1475 c/o Chris East

Mrs Gardner

Nero Coffee Shop opened for the first time and Mrs Gardner walked in through the doors. What can I have for free? she says to the BARISTA. Y'know, for the kids?

What? No nothing. What? How can I help? The young man behind the counter is confused and taken aback by this small Irish woman and her question. He was trained for 1 week at the Nero headquarters. No one taught him what to say if someone asks for something for nothing. What kids?

My kids, my grandkids. They're outside see. The young man looks out and sees three teenagers in tracksuits and trainers. He wonders if the small Irish woman's approach ever works. He figures that if she asks in every store on this high street, every day, forever, then the law of averages must be in her favour. She is not begging. This is different to that. It's something better. Give me something, a treat for the kids. He thinks for a long moment and looks around the counter top for clues or ideas.

During his training, the young Barista was taught that 'the customer is always right' and he knew it was bullshit. The customer is usually wrong until corrected and then they are right. The customer asks questions or makes requests, and questions or requests just can not be simply 'right'. He thinks, the responses to these questions and requests can be right or wrong, however subjective that 'right' or that 'wrong' may be. This thinking is frowned upon at a corporate level. They don't have to deal with the shit.

The young man behind the counter decides that the old woman is right. Mrs Gardner is right. He reaches into a bag of coffee beans, imported from somewhere neither of them will ever care to visit, and drops a handful of the fresh beans in to the Irish woman's hands. There you go madam, think nothing of it. He is not sure what the Irish woman could possibly plan to do with a handful of coffee beans but she does seem contented.

Thank you son. The kids will be dead happy with this. She turns slowly and then walks off towards the doors. At this point the new Nero Coffee Shop on the high street is only 5 minutes old. See you tomorrow, Mrs Gardner calls back over her shoulder, without turning her head or breaking stride.