When we arrive at the Coffee Club, I’m tired, overheated and sweaty from a particularly hard session with my rehab physio – never an enjoyable experience, today’s workout was made worse by summer heat and lack of air-con.
I’ve stolen hubby away from work to have a quick lunch break, but I can tell by the deep V of a frown line that he’s doing his multi-tasking worrier trick; thinking about projects to be finished, clients to be billed, and packages to be sent, even as he decides on a coffee. I send him to the balcony outside to find us a table, and peruse the cabinet of food.
There’s a trolley parked almost blocking the till, piled high with cardboard and a black bag of trash. I edge away from it, revolted mostly because I’m cranky and therefore prone to revolting.
The barista greets me, but I still haven’t decided what I want, so I don’t reply. Then it registers how rude I’m being, and I remember those good ol’ days when I worked in a cafe and customers ignored me. Good is definitely a euphemism. I try to make up for it by forcing myself to smile as I order, but the smile disappears when my card is declined.
Blushing redder than the raspberry-topped muffins that sit in front of the till, I realise I’m using the wrong card – hubby has the correct one, and now he’s nowhere to be seen. I try the trick of struggling small business owners worldwide, and whip out my phone to transfer money across accounts, but the bank isn’t playing ball today, and my card declines again.
The patient barista takes pity on me, and gently suggests I pay on the way out. She hands me a table number, and I scurry outside, embarrassed but grateful, and trying not to make eye contact with anyone.
I nearly fall over a vacuum cleaner that someone has left in an aisle, so when I make it to our table, I’m short-tempered indeed. But it doesn’t take the staff long to brew up our trim no-whip mocha frappes and heat a couple of muffins, so my grumpiness is quickly turned into delight. The drinks are perfect: sweet and creamy and oh-so-cool. The muffins, one orange poppy seed and one apple & cinnamon, are fresh and delicious. Hubby and I go halves on each, so as I enjoy the feel of poppy seeds popping between my teeth, he drools over the oat crumble that tops the other muffin.
A staff member seems to appear from nowhere, smiling and nodding politely at us as he moves the vacuum cleaner out of the way.
These franchised cafes can be a bit hit and miss, but Albany’s Coffee Club has definitely scored a hit today. When we leave, I’m happy and refreshed, and thank the servers as we leave.
Best of all, hubby picks up the tab.
Written 3 February 2017 for a Writers Group.