au bon PAIN!!
Every morning since the beginning of time, I’ve started my day with a cup of delectable, fragrant coffee at au bon pain. On a whim, I decided that that was going to change. While stopped at an intersection on the walk to work, I ground my smoldering cigarette butt under my heel and determined firmly that it was time to break my caffeine addiction. It was time to live purely, healthily, and cleanly. I beamed with pride at my resolution as I lit another Camel.
And lo, the skies darkened…
I should have known. I should have seen the signs. The homeless gaucho strumming a broken guitar and wailing a Spanish lament, his sad eyes boring into me intensely as I passed and dropped a quarter into his upturned sombrero. The ‘Me disculpo, we’re closed…for good.’ sign in the window of Rita’s Arepas. The cicadas.
Fool that I am, I completely failed to notice the omens and continued on my merry way, tossing a chipper smile to the wise old woman sitting outside of au bon pain’s door. She just shook her head sadly as I stepped inside.
“Good morning! Can I have a hot tea, please?”
“Oh, not your usual today?”
“No, no. I’m trying to break the caffeine habit. Or at least cut down. Just a tea. Regular.”
“Sure!” She smiled sweetly and turned to fill my order.
It all seemed to happen in slow motion. The smiling barista, jaunting back to the register with a steaming, lidded cup. Me, extending a hand to take it. I could see that the lid was misshapen, crushed at the top, and not fastened securely to the cup – but it was too late, I’d already reached out to grasp it. The very slight pressure from my fingers caused the plastic lid to burst off. As a torrent of boiling water splashed onto my young and delicate flesh, the little yellow words printed around the cup’s bottom edge screamed out to me; ‘Careful, the beverage you are about to pour all over your arm is HOT!’ I cried out in agony and dropped the utensil. It clattered to the floor, resounding in the suddenly silent café.
After a stunned beat, chaos broke out behind the counter, the women rushing to my aid with paper towels and ice. I could practically read the ‘please, please, don’t sue us!’ in their dark, earnest eyes as they nursed me.
I shook my head, cheeks streaked with fresh tears. I was embarrassed by my weeping, and wanted nothing more than to run out of there and never come back.
“I’m fine. Really, it’s ok! Really. Can I just… have my tea, please?”
Nodding grimly, she complied.
I'm sure the company must’ve felt awful about the whole horrible incident, because they did something so bighearted and charitable that I almost started to cry again. I’ll never forget the incredibly generous recompense offered by au bon pain for causing me such anguish and suffering. Despite the profit lost by just giving away something so precious and rare as hot water…
…they upgraded my tea from a regular to a large! For FREE!
I know, I couldn't believe it either!
As sweet as the gesture was, however, I have resolved steadfastly not to let their infinite kindness skew the lesson learned.
O, Juan Valdez, ye have opened mine eyes. I swear, on all that is Colombian, never to forsake your sinister, pungent nectar of life ever, ever again. No more worship of false idols, lest a greater tragedy befall me...
Please, forgive me?
this is in or around cubist