Color of a Paper Bag

Back in my retail days, my only saving grace was when my manager, Dave, would send me out on a coffee run. That would allow me momentary freedom from being trapped in the store with annoyed customers, anal supervisors, and grumbling sales associates.

Dave would send me to the Coffee Bean on the Farmer’s Market side. There were two Starbucks locations within the vicinity of the store, but most of us would opt to go to the other major coffee chain instead: the coffee was cheaper, it didn’t taste like it had been cremated, and the people behind the counter were friendlier. Add a 10% discount (I think that was to be applied towards FM people, but they’d hook up Grove peeps), and you bet your ass we were there all the time.

I knew it was time for coffee when he’d come by with a five dollar bill. (If we had just been paid, he’d slip in another few bucks so I could get a cup as well.) As he checked me out/watched me do “jazz hands,” Dave would ask for his usual.

“Large drip with four Sugars In The Raw and make it the color of a paper bag.”

I used to laugh at his request for cream, but it proved to be helpful later on.

Once I climbed the ranks of Corporate America to my current position, I found that I had more mundane tasks to complete, coffee runs being one of them. Often times my bosses would request cream in their coffee but would use the terms “a lot” or “just a little bit.” Problem is, one person’s “little bit” is another person’s “a lot.” In order to make a good impression (having just been promoted to the Executive Office), I used Dave’s terminology.

“Would you like your coffee the color of a paper bag?”

My bosses, as well as any other manager within earshot, would look at me with a puzzled expression. Semi-exasperated (my bosses had the fate of 600+ employees in their hands and color references confuse them?!), I’d repeat my statement. As soon as the penny dropped, they would tell me what color they take their coffee.

And here I thought my time spent in retail wouldn’t amount to anything. :p

So thank you, Dave, for providing me with the skill of getting cream and coffee mixes correct. You have prepped me well for my venture into Corporate America.

  1. I love Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. I don’t do coffee, but hot chocolate, and their hot chocolate is way superior to Starbucks. Thanks for the paper bag tip – it’s a really good idea.

    • njudah
    • September 9th, 2009 6:36pm

    you know, that is actually a sensible solution. it’s not about the quantity it’s about the end result. Some people like a hint of cream or milk or whatever, and some like it half coffee and half white stuff.

    now I wanna see you do jazz hands.

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