We walked into the cafe in the middle of the lunch rush. It had that industrial-rustic-chic decor that has taken over the US in the past 15 years. Am I in a country store or an abandoned warehouse, I’m not sure. All these places look alike – exposed HVAC duct work, “distressed” wood floors and tables with some metal accents, large chalk board and minimalist light fixtures. I’m sure this decor is described in the first chapter of the Gentrification 101 Handbook. To be fair, I liked this look the first 15,294 times that I saw it.
Unfamiliar with the particulars of this cafe, we grabbed a menu and got in the 10 people deep line. By the time we got to the register we were just about ready to order. The part of BA (Basic @sshole) will be played by the cashier.
Me: Hi, how big are the sandwiches here? We’re thinking of sharing.
BA: (audible eye roll) They’re….(hesitation, he wanted to say basic, I know he did)…Uh, normal.
Me: OK, we’ll get the chicken salad sandwich with a side salad and a bag of chips. I’ll take a coffee as well.
Friend: Do you have any fountain drinks?
BA: (gasp, with momentary look of horror) Noooo
Friend: Um, OK I’ll get a water.
BA: Take this number and put it on your table, hands me my coffee.
I begin to pay with a credit card. Of course they have the Apple register here, required apparatus (it’s in the Handbook). BA can’t wait for me to finish signing my name on the display and huffs over to the other register to start the next order, clearly annoyed that I haven’t moved on yet.
My friend and I look at each other like “WTF was that about” and search for seating. We had to settle for one of those community style tables (check that off the requirements list, it’s in the Handbook).
I got up to fix my coffee and grab a a few napkins. That’s when I realized that BA was simply towing the corporate line because I saw this above the napkins:
I looked around and realized the median age was probably 23 and my friend and I were not the desired demographic. Then I noticed the chalkboard, it took over an entire wall. And then I smiled a little because it wasn’t current. I suspect they ran out of sustainably farmed chalk, that’s the only viable explanation.