There is a single-serve coffee maker in the lobby of my building.
You can choose from a variety of options from this beast of a machine – espresso, latte, cappucino or plain ol’ American coffee (my drug of choice).
It’s like a ‘choose your own adventure.’ Every time you pick a button, you are led down a different path to the final destination of the perfect cup of coffee. There are no wrong paths on this adventure.
My path looks like this:
Coffee > Colombian > No added flavor > Medium Strength > Go!
This morning I stepped up to the coffee maker to enter my selection, and was surprised to see that I couldn’t read the screen. It took a moment for my brain to process that it was in a different language, and then another moment to recognize that language as French.
Panic threatened to take hold of me, but I pushed it away and focused. I would do whatever it took to get my morning cup of coffee.
My first trip outside of this country was in 2007 when I journeyed to the city of lights, Paris. I was so excited for the trip that I spent months listening to Learn in Your Car French CDs. By the time I arrived I knew the very important words and phrases as follows:
Hello = Bonjour
Goodbye = Au revoir
Please = Se il vous plait
Thank you = Merci
Where is the bathroom? = ou sont les toilette?
And the most important phrase I learned:
Un cafe, se il vous plait = A coffee, please
I looked back at the machine and knew that all those hours of French 101 had prepared me for this moment.
I hit ‘un cafe’, and said se il vous plait out loud. My manners are involuntary.
Then I chose ‘colombienne’, because the best coffee comes from Colombia.
Next was ‘sans saveur’ Followed by ‘moyenne’ and fianlly, I got my perfect cup of coffee.
I like to think that I dug deep into the file room of my brain to recognize all those words, but the more plausible explanation is that I have subconsciuosly memorized the sequence of buttons I push every morning.
C’est la vie.
P.S. You might also like to Have a cup of coffee with a friend
Image source: copyright Nina Matthews Photography