San Diego Stories by Salvatore Filippone

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May 23, 2002

Double Espresso

My fingers drummed the stainless steel counter as I waited for my espresso. The register read $1.75. Shit... I chucked an extra buck into the tip jar. I was tired. I’d been in front of the screen all day long, finishing some web page comps for a client. I got a call early in the morning, saying that their deadline had been pushed up a week. I found myself scrambling to put together something. I wanted to tell them to get stuffed, but I needed the money. I was in the red after having returned from France.

Months before, I had taken a job in Aix en Provence, as a creative director for a dot-com. It was a job that seemed to have fallen out of the sky. I had dreamed of going to work in Europe for years. I had never visited France, so it was a grand opportunity in many ways. It ended up being a nightmare job. In other words, the pay came occasionally. France, however, was amazing. I really enjoyed living there, with a few exceptions, but it was my gradually shrinking nest egg that was calling me back home, not to mention the lack of pay. The events of September 11 also loomed in the back of mind.

Coming back to San Diego was a difficult adjustment after being in France.

Aix was a small town, but there was a lot of movement. It was also easy to meet people there. I would sit down at a café and within ten minutes I’d be getting to know somebody. I’d gone back to my old haunts since returning home and it’s not the same. People seem to be afraid to communicate. That, or they're anti-social. Who knows? People tend to sit at the table furthest from you and keep to themselves. God forbid if you make eye contact with them. Well, at least the coffee is decent. It’s not France or Italy, but what the hell. I’m a coffee snob, what can I say? I was now really looking forward to that espresso. I craved it. Single-shot, short, all’italiano. I even brought a book to read.

The barista placed the large cup of espresso in front of me.

It was a double.

“What is this?” I asked.

“Espresso,” he replied.

“Yeah, I know that. Why is it double? I asked for a short one, single.”

He stared blankly. I was getting irritated. He kept staring blankly.

“I don’t want this. I wanted a single shot, short.”

He then replied with a smirk, “Dude, what’s the difference? Just drink it.”

Then he turned around and went in the back. I turned around and looked at the customer behind me. Her eyes shot downwards. I shook my head in disbelief. I was fuming. Cursing him, I took my dollar back out of the tip jar. The worst part was, I took a sip of the double espresso, and it was watery! I tossed the whole cup into the trash and left.

Posted by sfilippone at May 23, 2002 10:12 PM