Coming Up Short

There’s an older woman I see at Starbucks in the morning that makes me take pause.  Imagine The Rocky Horror Show 35 years later.  She’s made up like a courtesan…lips red, cheeks rouged, with frizzy, stringy hair crisscrossing her face like strands of barbed wire.

To sum it up…it’s not too pretty, plus she’s very short, gazing up like a painted troll.  She arrives seconds after me with hordes of shopping bags arranging them around her chair as though she were having a sale.  I’ve tried not to look, but like a bad accident, can’t look away.

So there we were, the first two customers waiting for the bitchy barista to saddle up, when the woman appears not to have enough money to cover her coffee.  She starts digging in her purse, beginning to panic.  Now she comes in every day, so when she asks, could I pay you tomorrow, and the counter girl says no, I’m shocked.

“How shy is she?” I ask.  Clearly no English major, the girl looks at me confused.

“Short, how short is she for her coffee?”  I watch her count the change.

“Fifty-four cents.”

“That’s it?  I will pay for her.”

At this point the painted lady says, “No, it’s okay.  I’ll go to the cash machine.”  Did I mention it’s pouring?  Despite being in her 70s, as I look down at her, she has a childlike  quality one can’t miss.  I couldn’t help feeling, if she were a little easier on the eye, the girl might have been kinder.

“If I was a little short,” I ask her, “would you help me?”  Without hesitating she says, “Yes., of course I would.”

“Well that’s settled then.”  As snotty took my twenty I say, “Next time, try not to humiliate someone for fifty-four cents, okay?”

If looks could kill, I would have been under the bus speeding down Lex.





About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
This entry was posted in Fashion, food, humor, money, New York City, women, words and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Coming Up Short

  1. micklively says:

    I think you’ve written about your local barista before. What a mean cow she sounds! 54c is next to nothing. You can’t buy a penny chew for 54c. It wouldn’t be worth bending to pick 54c out of the gutter. If she can’t deal with people and/or mornings, she should find another job (or shift).


    • I try to be understanding because it is 5 in the morning and they have to there at 330 in order to set up on time…BUT…KINDNESS SHOULDN’T HAVE A TIME FRAME.

      Liked by 1 person

      • micklively says:

        You’re right, of course, but 0330! And, presumably, a commute before that. Do you know any kind zombies?

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s New York…the general attitude isn’t friendly. Doormen are probably the most affable. The overall Starbucks crew are kids in school with too much on their plate. I really get that, but hearts needn’t be nailed shut due to that but alas…LIVE FROM NEW YORK.


  2. If you’re nice, your nice no matter what time it is. Thank goodness you were there, otherwise this little doll would have been shlepping in the fucking rain for 54 cents! Tell that girl Lisa said “act like you would if someone were watching.” Sadly, I think you’re right about the looks, which just makes it worse.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. skinnyuz2b says:

    Doesn’t the Starbucks have one of those penny dishes that people leave their pennies in for anyone who needs it? They usually have a ton of change in them.
    You said the perfect thing, Susannah, “You’d do it for me ..”. I’ve used that refrain myself on many occasions, as well as had it used on me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Elle Knowles says:

    There are kind people in the world. You just have to know where to find them, and Ms ‘Garish’ found you. I bet she would come through for you if needed! ~Elle

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow! At my SB a person can contribute a free coffee for someone who comes in without money (mostly homeless people use it). Also our baristas know us regulars and would let us pay the next time. Once there was an issue with my coffee. The next time I came through they gave me a free one even though it was a different barista. I asked how he know about my previous experience. He said there was a note left by the first barista. And this is why I love my SB.


  6. Patricia says:

    We all need a friend to help us out now and then, something Starbucks Snotty hasn’t learned yet. Maybe someday you and Shorty will trade make-up and fashion tips. That will be an interesting post.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. MJ says:

    Bless your heart again, Susannah! It’s curious that this garish little lady would have all those shopping bags in tow at such an early hour. Is she homeless, or en route to—or from—a menial job at some low-end venue? No doubt she has a story, but I wonder how often she experiences kindness like yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love how you stand up for the little guy, no pun intended. I think Snotty, the bitchy barista should be a character in a novel. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Susannah, I wish you were one of the rich people in the world. The good you’d do. But, you already are rich, because you have one of the biggest hearts I know. I hope that barista doesn’t forget the lesson you taught her.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.