Saturday, April 18, 2009

I Ordered Decaf; Get it Right

This blog and my newspaper column, which ran in local newspapers from 1993 until late last year when it became a victim of the bad economy, is called Over Coffee. As I explained in one my early columns, I got the name from another column that ran in the Edinburg Daily Courier, my hometown newspaper, in the late 1960s. I wrote a daily weather forecast and almanac piece in the paper back then and the Over Coffee column contained some of the ramblings of my editor, Bill Hale.

Anyway, I have been drinking coffee since I was five years old. Back then, I took it with a lot of cream and a lot of sugar. I still do, except replace the sugar with artificial sweetener. I also loved, and still enjoy from time to time, a concoction made by crumbling a biscuit into overly-sweet coffee and cream with a tad of butter. Don’t laugh until you try it.

Throughout my young adult life, and up until the time I was in my early 40s, I didn’t think much about caffeine. I drank regular coffee or decaf; it made no difference to me. My father was a decaf drinker. He said caffeine made him nervous.

Then, I started developing some anxiety. I even had a panic attack occasionally. As they became more numerous, my doctor advised eliminating caffeine. I also have had a heart arrhythmia since I was 18. It is exacerbated by too much caffeine. And the effects started to become more pronounced as I grew older.

So now, I avoid caffeine like the plague. I still like coffee in the morning, but usually one or two cups will do. I’m not one of those people who have to have a cup next to them all day. But I make sure I always drink decaffeinated coffee and caffeine-free soft drinks.

So when I order coffee in a restaurant, I always ask the waitress when she brings it to me if, indeed, the cup contains decaf. I don’t want to be rude, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

There is a new Dunkin’ Donuts franchise that opened in downtown Indianapolis recently and I’ve started to drop by on Friday mornings on my way to work for a cup of decaf and a donut. Sometimes I’ll stop on Thursdays, too. But the first time I stopped, I happened to notice the server pouring regular coffee. She brought it to me and I told her I had ordered decaf.

Well, she replaced it and apologized. But the next time I stopped in for my donut and coffee, the same thing happened. I figured I better make sure I watch what they pour from now on.

It’s a good thing, because for seven times in a row I ordered decaf and the lady behind the counter always poured regular. It got to the point where I would tell them the number of times in a row it had happened, and they started taking off the price of my donut from the order.

I’m all for free donuts, but one should not have to keep a constant vigil on the professional coffee pourers to make sure they are giving you what you order. They probably think that decaf is just a preference for me and that having to drink regular coffee is no big deal. But it is.

If I drank a large cup of regular coffee, it would most likely trigger a panic attack and heart arrhythmia at work. It is a health concern. Servers who work in restaurants or behind the counter of donut shops should keep that in mind when serving coffee to their customers. For most, it’s probably not a huge deal. For others, like me, it can make a big difference to our well being.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

My brother in law has a wheat allergy and I know 2 other people that deal with the same condition. As a result I've started taking note of all the wheat and glutton free food that is available. Now wheat is in more things than you might expect, but there are a lot of alternative made specifically for this reason. For this, and some other reasons, I believe this is actually a relatively common allergy. Yet, often when we're in a restaurant servers aren't sure if this thing or that contains wheat and seem willing to just guess at it. Don't guess, their health is on the line here. How can one be in the food business and not pay attention to what's in the food (or coffee for that matter)?