What an awful morning. First I buy a bagel from an unusual bagel place and it turns out to be, not unsurprisingly, a rather unusual bagel. But on top of that I decide to get a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee (solid) before I go into my office building; but, unfortunately, this requires some work. My office building is right across from the New York Stock Exchange, which is soon to be renamed the New York Stock Fortress due to the insane amount of guard rails, surveillance, men with big guns, Chinese tourists, etc. so while the Dunkin Donuts may well be just one block south of me, the road I need to walk down is barricaded and guarded (guarded!). I’ve sometimes thought of reasoning with the men, pointing out that from the front of my building I can SEE the Dunkin Donuts and it shouldn’t be that I have to walk around the block to get to it. The one time I almost got up the nerve to say something, I realized at the last moment that I was going to ask a man with a gun if he could let me past him so I get to the Dunkin Donuts easier.
Anyway, this morning I started my way around the Wall Street Compound and as I turn the first corner, behold!, before me like an oasis is a glistening, a new Dunkin Donuts, literally 50, maybe 100 yards closer than the other one! I’m giddy.
I run up to this new Dunkin Donuts, but something doesn’t feel right. The people behind the counter are presentable, the place is clean, all the trays are full of seemingly fresh donuts – this doesn’t seem like a Dunkin Donuts to me. Then, when I’m the next on line, the girl behind the counter says, “May I help the next guest?” Guest? Then I look up at the menu and notice they’re serving a chocolate banana latte. And it hits me – they’re trying to be chic. They’re trying to be Starbucks.
(Don’t get me wrong, Starbucks is good if you want a venti, extra hot, no foam, two pump tazo chai. I get that. But Dunkin Donunts is quaint, it’s homey. It’s grassroots. It’s 80’s colors. It’s your childhood and your adulthood all in one place. You can get a box of munchkins and a box of coffee. You can’t put a price on that . . .
. . . And one more thing - in a way I’ve always felt prejudiced for liking Dunkin Donuts more than Starbucks. There are so many Starbucks around my office it’s not even funny. I once saw a blind man give a tourist directions to a Starbucks. I’m convinced he had no clue where he was, but he knew that no matter what direction he pointed, there would be one. But for a Dunkin Donuts I have to walk the equivalent of a Walmart parking lot. It’s like living on the Upper West side and eventually saying to yourself, “Maybe I SHOULD become Jewish. There’s a synagogue on EVERY CORNER!” But that’s no way to pick a religion, or a coffee shop.)
So I ask for a medium iced coffee, decaf. She replies, “Sugar, or alternative sweetener? Milk or cream? Any flavoring?” I’m losing it here. This isn’t the way it’s supposed to go. Dunkin Donuts is working class. It’s a blue collar, microwaved-egg-and-meat sandwiches, hold a napkin on top and shake your cup kind of place. I’m supposed to order coffee like I’m translating a foreign language. Noun first, adjectives follow. “Small coffee, black. Large coffee, light and sweet.” Because that’s the blue collar way of doing it. You say anything extra as though it were an afterthought, like you don’t really care, you’d drink it however they gave it to you, but if it’s not too much trouble, throw some sugar in there. Yeah, sure, some milk while you’re at it. And I like that.
I’m so confused by all this that I forget to ask for milk, so when she brings me my black iced coffee I have to ask for a cup of milk on the side. Oh and some sugar packets. She looks at me in that way that says, “I just asked you if you wanted milk and sugar and you said no. why would you do that?” and I’m ashamed. This isn’t what I had in mind when I decided to get an iced coffee.
After fixing my coffee in the store (with seemingly every employee staring at me as I shake my coffee with fear, always fear, that this time the top with somehow come loose, I walk outside and take a sip. It’s gross. Terrible. It’s my awful morning wrapped up in a chilled drink, only it’s NOT that chilled because apparently she made my iced coffee by pouring hot coffee over ice, undoubtedly the worst way to make an iced coffee in iced coffee’s short history. In case you haven’t kept up with chemistry, hot liquid melts ice.
Back at my office, I’m left with my unusual bagel, my tepid coffee and a lingering questions as to how I got here before I even checked me email. It’s 4:00 and only now can I bring myself to write about it.
On a positive note, I found this map of the Dubai island project today. The new game: What’s the best country to live in? Personally, I think Sicily has got to be the island of choice. Or, for the solitarian in you, perhaps Madagascar.