Anything Else?

There was a beautiful new guy at the coffee shop. He was six-feet tall, with long dark hair tied in a high knot, and a diamond nose stud. His ethnicity was unclear – perhaps Hawaiian and Asian, or Caribbean and North African – it was difficult to say. But he affected Karen deeply; she was wet the moment she saw him.

He was really nice whenever she went there, and seemed to have all the time in the world. Such attentive service was rare. Even when there was a queue of girls behind, he wouldn’t rush her. He often asked “How is your day going so far?”, and, “What are you doing this afternoon?” He also asked about her evenings, and ended with the retail mantra, “Anything else?”

She hated when people said that. If she had wanted something else she would have put it on the counter, or asked for it by name, or said “Hang on a minute,” and run to get it. She didn’t want anything else! That’s why she wasn’t presenting “anything else” for scanning, or offering additional payment. But it was different when he said it.

His accent was hard to define – British, but not quite; maybe Scottish with some Italian or French. “Anything” was not one word when he said it, but two words. Anything usually meant “a random item, aka. whatever.” But any thing sounded to her like “whatever you desire, O beautiful one; any single thing from this universe bursting with ravishing possibilities”. It was impossible to say if he was flirting with her. The coffee shop’s clientele were mostly female, and many were much prettier than she was. What would he see in her? Karen didn’t want to think about it too much though. She stopped going to other coffee shops. She only went there.

Luka – it took a while for Karen to gather enough courage to ask his name – was a skilled barista. His espresso, cappuccino, mochaccino, Americano, Canadiano, ristretto, and Bungacino – named after the Village’s long-serving doctor – were always the best. Whenever she went in, she asked if he could make her coffee. This annoyed other workers. They often had to summon him from the depths of sandwich-making, but he always seemed happy to see her. They hated her even more when she began asking which sandwiches, which soups, which muffins, which wraps, which cakes, and which salads he’d made. Her choices were not guided by flavours;, only by which items had passed through Luka’s hands. He never seemed annoyed or embarrassed. There was something about him. He made her feel beautiful.

Karen was drawn towards a thrilling conclusion, and wondered why she hadn’t seen it before. Why else would he treat her so special? He must like her too! This time when he asked her, “Anything else?” she said, “Yes, a hot date with you tonight.” She couldn’t believe that she’d said it, but by the time she realized, she already had.

If it didn’t go well, she could pretend it was a joke; an ironic comment on corporate psychology, how it dehumanizes and objectifies both the vendor and customer – turning what could be a natural, enjoyable encounter into an empty monetary exchange, with a subtext of inadequacy, both of the item – suggesting that it isn’t enough – and of the purchaser – implying they are lacking something, of which they need more to feel “happy”.

But to her surprise, no joke was required. He replied, “Sure, what time shall I pick you up?”

After stunned silence, she said, “7pm?”

“Great,” said Luka. “See you then.”

“Do you know where I live?”

“Yes I do, it’s on the computer.” She looked at him unnerved. “From your loyalty card details.”

She smiled and said, “Ok,” then walked out smiling.

Luka came at exactly 7pm. They went for drinks first, then for dinner, then to her apartment for sex. It was a thrilling, unbelievable evening.

In the morning he was gone, and Karen panicked. She thought, “What the hell was I doing last night? I hardly know the guy. It was our first date and I let him sleep with me. What comes next?” She decided not to go to the coffee shop that morning. Instead she went to the one across the road.

Karen had a shock. There was Luka making coffee! He’d cut his hair short, and lost the nose stud; WTF? Was he trying to hide from her too? She had already joined the queue, and it was best to just stay there now, giving her time to think. Luka took a long time with the girl in front, but eventually Karen’s turn came. He was as friendly as ever and asked his usual questions, but nothing more. He didn’t return her sly smile of something delicious shared. She ran out and began crying.

She couldn’t go to work in this state, so instead went to the Village’s third coffee shop. There was Luka again, now with a crew cut and diamond earrings, and a line of girls before him. What was going on?

Karen was not aware of Commodity Oligopolies and the new field of Retail Psychographics. World Coffee Corp had bought the rights to all coffee shops in BC, but not wanting to scare customers away, they had retained branches’ separate identities. The coffee blends, sizes, flavours, and finishes – and the numbers of i’s, c’s, and o’s – were exactly the same; they always had been, only differing in the minds of gullible consumers. But what to do with the staff spectrum? WCC cloned their most attractive, multiracial, multilingual male staff, and sent one to each outlet to train other staff. Their goal was to give their mostly female clientele complete customer satisfaction.

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3 Responses to “Anything Else?”

  1. Hyphens: He was six feet tall. or He was a six-foot man.—–
    possibilities”. Being the end of the spoken sentence, it is usual to put the period inside the quotation .——
    to say if: “if” is conditional, and it is better to use “whether”——
    flavours:, the semicolon or the comma, not both ——-
    “to her apartment for sex” – “for sex” is a rather blunt way to put it; not a very romantic phrase for creative fiction.
    “in BC” – I haven’t looked back to see what you call your mythical province, and wonder whether this is a slip from the mythical to the real. What does “BC” stand for in your stories?

    • javedbabar Says:

      Thanks for your comments. They will enhance my awareness when writing other stories.

      The mythical village of Lucerne is 30 minutes from Strattus and 2 hours from the City, but all are in BC (British Columbia/Barbary Coast!)

  2. Nearly all of that which you call management is made up of which makes it a hardship on visitors to get their work done.
    Don’t be concerned about people stealing your notions. Should your ideas are anything good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.

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