Tag Archives: coffee

There is such a thing as a free lunch

freeI’m afraid I’ve been remiss but please don’t mistake this for an apology. It’s more of an explanation really. The thing is I started this blog for a couple of reasons. The first was to help people better understand the benefits of living life as a shallow person. I hope I have done that by sharing with you some of the stories of my life. The second was to provide those of you inclined to follow in my steps with some tricks and tips for doing so. And this is where I think I may have stumbled just a bit. Because I haven’t really focused on the “how to’s” which isn’t all that surprising since I have never been one to tell people what to do. Except of course the kids. But that’s to be expected. So, I was quite pleased the other day when I came upon a situation that reminded me what this blog was all about and how I might have gotten slightly off the path I was trying to beat. It was, as they say in my world, a teachable moment.

It all started with a coffee meeting set up to discuss some really important work stuff. A little before we were to meet, my wonderful colleague (yes, she reads the blog) let me know that if she arrived before I did she would pick up my drink for me. My immediate reaction was “how lovely of her” followed closely by “so what would it hurt if I’m a couple of minutes late?”. And sure enough, when I arrived I found both her and my drink waiting patiently for me. It was at that moment I realized there really is such a thing as a free lunch, or at the very least, a coffee and that perhaps this particular skill of mine was something to be shared with others. Because, as you can see, it’s about the timing. Late enough to ensure she would get there before me but not so late to cause her to become irritated. Or let my drink get tepid. But while the timing is critical, what is even more important in a situation such as this, is to shed any shred of guilt you might feel about pulling this off. Which, goes without saying, is not all that difficult for a truly shallow person.

Let’s look at another example. You’ve just finished a delish repast with a friend you haven’t seen for perhaps forty years or so. You’ve exchanged the requisite numbers of stories about kids, travel and first husbands when it occurs to you that a moment even more uncomfortable than the conversation you have just experienced is still to come. Let’s face it. You know the server will place the cheque strategically at equi distance between you and your lunch partner so here’s what you need to do. Hesitate for just a moment. If you have to, save that last forkful of desert for this very purpose and when your new found friend reaches to pick up the cheque, resist any urge you may have to suggest a different solution to this problem. No matter what that little voice inside your head tells you just say “how nice”, and “thank you”. To assuage any twinges of guilt you may have at this juncture, think of it this way. Either she has enjoyed your company so much that she’s happy to pay or she has way more money than you do. One way or the other it’s a win-win and you just got a free lunch. Remember, timing and guilt.

Of course it won’t always go this way. There are those who prefer a more collaborative arrangement, a “round robin” of sorts where they get this one and you get the next. Go ahead and make that deal. But may I respectfully suggest that before your next date you take another boo at “Forgetting…it’s an art”. I’m guessing that little refresher will come in handy right about now.

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Things that Irritate Me (Part 3, with some apologies)

clockBelieve me. I am the last person who thought there would be cause to revisit this theme of mine. At the end of my last “irritated” post I was as happy as the rest of you to be done with it. Never, in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that a shallow person like me would have any sort of list, much less a growing list, of irritations. Maybe it’s the “Black Friday” thing. If my memory serves me correctly (and you know how often that happens) I recall that it was this time last year, while in Seattle doing a little bargain shopping myself, I encountered the New Yorker whom, for whatever reason, (maybe she had just broken up with her partner of 16 years and was engaging in some retail therapy to deal with the despair) seemed to feel it was ok to lash out at the poor woman behind the cash who was not only working as hard as any human could be expected, but doing it with a smile on her face. Maybe we are all in too much of a hurry these days to actually care about other people, and their feelings, even a little tiny bit. Or maybe we have become too accustomed to talking to what are essentially machines (you do know that iPhone of yours is one) and have forgotten to notice when we are not. Whatever the cause, I am finding myself increasingly irritated by people who are rude. Just plain, outright rude. To complete strangers. Like me. Shall I explain? Well that’s about as rhetorical as a question can get.

