When I lived in Los Angeles, I frequented this one particular Starbucks right near my apartment (this was in the days before I worked at the high-end kitchen store and had a Starbucks-caliber espresso machine in my very own kitchen). I went in so often, that the baristas knew what I wanted before I did.
“The usual for you then, MOV? A grande, extra-hot latte, light foam?” they would chirp merrily at me when I would walk in. God forbid I should want to mix things up a little and order a hot chocolate for once.
I would smile and nod, happy that in my transient airline world of changing planes, changing passengers, changing destinations, and changing time-zones, at least five people at Starbucks remembered my name and drink preference.
There was one guy that worked there in particular that was always very helpful. His name was Renny. Renny had a habit of making the “wrong” drink for someone else ahead of me in line, and guess what? It conveniently “happened” to be a grande, extra-hot latte, light foam. What-to-do-what-to-do-what-to-do?
“MOV, do you want this free drink just sitting here then? It’s left-over and I don’t think you ordered and paid yet, did you?” Renny would wink at me, and then he’d hand me a bunch of free drink coupons, or ask me if I wanted to sample a new pumpkin croissant product. I wondered if he thought I was on food stamps and he felt sorry for me.
This went on for quite some time. Think years.
I was convinced that Renny was the president of Starbucks or at least the manager and therefore had the authority to give away so much coffee and snack foods.
Renny also liked to walk around from behind the counter (even if there were 20 people in line) to hand-deliver the drink to me. But, being naïve, I assumed Renny was just this nice to everyone.
One day I was walking out of Starbucks with my friend, Sarah, and she said, “MOV, that Starbucks guy has a crush on you!”
“Huh?” I said, absent-mindedly spinning my wedding ring around on my left hand. “Sarah, you’re crazy. He knows I’m married! I've gone in there with The Husband a million times. Plus, Renny’s old enough to be my grandfather!”
Truth be told, even if Renny was my age, I never would’ve been attracted to him. He was shorter than me (I’m 5’8” and I’m guessing he was 5’ on a good day), bald, missing a few crucial teeth (always a deal-breaker), and his skin seemed angry and reactive, and, well … isn’t that enough?
I continued to be nice to Renny, and he continued to be nice to me. Until the day he followed me out of Starbucks to my car.
Now he was crossing the line. I braced for what I knew was coming next. He was going to ask me for my phone number, ask me on a date (for coffee? how original), or possibly even try to kiss me.
My mind was sprinting ahead. I was going to turn around and tell Renny once and for all that I absolutely was NOT interested in him, that I was married, and for him to stop being so nice to me and leave me the hell alone! And who does he think he is, following me to my car in broad daylight? What was his problem? This kind of behavior could get him fired!
“Miss MOV?” he said, breathless after running up behind me. He shoved a small leather object in my direction, “You forgot your purse.”