Every single day of the year, someone walks into Colin’s Coffee and we begin the usual service/customer dance.
“Hi, can I get you something to drink?” –me
“Yes please, I would like some regular coffee”- customer (age between 35-65 years of age)
“Absolutely! What size would you like?” –I intuitively respond
The customer recoils back a half step and starts to look nervously around the shop, their lips have suddenly gone dry so they start licking them, buying precious time to get their thoughts together. Finally they sputter out,
“Um….I mean…..but you….uh…. so…….what ..Exactly…are you trying to..”
Thankfully, being a semi-professional barista I have 15 years of daily experience and know exactly how to handle this crisis.
“What size coffee would you like?” I ask with perfect diction and clarity. Chuck Berry would be proud.
“Uh…..so…you ……but I just….um…..uh…. Excuse me?”
“What size would you like? We have small, medium and large”
“But…….I….. Just ….the thing is…..but I..on..ly…..was…uhhh.….come again?”
“We have three different sizes”- I cheerfully mention to clear the confusion.
“Oh….i see… Um…uh… how big is a small?” they ask.
“Oh…..um… how big is a medium?”
“Oh. Ok…um how big is a..”
“Oh..Um…but the thing is…... Um……but….ugh….. Can I see a small?”
I hold up the small cup so the customer can clearly see it over the counter and after a few thoughtful seconds they ask the obvious follow up question, “can I see the medium?” then “Can I see the large?” and invariably “Can I see the small again”?
Now the room gets quiet as the customer quietly tries to process this overload of numbers and geometry.
“Uh….I guess… I will have the………………………………..”
“Medium” I gently suggest
“Um. Ok. That sounds good”
What I find most interesting about this exchange, which happens EVERY SINGLE DAY, is that unless this is the first shop the customer has ever been to, they must live their entire lives constantly taken a back by the question, “What size?” in every establishment they ever walk into.
That has got to be pure torture. Terrifying even.
I mean, you cannot walk into McDonald’s and just say, “Give me Chicken McNuggets.” I can guarantee that lucky soul with the golden arch on their hat will go straight to the corporate training hand book and shoot back, “6 piece, 12 or 50? What size?”
You cannot walk into a shoe store and say, “I’d like shoes please”
OR call a Pizza shop and say, “One pepperoni pizza to go”
OR “I’m here to buy a new suit”
OR “one popcorn and diet coke please”
They are going to ask back, every single time, for ever and ever and ever and ever, “What size do you want?”. So you need to get mentally prepared for that. Maybe some sort of mental checklist before you blurt out, “ I’ll have soup” (cup or bowl? –More sizes??)
Please remember, I don’t enjoy badgering innocent people with brain wrenching questions like “what size do you want?” anymore then they like having a bunch of “uppity science facts and figures” thrown in their face. Believe me, I spend my share of time agonizing over “Biggies” vs. “Ventis'” vs. “Party-Size” vs. “Ribbed” just like the next Joe 12 pack.
In an effort to clear the confusion and lessen the hardship inflicted by the tyranny of sizes, our feature drink at Colin’s Coffee reads like this on the new menu-boards.
Coffee Deluxe-our feature drink sm/med/lg all sizes $2.50
(Imagine me rubbing my hands together in sideways claps and saying in a satisfied way “ Well that should clear things up and make everybody happy)
Customer: “ but….I…jus…um….Every size is the same price?
“But HOW can all three sizes be the same price? They aren’t the same size! That’s impossible. IMPOSSIBLE!!They can’t be! How can they be the same price? Damn you! Tell me how different sizes can be the same price!!!!!!
“Because they are” – my thoughtful reply
“BUT THEY CAN’T BE!! THEY ARE DIFFERENT SIZES!!”
YOU HAVE SIZES!!!
We sure do my friend. We sure do.
Colin Gawel is a drooling fanatic and devoted family man who moonlights as a coffee shop owner while moonlighting as a songwriter/band guy.