So it’s Saturday afternoon and I’m at my fav coffee shop, standing in line, waiting patiently for my turn at the till. So far, so good. There’s no one behind me which, I think to myself is a “good thing” because I’m about to present the Barista with my half price coupons which the good people at coffee HQ have so generously deemed I have earned as a result of the truck loads of dimes I spend at this place. Let’s face it. Shallow people are known for their propensity to waste gobs of time sitting and drinking coffee as what better place to while away the hours playing games like “who’s that guy/gal”, which perhaps explains the above speculation on the New Yorker. Unfortunately, but as can be expected, things did not go as quickly as one would hope and as both the Barista and I struggled with codes and apps and other technologies that were apparently required to make this happen, the line began to grow. Which was fine until a voice from the really not so long line called out “Give it up! I’ll pay for your coffee”. Now under normal circumstances I would be rather pleased to have a complete stranger offer to buy me a coffee because it’s kind of a nice thing to do. You know, one of those “pay it forward” things. But these were not normal circumstances and he was not being nice. In fact, he was being quite rude and that more than kind of irritated me. And I told him so. And it felt good.

I mean here’s a guy who, in the midst of his very busy day (I know this because he told me so), apparently found the time to stop in at his local coffee shop for a cuppa. Now it’s not like this is one of those self-serve places where you run in and out in mere seconds with something dark and murky, the sole purpose of which is to perk you up for the remainder of the day and most of the night. Nope. This is a rather popular, gourmet haunt in the middle of an upscale mall where at times you give serious consideration to offering up your first born in exchange for a parking spot. Where shoppers far more skilled at their craft than I, effortlessly wend their way through the hoards to the myriad of shops specializing in everything from gourmet cheese to high-end duds. Where in the midst of this retail frenzy there is an oasis of calm, a place we all go where, while they might not know your name, you know they’re going to ask for it. And you may have to wait. Let’s face it, they don’t call it a break for nothing. So if I’ve said it once I’ve said it six or seven times. “Unless you’re a contestant on The Amazing Race, what’s another couple of minutes in the line?

You know it’s not in my nature to dole out advice so consider this a suggestion. Next time you find yourself chomping at the bit to berate someone for higgledy-piggledy wasting two or three precious minutes of your life, take a moment to think before you speak. Because at this joyous but I understand, rather hectic time of year, maybe we all need to be just a teeny tiny bit nicer to each other. I’m pretty sure it’s going to make you feel a whole lot better but if you’re still not convinced, well take a good look at the line. If there happens to be a 5 foot 2, 105 pound (the treadmill really does work) shallow looking woman with a striking resemblance to Babs in that line, get prepared to hear about it. And trust me, those two or three minutes will be some of the best of my day.

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ice_scoopI’ve been scooped! And as a shallow person, I’m ok with that. I mean I suppose it really is the highest form of flattery. As a matter of fact it’s kind of impressive to have someone think so highly of something I shared with them that they wanted to write about it even more than I did. Or at least they got around to writing about it before I did which is not all that surprising since, as you may have noted, my “not writing days” have begun to outnumber my writing ones. But that’s only because I returned home to the North and had a whole bunch of other stuff to do, which included deciding how many colours I could put together to cut down on the number of loads of laundry that were piled up in the basement. And then there was all that food shopping since, upon return, the cupboards were quite bare. Not to mention that, of late, I have been charged with doing some writing at work and there are only so many words in one’s head at one time. And the roads are slippery as all get out which I know doesn’t really have much to do with me writing the blog but thought I could throw it out there since I’m complaining anyway. You have to admit though that those first three are fairly plausible excuses that have me, at least, convinced that this temporary slowdown is justifiable. But now I’m back at it and since I am not going to share with you the link to the culprit’s (well that’s what I like to call him) blog, I figured it would be pretty safe to write about what he wrote about. After all, it was my idea in the first place and besides, it has lots to do with all those hours I spent drinking coffee on the patio and right now I’m feeling a little nostalgic about my recent time at the beach, especially since temps here are having  some trouble moving into the plus category. Done whining.

