7 Minute Stories by Aaron Calafato
Episode 53 - My way on the highway
You're listening to seven minute stories with Aaron Calafato , this episode: My way on the highway
AARON CALAFATO - STORY
You're listening to 7 Minute Stories with Aaron Calafato. This episode: My way on the highway.
So I was going to start this story with me aggressively driving my car into the front parking lot of a Dunkin Donuts and then running inside to scream at the two employees.
But I figured let's give some context to what brought me to this moment. And let's go back in time 15 minutes to see how we got here.
I was driving along the highway. I was so happy. I knew I wanted a cup of coffee. So I was on my way there. But in the meantime, I was just listening to music chillin out. In fact, I was listening to Eric Clapton's Layla.. a more contemporary version. You know what I'm saying: "Layla...Bom bom got me on my knees Layla" that one. And I thought, I'm cross generational. I really am. I mean I can listen to jazz I can listen to hip hop I can listen to heavy metal, punk rock,ambient soundtrack music. I can listen to American standards. I'm all over the place and I've been like that with music.
But to me that speaks to a larger goal of mine, which is to not be just be stuck in my generation or my thought process as I get older. I never wanted to be that guy. And one of the reasons why I never wanted to be that guy was a story that my father told me about he and his dad. Ironically they're driving in the car. It's the early 1970s about 1971 , 72. My dad's a teenager. I think he's like 17 at the time and he's in the front seat. My grandfather is driving and my grandfather, who I admire, you've heard a lot of stories about him.. loved American standards. Loved crooners and Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra.
I love those guys too. My grandfather would jam on that in the car and I think he was listening to, in this story, was listening to Frank Sinatra's version of "My Way". And he's singing. And as the song ends, my dad turns to his father and says; "Hey can I change the channel?" My grandfather obliges. And my dad turns the channel to this rock song by Derek And The Dominos featuring Eric Clapton and it's the earlier version of Layla.
But the rock and roll version you know the one that (mouthed guitar sound) I know I have perfect pitch. But you know the guitar riff, it's legendary. And my dad's jammin and he looks over to his father for approval and my grandfather says these words: "That's not music, that's crap!". And what he does is essentially builds up a generational wall between he and his son. And so I never wanted to be like that. And so as I'm in my car driving to this Dunkin Donuts, I take pride in the fact that I'm essentially making a wrong right.
I'm living out a dream that maybe my father would have loved to see. Someone of any age, listening to music that he digs, without judgment. But maybe the way I approached things, maybe my belief that I wasn't stuck into a generation, was about to change. So I pull into the Dunkin Donuts and I order my usual I said "Can I please have a medium cup hot coffee with two creams and two sugars" LADY SAYS "PULL AROUND". Sounds a little angry but that's OK. I pull around to the front window the girl 17 to 18 years old.
She looks at me. She kind of looks through me. She's annoyed by me. I never say anything to her. I've never met her before but she's kind of acting that way. So I give her my card. She takes the card. She swipes the card. She gives her the card back. It's a 1.80 off my card. She hands me a cup of coffee. The cup of coffee,when I open it and take a drink, is lukewarm. In fact, it's not just lukewarm. It's the kind of cold that is almost purposeful. The kind of cold that has been sitting there for eight hours and someone forgot to turn on the burner and it's just like sludge with coffee grounds. And I said you know I'm not going to drive away. I'm not going to do this. So, I knock on the window, nicely, and she comes back and I say: "excuse me you gave me a cold cup of coffee, this is really bad. Do you just mind if I have a hot cup. Maybe you could put it in the microwave?" And then she rolls her eyes and says "If I do that that means I have to make you a whole new cup of decaf, which means I have to brew a whole new pot sir." And I said "OK well then do that". And she says "FINE". And she slams the window. I lose my mind. I don't sit there in the drive through anymore. I pull around violently to the front parking lot.
..Now we're back at the beginning of the story which I started ....and I jump out of my car and I run into the Dunkin Donuts. There's no one (customers) there and I'm power walking with a generation of anger behind me. And I say "Excuse me!" I see the girl. I see another girl. Their eyes are wide open because I'm holding them accountable and they're not used to this. I say "excuse me. What seems to be the problem?" She goes "sir, I told you I'd make you another cup!". I said "No you didn't.
You acted as if it was my fault that you gave me a cup of garbage, and then made me feel bad by asking for what I paid for." And then here it came. I said That's not good service. That's not good service at all. That's crap" It echoed into the universe.
I have become my grandfather. And then I said "I want a refund, right now. I don't even want a cup of coffee." And she goes "I can't give you a refund." I said "why?" She says "my manager's not here." I said, "well then call her!" She goes "I can't give out her personal cell phone and she's not available right now." She said "you're gonna have to come tomorrow or Monday morning." I said "You tell me I have to come tomorrow morning to get a refund.
I have to drive back. You're not going to give me my money back?' She goes "there's nothing I can do about it sir!"
And so, my head nearly exploded and I stormed out of the Dunkin Donuts ,and in fact, by doing that what happened was I allowed myself to be robbed by a 17 year old girl at Dunkin Donuts.... She gave me a coffee, which was bad, I gave it back to her. She then, took my money wouldn't give it back and told me to come back tomorrow. That's the life I'm living...
And I jump in my car and I'm fuming but I'm thinking to myself "Is this me?" Have I become this old man this old man better driving around yelling at people because I didn't get the senior discount on my coffee.
Have I become that generational divide? and then I realize... No dude, you're cool. You listen Eric Clapton! You got the best parts of your grandfather and your dad and you're making an effort. The difference is, you didn't account for one thing that also crosses the generations. Whether it's the early times of the Mesopotamia or Civil War era or the boom of Wall Street in the 80s. Doesn't matter what time, place, space or edifice you're in or belong to.. Whatever. Country. State. City.
It doesn't matter. One thing that transcends the generations are assholes! Assholes are with us all the time, and you just gotta figure out a way to avoid them, live with them or get past them. And I felt confident when I came to that realization.
So confident that I turned on oldies radio and you know what came on? it was the Frank Sinatra version of "My Way". I think the writers were Claude Francois and Paul Anka.. but you know this song "My Way" when Frank Sinatra sings it. And here are the lyrics I want to leave you with that I was listening to as I puff my chest out.....
"For what is a man? What has he got? If not himself. Then he has naught. To say the things, he truly feels, and not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows and did it MY WAY....
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