Quad Shot, Port Bow.

The morning routine requires a stop at the local Starbucks to retrieve the necessary liquid start of the day.

On this day, the parking lot was completely full and vehicles had begun to form a line, backing up east bound traffic on the El Camino Real.

Already running late I computed the alternative locations.

The closest Starbucks is one mile west but one mile north, sandwiched between Vons and Fantastic Sams. It’s a location that I have had previous bad experiences with, but on this morning I decided to see if management had changed the place for the better — A two roads diverged kind of thing.

I approached the door, apprehensive that I would open it and find the butt-end of a fifty person conga line. Not the kind of thing a person in a hurry wants to see. And I was definitely in a hurry, or at least not patient enough for the type of chit-chat that takes place while waiting for the baristas to figure out how to do their jobs.

“I need my caffeine,” or “no yawning, that’s not allowed.” That kind of blank conversation that would neither qualify as a mediocre ice breaker or nervous rambling at twelve-step program, let alone acceptable in a line of grumpy, barely awake consumers.

It reminds me of one such morning when half of California (or so it seemed) was in line. I’m at the back of the mermaid meet-and-greet when the door opens behind me with such a rush that it created a small vacuum. The person entered and quickly scanned the coffee convention, turns to me and asks, “are you in line?” Instinctively my left eyebrow raised just a tad while the chin slants slightly downward, and a little to the right.

“No, no, we’re just waiting for napkins,” I say with the best used car salesman grin I can muster.

I watch as their brain processes the information I provided, along with another visual scan. This is followed by an analysis of all the data that had been received — I can almost see the electrons scurrying around, trying to formulate the correct response.

In my mind I start cheering — “round peg in the round whole!” Then louder, “round peg in the round whole!”

Eyes forward, the mouth breather stares back for a second and then the brain responds (ding!). The output came in the form of rolled eyes with a twitchy pout, a slouch held up by the left leg, and a long puffy sigh.

I turn and grin to myself. The response to this interaction was almost as good as the iced latte I’m about to order.