The origins of this escapade that I am about to describe go back to the days when the Kev and I (you remember the Kev) spent many hours going for coffee in one place or another, and I am being accurate here since it was the ‘90s and there was actually more than one place to go for coffee. A little aside here. What most people don’t realize is that there is a difference between “going for coffee” and “having a coffee” the explanation of which is much too involved for this post and will have to be picked up at some point in the future. Suffice to say that the former is what I am focusing on as it tends to be the more interesting of the two options. I think however, you can imagine that when you go for coffee with the same person day after day after day it can get a little challenging to come up with new and engaging topics around which to banter. I mean there’s work stuff, family stuff and general stuff but after a while all of that gets a bit stale and so you start to look outward for some inspiration. I have always found that if you keep one ear on the tables around you it’s possible to learn something interesting and maybe even confidential as most people forget that they are not Maxwell Smart and there is no “cone of silence” (if you don’t know, here’s the link). One caution here, if you happen to accidentally overhear what you think is a great stock tip don’t run back to your office and put down your life savings ‘cause unless you happen to be lucky enough to be sitting beside Mr. Buffet it’s probably not going to pan out.

While listening in can be one way to perk up a break it is a little passive so I’d like to help you take a more proactive approach to passing the time. Whenever the Kev and I got a little bored with each other we played a game that we like to call “Who’s that Guy/Who’s that Gal?” There are no rules to this game and it’s pretty straight forward. All you have to do is look around and find someone whose life you can recreate. That’s right. You are going to figure out who that guy/gal is without actually talking to them or anyone they know. It goes something like this.

Me: See that guy in the corner with the ponytail sipping on the frap? 
Kev: Yeah. Looks like he just lost his job as the cameraman at the local network affiliate.
Me: Bet he’s trying to figure out what he can do now without chopping off that hair. Good thing he has some severance to tide him over.
Kev: He’s just stopping off here on his way to pick up a pair of snakeskin cowboy boots.
Me: So he can mosey on down to Cow Town and join the rodeo.
Kev: As a clown.

And that’s it. Before you know it you’ll be sitting with some of the most interesting albeit bizarre people in the world.  Now that I think about it, there is one rule. Never let any of them know what you’ve done because their new life just might be better than the old.

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Why I like gift cards

I love gift cards. Oh, it’s not the “getting” of gift cards that I love. For shallow people the obligation that goes along with the receiving of gifts warrants a post all to its own. No, what I love is that gift cards exist for the giving. Let’s face it, the fact that I have mastered the art of feigning interest probably means that I don’t know as much about those around me as one might hope. Honestly, do people really expect me to discern their favourite colour by simply looking at what they wear everyday? Or is it through some kind of osmosis that I am supposed to know whether it’s the “cinnamon appleberry” or “apple sunset” Yankee Candle scent they prefer? Perhaps there is a way to determine if someone likes light better than dark chocolate, but I sure don’t know how that’s done. And when it comes to choosing between red or white, well after the first glass it’s all the same anyway, isn’t it?. And so it is that the practice of appropriate gift giving has alluded me. But don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t want to give gifts, it’s just that finding “things other people might like” can be so overwhelming at times.

I mean, how often do people really like the gifts that they get? Sure, they smile politely and thank you profusely for your thoughtfulness all the while trying to make themselves believe that it truly is the “thought that counts” and that maybe someone, somewhere would appreciate having “whatever this is” on their mantelpiece. As a matter of fact, this is such a commonplace occurrence that we now talk about “regifting” as if it were part of our everyday routine…like eating breakfast, or going to work, or drying cranberries. Well that last one might not be in everyone’s routine but it’s in mine as a result of a fruit dehydrator someone gave me for my last birthday. Of course there is always the “cash” option, which, while ultimately may be the recipient’s preferred choice, seems a tad crass even if you do remember to pick up one of those newly minted hundreds while making your weekly bank deposit. Because the thing about cash is, not only does it let someone know that you don’t have any idea about what to get them, it also means you don’t really care about what they get themselves. For all you know they are using the money to feed some sort of nasty addiction they have successfully hidden from you and honestly, how does that make you feel?

Trust me, the advent of gift cards is truly a godsend not only for those of us in the shallow sphere but also for those who are not yet there. Think about it. You can gets cards for almost everything these days and it’s not that hard to figure out where someone shops or eats. You can give someone a gift and not have them know how cheap you are until they get to the store and by that time they will have forgotten who gave them the card. But most importantly, and I’m pretty sure this was the impetus behind the invention in the first place, you can buy someone a coffee, or even dinner, without actually having to be there to enjoy it with them. So who ever said I was nice?

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