Underline Coffee Made It All Better

So we're down in Chelsea and we all hate each other. I brought the kids here to check out a gallery that looked cool. I've never done a Chelsea gallery walk thing before, but I thought why not try it with a few cranking kids carrying heavy backpacks? The one I wanted to see needed reservations, which we had for 4:30pm. We arrived 15 minutes early. In the wait time my kids proceeded to have fist fights in the lobby. I start to wonder if instead we are actually 10 years too early? I knew this wasn't going to work, but I held out until 4:30 just in case. No. To the delight of the gallery girls, I gave up and walked out of the building. They didn't try to convince my family to stay.

Here we are on 20th Ave. and Ella is sprinting away because she doesn't want to be with us. Owen and Oscar are yelling at each other. I'm feeling defeated and stupid for thinking they could handle this activity.

As we proceed down the street, I see a small coffee shop called Underline Coffee that looked cool. And because that worked really well for us the last time I saw something cool, I brought the kids in to check it out.

The first thing I barked to the guy behind the counter was, "You guys accept credit card?" I still wasn't over my bad mood.

And with the biggest smile ever he responded, "Yep!"

The way he said it was so welcoming. It was like how my cousin greets my family at a family reunion. He even looked similar to him. It was time to make one thing clear to this guy so I told him straight up, "I'm the worst mood right now."

It felt good to get that out of the way. Now I could order the 3 hot chocolates for the kids, a few yogurts, and ask him for a recommendation.

And still with that bright smile of his, he says, "A classic cappuccino." Still smiling. And still smiling.

He must not be from around here, I thought. I've learned costumer service in the city is not what it is everywhere else. NYorkers tend to have a direct, almost abrasive interaction with costumers at first. The rule is that no matter how snotty they are, I must not sass back. It's hard not to mimic their behavior, but it's just the wall I have to break down before they give me a chance. This cafe guy didn't have the wall. He was just nice from the start. So much easier to deal with.

My kids could sense it too and wouldn't leave him alone as he made our drinks. Once they got their hot chocolate, they talked with him for a good half hour. I was in no mood for chit chat, so I sat as far away as I could from my kids. I couldn't help but listen their conversation. My boys were practically grilling him over his life details. They needed answers like Miles needed answers from Uncle Buck.

I overheard him say his name's Brandon. The coffee shop is only 2 weeks old. He moved here 6 months ago from Maryland to help get it ready. He now lives in New Jersey. He used to work at Dominos, then Starbucks, now here. Oscar wanted to know if he got fired from Starbucks. He did not. He quit.

"You said, 'I quit.' to your boss?" Asked Oscar, as if it's a bad word.

And again, with with a large grin, Brandon said, "Yes, I said, 'I quit!'"

Oscar responded, "You're smiling so I know your lying."

This made him laugh, so he gave a serious face and said, "I said, 'I quit.'"

Oscar responded, "You're still smiling."

And finally the mood in me switched. And I realized this time, I was that direct, almost abrasive NYorker I loathed in stores. My kids and I eventually left the shop and walked the Highline then had dinner in Chelsea Market. While the night wasn't a perfect after our stop to Underline Coffee, I can definitely say it changed the mood of the evening. It's all due to Brandon not mimicking my behavior. He may have moved here only 6 months ago, but he's learning fast how to deal with us grumps.

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  1. Even your bad looks awesome! :)

  2. I was sorta put-off reading how you treated him in the beginning, so I'm glad I'm glad your attitude changed! :) then again, I live in the midwest where people tend to be overly friendly.... ;)

  3. Ah, loved this. Can totally relate even tho I have no kids. I had a super similar experience a few weeks ago. It was a crazy day where nothing seemed to go right. I ended up at Storyville Coffee (a small new place above Pike Place in Seattle) & the guys working there were SO SWEET. It instantly changed my mood! The free chocolate cake helped too ;) Great post :)

  4. I love your vignettes! Your honesty and humor always make me smile. Wish you would write a book.

  5. Oh I can totally relate. It's the worst when you are trying to do something fun with everyone and they don't seem to appreciate it. Your kids probably made his day too, glad it worked out happy in the end.

  6. I needed this one today! Thanks!

  7. I love when i come here and i find something new... i've missed you!

  8. That's why I love New York. You can feel totally bedraggled and then suddenly you see a guy belting out show tunes in a full volume falsetto as he drives around the neighborhood, and you're like...well that guy's loving life right now, huh?

  9. That first line totally made me smile (and reminiscent of so many family vacation growing up where my parents tried really hard to take us someplace fabulous like Disney and we just all waited in line all day and ended up hating each other).

  10. I love your writing. So honest and hilarious. It really is refreshing to read your blog. I look forward to checking it everyday.

  11. That was such an awesome story. You never read good writing like this on blogs anymore, it actually had a beginning, a middle and an end! Also so honest, and you have just given me a great coffee rec for my NY trip next month. :)

    Way to go Brandon!

  12. Love this story. I hope Brandon won't become callous and sarcastic like the rest of us when NY works on breaking his spirit down each day.

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