Here in Ocala, Florida, we're not used to what happened to us this week. We froze our butts off. That's right, it was so cold, the politicians had their hands in their OWN pockets... hey-o!
I've never been much of a coffee drinker, but this morning I made an exception. I drove over to the new Starbucks on the town square. I really like our little downtown area. The recent Improvements along with the pride of the vendors have combined to make this a really nice place to go for dining and shopping without having to fight all of the traffic and hustle and bustle of the newer, more recently developed areas. The natives call this place Brick City. Named after all of the all-red brick buildings that used to dominate this original hub of town until the great fire burned many of them to the ground. Most were rebuilt, but with different exteriors than the originals. But the nickname, Brick City survived, fully intact, and that's alright by me.
After finally finding a parking space (Apparently this weather gave a lot of people the same idea), I crossed the street and headed towards the coffee shop. I passed by a new sushi place, looks top notch, and Gause and Son's Jewelers always looks terrific, as it has for many years as the anchor of downtown. The first thing I noticed upon entering this caffeine craver's paradise was how this national chain store was able to spend the money necessary to fill out this cavernous space in this old brick building and actually give it kind of a cozy feel. Previous occupants had attempted this but it always seemed as if the space just swallowed everything else around you and made you feel like you were the only person in the building and you would need a compass to find your way out.
But there was something else I noticed. The people. Everyone sort acted the same. Almost "Stepford Wife" in their mannerisms. Every one looked as if they shopped at the same store, spoke as if they read the same books, and of course, knew EXACTLY how to order their coffee. I would like to take a moment to address this. I am admittedly jealous of people that know how to speak the Starbucks lingo. As I said, I'm not much of a coffee drinker so, me ordering from Starbucks is akin to John Wayne walking into Victoria's Secret and describing to the sales girl what kind of "little number" he's looking to pick up for his wife. In other words- It aint pretty.
So I'm standing in line, nervous about what I'm going to say when it's my turn, and the little guy behind the counter taking(or should I say giving) the customers orders isn't helping to ease my nerves at all. He kind of half-shouts at the lady in front of me "What are you gonna have!", and she immediately recites something that sounded french to me, to which he replies, "NEXT!" Oh no, it's my turn, I say to myself, what am I going to say?- I mean, I just want a cup of coffee right? I'm cold, all I want to do is warm up a little... that's all. But this guy, this tyrant, this Starbucks "Coffee Nazi" has me all worked up. So I step forward and say something like, "Uh...I'll have a skinny, super charged, peppermint, java express with cream". He looks at me and dryly says, "What size?" Huh? "WHAT SIZE?!" Oh uh, medium I guess. "What's your name"? James...my name is James I proclaimed - proud that I knew the answer so quickly.
A couple of seconds later the girl behind the counter called my name, I picked up my order and was in warm, caffeine bliss shortly after. As I approached the exit I caught the eye of a gentleman who was wearing a stylish, tan leather jacket. He looked to be in his mid 40's and appeared to have all the answers. He gave me a look that said "You're in the club now pal". I looked back as if to say, "I have a cool jacket too I'm just not wearing mine right now".
So it is with new found confidence that I leave the warmth of the building and enter into this bold new latte' universe, caffeine infused and well equipped to handle anything that life hurls my way. Now maybe I'm ready to jump onto the sushi bandwagon I say to myself as I once again pass the fashionable new squid joint. Nah,one culture shock to my system is enough for today.