Friday, October 31, 2014

The Holiday Special, Please

During my time in college there was a little coffee shop that I would frequent almost daily. A cozy little place, it served your normal range of beverages, plus sandwiches, soups, and other treats. It had a range of furniture, from normal four-tops to a massive 8-10 person raw-wood table, from cheap Ikea chairs to cushy recliners. Once you add in the friendly staff, it was a place I could go at any time, for any reason. And I did, a lot.

One day, around Christmas time, I was chatting up the two staff at the front counter as I was the only customer and we both just felt like killing time. An older gentleman comes in and approaches the counter to place an order, so I stood off to the side. His order? "The Holiday Special, please!" Myself and my friends exchanged a quizzical glances.

"What's the Holiday Special?" the friend closest to the register inquired.

"Didn't your manager tell you? It's a small cup of coffee and a free cookie."

Now we were thoroughly puzzled. The owner was known as being "a bit" tight and giving away a free cookie would be entirely out of the realm of normalcy.

"I'm sorry, do you have any proof? A coupon?"

"No - I talked to your manager. He said it's okay," the older gentleman insisted.

This exchange went on a bit longer before the man backed down and paid for a coffee and a cookie. After he left, the three of us had a bit of a laugh and went back to chatting.

I came back in the next day and found myself in line behind the old man. Much to my surprise, he tried the same trick again, this time to a different employee behind the counter, but with the same results. After he left, I related the previous day's story to the two employees on duty; the person in the back mentioned that the old man had tried it a couple days prior as well. Apparently the gentleman was working his way through the handful of employees.

The next day, I took a peak at what holidays were happening around the world on that day (e.g. the feast of St. Nicholas, international ape awareness day). Armed with this knowledge, I went into the café, sauntered up to the counter, and flatly asked for the So-and-so Day Special. Eyebrows raised.

"What exactly," my friend asked, "is that special?"

"I'd like a turkey sandwich and an iced tea at the regular price."

Everyone had a bit of a chuckle and the day passed with no incident.

For the next month or so, every time I went in I'd preface my order, whatever it was, with the appropriate day's special. It became a good natured, albeit short lived, tradition. Like many things, it feel by the wayside as my lazy nature took over.

As an epilogue, I never saw the old man again. I hope he found his free cookie.

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