I was showing property the other day and had a few minutes to kill between appointments. I asked my buyer if he would like a cup of coffee. Yes, he replied. So I drove over to Sandy's Cafe at the corner of White at Virginia. I had been at the same place at about the same time the day before. The guy behind the counter who waited on me then was helping another customer. A new guy looks at me and asked me what I wanted.
I said "One small cafe con leche with two sugars and a decaf." He asks "Sugar?" and I said sugar in the con leche but not the decaf. He walks to the coffee machines and starts the laborious process of freshly brewing coffee just for me. He bangs, cleans, adds coffee, turns on the machine, grabs the machine and fiercely jerks it. He removes the small coffee brewer and pours the hot coffee into a small white Styrofoam cup. He added the milk and sugar then put on the top. He placed the cup in front of me. Beat. Then I asked where the decaf was. He said "We only have decaf for con leche decaf." I replied I did not want the decaf con leche, only the decaf. He removed the coffee can from the shelf over the coffee machines as if to prove to me that he did indeed have decaf coffee. But then he said they do not sell decaf coffee, only decaf con leche.
Since I ordered the exact same thing the day before with no trouble at all, I was perplexed by my inability to get the same thing a day later. But I did not lose my cool. Instead, I remembered Jack Nicholson in a similar situation many years ago. I was attending law school when I saw the movie Five Easy Pieces. I was the legal staff assistant to Judge Frank Jamison and Diane Primavera was his Division Clerk (secretary) at that time. Diane asked me "Gary, have you seen Five Easy Pieces?" I said "I've never seen one easy piece."
In the movie Five Easy Pieces Jack Nicholson's character (Dupea) is in a diner and wants to order plain wheat toast which is not on the menu but which is easily made. Dupea had an easy way of getting to win:
- Dupea: I'd like a plain omelet, no potatoes, tomatoes instead, a cup of coffee, and wheat toast.
- Waitress: No substitutions.
- Dupea: What do you mean? You don't have any tomatoes?
- Waitress: Only what's on the menu. You can have a number two - a plain omelette. It comes with cottage fries and rolls.
- Dupea: Yeah, I know what it comes with. But it's not what I want.
- Waitress: Well, I'll come back when you make up your mind.
- Dupea: Wait a minute. I have made up my mind. I'd like a plain omelet, no potatoes on the plate, a cup of coffee, and a side order of wheat toast.
- Waitress: I'm sorry, we don't have any side orders of toast...an English muffin or a coffee roll.
- Dupea: What do you mean you don't make side orders of toast? You make sandwiches, don't you?
- Waitress: Would you like to talk to the manager?
- Dupea: ...You've got bread and a toaster of some kind?
- Waitress: I don't make the rules.
- Dupea: OK, I'll make it as easy for you as I can. I'd like an omelet, plain, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast, no mayonnaise, no butter, no lettuce. And a cup of coffee.
- Waitress: A number two, chicken sal san, hold the butter, the lettuce and the mayonnaise. And a cup of coffee. Anything else?
- Dupea: Yeah. Now all you have to do is hold the chicken, bring me the toast, give me a check for the chicken salad sandwich, and you haven't broken any rules.
- Waitress: You want me to hold the chicken, huh?
- Dupea: I want you to hold it between your knees.
- Waitress: Do you see that sign, sir? Yes, you'll all have to leave. I'm not taking any more of your smartness and sarcasm.
- Dupea: You see this sign? [He sweeps all the water glasses and menus off the table]
The guy at Sandy's finally gave in and brewed a full cup of decaf with no con leche or sugar. I must have been there five to seven minutes. We barely made our next appointment on time. But we had a great laugh on the way. And I still haven't seen one easy piece. Nothing is easy.