Picking Up at the Coffee Shop: Double-Double and a Phone Number

I hate to speak in platitudes, but there’s two kinds of coffee runs in this world:
There’s Tim Horton’s and there’s Starbucks. I don’t mean to say there’s two kinds
of people (or if there is, than I’ll happily keep a toe in both worlds), but sometimes
you want a cheap coffee, a peek at the scores from last night’s game and good look
at the Sunshine girl under buzzing fluorescent lights, and sometimes you want to
have a hipster break to read a paperback or write down a few pages of your latest
screenplay, and never the twain shall the experiences meet.

And just like the two “restaurants” offer a different, equally important ambiance,
so too do they attract a different sort of gal behind the counter. I think it’s more than
safe to say that if you lined up a bunch of plain-clothed 20-something employees
from either establishment you could make a reasonable guess as to who worked
where nine times out of ten.

You’ll have beautiful girls working either counter, I’m not making any value
judgments on either gig, a man of swagger shouldn’t judge a woman by her job any
more than he should judge a man by his, but the two shops tend to attract different
social brackets and certainly a different cultural ascetic, and if you have in mind to
woo a barista, you’d do well to adjust your game accordingly.

Tim Horton’s

Your average employee will be working odd shifts, and anytime during daylight
hours your potential date will be working at the kind of pace that would make an
air traffic controller dizzy. The reason Timmies franchises have a license to print
money is because they serve about a million people in an hour, so when you get to
the counter, if you can get out of earshot from the customers behind her and her
fellow employees, use that opportunity to your advantage.

Comment on how hard “they” make her work, and offer, if she’d prefer, to hum and
haw over your order for a few minutes to give her a chance to catch her breath. At
worst, she’ll appreciate the effort and you can slide in your name while she grabs
your honey cruller, and at best she’ll take you up on the offer (at that point, you’re
off to the races).

If you’re there at night, when things are a little quieter, that’s when you can see Tim
Horton’s girls at their finest. They’re a little sleepy, quick to laugh, and always in the
mood to pass the time and talk to somebody who’s interesting enough to hold up a
conversation. Just steer the talk to what they like to do when they’re not sleeping,
and with a little effort you’ll be hanging around till her smoke break to exchange
digits, and taking her to a matinee sometime after lunch tomorrow.

Starbucks

I’m convinced that Starbucks is where the nineties never gave up. The shop
and it’s staff have that sublime attitude that’s equal parts corporate, cynicism
and good humored self-awareness that makes me want to tap out a drum solo
from “Superunknown” every time I’m there. The girls with the green aprons can
take it all in and still crack a dirty (but PC) joke with the best of them. They’ve all
got “totally interesting” things going on after work, and the best way to see the
business end of her futon bed is to appeal to her sentimentalities.

It’s a safe bet that every single Barista worth her salt has an iPod full of tunes she
thinks are better than the ones the store is plugging, so start there. Tell her you
really liked the song that just finished the first 100 times you heard it and ask her
what she’d play if she was at the musical wheel. If you’ve got time to kill, tell her
you’re going to be abusing the store’s hospitality for a little while to read a few
chapters of the paperback you just happen to be carrying, and wait for her to segue
into what she’s reading. You’ll be trading tattoo stories and digits before you can
say “Americano”.

If coffee is the world’s drug of choice, sex is a close second, and there’s nothing like a
girlfriend who can get you both your daily fixes for free. Happy hunting gentlemen.

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