Coffee, Simplified. Warning: Luxury Problems.

posted in: D.C., Travel 0
It's so simple. Photo: Wikipedia
It’s so simple. Photo: Wikipedia

I’m headed to teach and lecture at a new event in Iowa, Joi’s Sewing Holiday. I’m impressed at all that Ms. Joi — an accomplished garment sewist, author, and designer — has arranged and coordinated. I imagine creating a new retreat with sponsors, classes, events, vendors, and big attendance is like planning a birthday party for over a thousand children born on the same day. That’s a lot of cake (with fire in it) to bring out at the right moment.

I’m at my gate at Reagan National Airport right now. After dropping my bags and getting through security, I went to my usual coffee spot in the terminal, but it was gone. In its place was a huge bar in the round in the center of the circular terminal. There were iPads at every high-top chair, six television screens nestled into the structure a la Frank Lloyd Wright, and a big sculpture-ish jobby rising out of the center; the whole thing looks like a spaceship.Wow, I said to myself, that is one fancy bar. But I wanted coffee, not scotch. I turned 360 degrees, looking for my coffee gals, who kind of know me at this point. No dice.

Gingerly, I approached the bench. “Hi, I said to the black-clad…team. “Do you all serve coffee?” Practically in chorus, they answered in the affirmative. I was to sit down in a chair and use the iPad to order.

“Do I have to?” I said. “Can I just get a large coffee to go?” No, I learned; it was iPad or die. All right. I sat down and began to tap. The first screen I got was a prompt to enter my flight information so the robot could “keep me updated.” I did not want to be updated. I’m an adult, for one thing, and plus, I could see my gate from my chair. I flagged a nice lady making the rounds of the spaceship who let me know that I didn’t have to do all that; I could just punch the miniscule button that said, “Skip This Screen.”

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Getting a coffee to go with cream and sugar took about five minutes. There was only one size to select but, as the nice lady told me, there are free refills. I suspect when I am done drinking the ambrosia that is the first cup of coffee of the day, I will be forced to tap again. Just speaking over the counter to the people working there, I will have to use an iPad.

I hate this so much. So, so, so much. Does this make me old? How can it, though? It’s not efficient! It is the opposite of efficient? Ordering and receiving a cup of coffee should not take over 2.5 minutes, top to bottom. They’re collecting data, surely, tracking how much coffee people pour down their throats between 7:50 and 7:55 at Reagan National.

My cup is almost empty. I dread the next step.


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