424. Have I got a deal for you


 

So the new manager of my coffee shop has been making changes rapidly since he showed up less than a year ago to replace the lovely and inimitable Andrea, who moved on to work against sex trafficking. Andrea replaced Krista, who works with kids and got married. After Mitch left to lead worship services at my church. After Jake, Shelly, Jana, Sam and Emily and hundreds more barristas served their time in the coffee trenches. They come and go like Haitian presidents. Unlike Haitian presidents, however, they usually leave public service alive.

Which brings me to Nokay the newby and his almost able assistant Ong. They are housemates and friends on top of being employer/employee, which needs to be investigated soon by a federal agency before the Orange Emperor eliminates all such agencies. The boys are young and vital. Nokay the unmanager has been making executive orders as if he were a diabetic checking his blood sugar three times daily, then writing orders in a single drop of blood. Every day brings another change into the monkey cage of Coffee Nation. There is the soda case, the new table arrangements, menu changes, oaky decor overhaul, and more. But he has gone too far with his latest gimmickry.

On the wall behind the bulging soda/salad/parfait case Nokay had erected an exclusive coffee club cubby station rack of time shares for elite, by invitation only members.  I noticed it going up and slowly filling with black and blue logoed coffee mugs advertising the shop. At first I thought it was an attractive display of overpriced coffee mugs made in China. More wall art with a sales angle. Then neatly typed names began to appear below these mugs. Other mugs appeared to break up the black and blue monotony. “How nice”, I naively thought to myself, “a personal holding rack for regulars. How considerate. I may have misjudged Nokay.”

Then it got real yesterday around noon. Nokay approached me with the deal of the year as I waited for Ong to bring me a cup of delicious Tuscan Tortellini soup.

“Burrito, would you like to join the exclusive, elite, for members only coffee cubby?”

“Well, that depends on the deal.”

“Okay, let’s talk turkey.”

“As my ghost writer said in The Fart of the Deal, ‘Always negotiate from strength’.”

“Um, the terms are simple:  for $75 you can join and then drink all the coffee you want for a year at only $1.00 per cup. You get your own black and blue mug and a name tag.”

At this point his other bean lackey Grace offered to type up the paperwork and print the neat label on the cubby of my choice.

“Slow your roll, Marla Marbles. I’m working a deal here. It’s gonna be huge. I’ve talked with a lot of generals and the border patrol and they all agree with me.” Turning back to Nokay, “My price point is $50. You keep the mug.”

“I can’t do that. The mugs are worth $10 each.”

“Stop! You sell them for ten bucks, but you buy them for less than two bucks from China. The mug is off the table. I’ll provide my own Bob Dylan mug.”

Ong arrives. “How about a hug from me to sweeten the deal?”

“No hugs, no mugs, no drugs. Shut up, Ong. I’m working a deal here. It’s gonna be huge. Look at these hands. Call the generals. People love me.”

Nokay, “Here’s what I can do… $65.00 without a mug, plus your pick of old tee shirts which sell for $12.00 to folks who don’t know any better. And a free sample bag of stale coffee.”

“Again, I have several of those tee shirts. I wear them when I want to appear anonymous. They work like bug spray to repel sighted humans. Plus, I have my own custom made coffee shop tee shirt with my title and logo on it. And, under the belly line, printed upside down, is this bold statement: ‘You need to Growaset’.”

“No, sir. You go too far.”

“It’s true. I’ll wear it this Thursday.”

Ong, “How about that hug? It’s cooled off a bit to normal body temperature.”

“Ong, hug off!! Stay behind the bar or I swear I’ll hit you with this pint of Pepsi.”

Nokay, “What are your conditions?”

“I want Bob Dylan facing right on the top shelf with lightning bolts blazing out from his face.”

“Done. Grace, get on that.”

“I want an upstream payment of $1.00 from each of the previous suckers who bought into this square ponzi scheme whose cups are ranked below mine.”

“Not done. I’m not paying you to drink coffee here for free. I’m selling you an opportunity to save hundreds of dollars in your coffee budget.”

“Your ‘savings’ require me to spend money, Nokay. If you really want to save me money instead of persuading me to part with slabs of my money, you’d meet my terms and Grace could print out those lightning bolts. Why are you being so obstructionistic? I am trying to get this economy moving toward greatness again.”

“But you’re impossible. You act like you are negotiating, but all you are doing is taking. You aren’t giving anything. Can’t we meet in the middle?”

“Son, the middle is where you stick the knife, just above the navel. Read my book.”

“Just cut to the chase.”

“I have trained your barristas in how to deal with difficult customers, true?”

Reluctantly, “Yesssss.”

“At no charge, just a gentlemen’s agreement.”

“Okay.”

“Nokay, I have blogged about your enterprise bringing in untold business to you without increasing your advertising budget.”

“But we never…”

“Silence!! I’m not finished. I have invested thousands of dollars in this business over years of faithful customerization. I haven’t tried to weaponize or monetize my loyalty… and here we are arguing over a lousy fifteen bucks. Aren’t you ashamed?”

“uhhhh, I don’t know. I’m really confused right now.”

“Okay, here’s how we will settle this:  I’m folding this five dollar bill vertically. If you can pinch it as I drop it, you win. If you can’t, I win. We’ll do this three times or until the fifteen dollars is taken care of. Deal?”

“Sure. No, it’s a trick. I’ll lose… just, okay. I’ll pay you to drink coffee for a year, plus free muffins, just stop!! My sanity is at stake here.”

“You gotta deal, son.”

“And those other fools will pay for my wall.”

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