Thursday, August 4, 2011

Those Europeans Love Their Coffee

This morning, Little A and I headed out to do some shopping in a nearby suburb that is very chi-chi, which is French for, "Too fancy for you." We chose this locale because we had a gift card to a kitchen store (not to buy actual kitchens, just things to put in your actual kitchens) that we had been given when we got married. For those of you counting, Eric and I have been married almost 4 years and yes, we still have unspent gift cards. For those of you not counting, Eric and I have still been married almost 4 years and we still have unspent gift cards.

We wandered the aisles of the store, Little A taking off and putting back the lids on various baking dishes with a clatter that sounded distinctly like, "You break it, you buy it." A gleaming coffee machine caught my eye. It made cappuccino and espresso and hot tea and steamed milk and, yes, even just plain old coffee. It was priced at nearly $3,000. My $50 gift card was not going to make a dent in that. But it wasn't that I actually wanted the machine, it was that there was a demo set up where you could get a free little cup of coffee.

It was just what I needed -- a little boost for free. My $50 gift card would make a big dent in a lot of free cups of coffee.

Just as I was eyeing the machine, a saleswoman swept in to place.

"Would you like a sample?" she asked.

"Sure!" I said brightly.

"How about just a cappuccino? It makes coffee and espresso too. We have it all pre-set for our 1 point 5 ounce cups and to our chosen strength. Your grinds go in here. It tells you when it needs to be cleaned. This is the drip tray, which is all you need to clean..."

She had launched into her sales pitch. Clearly, she mistook me for someone who could casually spend $3000 on a coffee machine. She mistook me for someone who could spend $3000 on anything. She mistook me for someone who wasn't just coming into her store because she had a four-year-old $50 gift card in her back pocket.

Still, I wanted that tiny cup of cappuccino, so I adopted the appearance of someone in the market for a $3000 coffee machine: clean and well-groomed and interested but not TOO interested, someone who might actually make a $3000 impulse purchase. I shifted grubby-faced Little A on my hip, but I did it elegantly.

"So, you just plug it in...?" I asked thoughtfully.


"...." "What else does a person who makes a $3000 impulse purchase ask," I wondered quietly to myself.

"It's made in Switzerland. They're very popular in Europe. A lot of Europeans have them. They don't spend all the money that we do at Starbucks."

"Hmmmm...." I said. But really I wanted to affect a muddy "European" accent.

"Zat is zo interesting." I'd sound like Zsa Zsa Gabor. "I am European."

"Where are you from?" she'd ask.

"Europe!" I'd answer.

But instead I just stood there blankly, waiting for my tiny cup of caffeine, vaguely thinking about all those Europeans with their cappuccino machines.

After I tasted the coffee, though, I thought, "Those Europeans are brilliant! A mere $3000 for a coffee machine. And they're saving money by not going to Starbucks!"

I sipped on the coffee while Little A and I finished our wander through the store. We bought nothing because, even though we had that gift card, we wanted nothing...

... except that coffee machine... and to be European. Oh, to be European!

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