My wife always told me Croatians are rough around the edges. In other words, they often come across rude when you first meet them – but then after you get to know them they're the friendliest people in the world. Although it's a generalization - and there are always exceptions - I've found her description to be quite accurate. Many times I wish I saw more smiles or friendly faces in Croatia.
So today I'm at a local Austin, Texas Starbucks. I order a plain grande coffee. The lady pleasantly asks if I'd like her to leave some room for cream. I say “yes please”. She continues:
“Would you like whip cream on top?”
“No, thanks” I reply
“Would you like a dash of our new Christmas cinnamon sprinkles?”
“No, thanks” I repeat
“Well you just don’t want any of our little treats to make your coffee better do you?” She said playfully.
Taken aback I reply: “Well I thought your coffee was supposed to be good by itself.”
It was right around “coffee” that I heard what was coming out of my mouth and decided to add a smile to my rather rude retort.
“Smart aleck” she said, and the conversation ended there. I left to look for the cream and sugar. “Man, I’m a jerk” I thought to myself.
Have I become rough around the edges? I mean, my purpose in going to the coffee shop is to get some coffee. I’m certainly not opposed to some friendly banter, but I’ve taken the “let your yes be yes…” verse to heart. Adding cinnamon to my coffee doesn’t need to be a negotiation.
I guess I’ve changed. Is it for the worse?
Fortunately, I had a chance to recover. When I went back for a refill she asked if I had a twin and gave me a wink. “He looks just like a guy who was here a half hour ago” she explained to her coworker.
“No, actually we’re triplets” I responded as if the wink were perfectly normal. “The third one should be here soon.”
As they say: “When in Rome…”
Sooner or later I’ll have to act like an American again.