to get this done. All that was missing was the pleasure of cannonballing a poodle out of a castle window.