Once upon a time when I was a freshman in high school, my mother came home and informed her spouse and offspring that she was giving up her life as a homemaker and becoming an independent lady by means of getting herself a job. Her bubbly and outgoing personality naturally made her an ideal candidate to be a Starbucks barista and not long after submitting her application, she announced that she too would would soon have the luxury of paying state and federal taxes, as well as contributing to a 401(k) of her own.
My sister and I committed ourselves early on to our mother’s return to the workforce and had her practice abbreviating high maintenance beverage orders onto a white board.
Me: A grande, non-dairy latte with two shots of espresso, three pumps of chocolate, and extra whipped cream!
My sister: A venti soy cappuccino with no foam, extra caramel, half and half, and 2 pumps of hazelnut. Iced.
Non-dairy latte with extra whipped cream? Cappuccino with no foam? We didn’t know what we were talking about then, so it certainly didn’t occur to us that even if our mom was totally in the wrong with her abbreviations, we wouldn’t have a clue.
Fast forward 10 years and my mother has managed to shimmy up her way up the ladder. Just to clarify, this is the “seniority ladder” we are talking about, which means she is her store veteran, not the VP of Far East Development for the company or anything, so don’t ask me to get your high school brother a job. Because even my own high school brother doesn’t have a job.
In all these years, my mother has been able to develop friendships with a lot of her regulars. While walking our dog Soba one morning, she brought up one of them.
My mom: One of my regulars passed away over New Year’s Eve, and I am going to his memorial service next Friday.
Me: Oh, I’m sorry to hear. Who was he?
My mom: [Insert inaudible text] He was January 9th.
I was less concerned about the fact that she described one of her customers as a calendar date than I was about the realization that January 9th was two days ago from the time we were discussing this, while the memorial service “next Friday” was January 18th. The math just didn’t add up.
A little clarification and a lot of enunciation later, I found out who this customer really was.