Thursday, December 1, 2011

On the Efficacy of Certain Botanicals

As a tender of tea, I am often asked by the sick (and near dead), what teas will make them feel better.

As a tender of tea in Cambridge, Massachusetts, many of the people I encounter are mean and insane.

This morning, I told a woman on the phone that I wouldn't have her tea ready and waiting for her ten minutes before opening. She paused, then spoke.

"That's just not going to work for me... Becky."

I hate it when people remember my name so that they can try to manipulate me with it later. It's a common technique used by cult members. I took a course on cults in high school, and more to the point, I went to college in a shark tank, so I was prepared to respond:

"It's just going to have to work for you... Thanks!"

Some of these people aren't mean. They're just melting from disease. One of our regular customers came in last week. If we're talking desserts, he's usually a macaroon. Last week, he was old custard. It looked like if you left him on a warm windowsill, he would drip and stain the counter. A cursory examination revealed that he had a medieval plague.

"What..." he panted from the exertion of pushing his chair in, "What can you give me for a cold?" He sneezed and produced a maelstrom of snot.

"Nothing." I crossed myself for fear and took a step back.
"Seriously. I'll take anything."
"Seriously, there is nothing here that will save you. You need penicillin. Possibly experimental treatment."

He left a film of mucous behind him like Jabba the Hutt. I was relieved when he left.

Exhibit B is my favorite kind of customer. The kind that is obviously sick, and it becomes clear within ten seconds that they deserve to be that way.

Today a girl came up to the counter, eyes clouded, sniffling loudly, asking what I'd recommend for a cold. I gave her some ginger and ginseng, and she smiled and said she felt better already. Then she ordered a chocolate croissant with powdered sugar.


The all-time winner has GOT to be the next lady.

"What kinds of teas do you have for a cold?"
"Well, we have a lot of great herbals! Do you-"
"Just give me something that works."
"Well, I-"
"Look, I really don't care. I just want the best one you have."
"Our medicinal blend has rooibos, lemongrass, ginger, ginseng, and chamomile!"
"I want a large."
"Great! I'll-"
"I want it steeped in hot chocolate."
"Um... I don't think it'll really. You know what? Never mind. What kind of milk would you like?"
"Whipped cream?"

I don't think I need to say more. If you steep your medicinal tea blend in hot chocolate with whipped cream, there is no herb on this green planet that will save you.

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