"Yes please?" the oriental girl behind the counter; at least that is what I assume she said. It was as near as I could work it out. Her accent, a sort-of pigeon English accented with Australia words made it hard to decipher. Of course it could also be that it was just going six and that I hadn't had a cup of coffee in a while…
"Yes, thank you. A large black coffee with no sugar, please." I have learned to be specific when ordering. Some places it is the norm to add milk, others automatically sweeten it for you.
"uh…" Was this a trick question? Did they have different kinds of coffee? I looked to the menu board for some indication of the selections. Since I didn't see coffee there at all, but did see rather elaborate coffee making apparatus, I assumed that they sold coffee. "Just a large black coffee with nothing in it."
"Yah bu wha kan?" (I took that to mean "yes, but what kind.")
"I'm sorry I don't understand the question. Whatever dark roast you have would be fine."
"Okay, then I decide for you." (That was the only clear thing she said during the entire conversation.)
"I'm sorry? Decide what."
Again, from her heavily broken English I was able to pick the shards of her meaning. "We have cappuccino, café au lait, mocha…"
Frustrated now, I cut her off. "No, look. Those all have stuff in them. I just want a cup of coffee; a tall black coffee. No milk, no cream, no sugar, no chocolate. Just a black coffee, filter coffee, drip coffee, some places they call it an 'Americano' but I just want a coffee, not a milkshake."
"He wants a 'long black'" came a voice from the kitchen. "Right?"
I looked up at the cook who was looking back at me. "Black coffee with nothing in it? If that is what you call a 'Long Black' then that is what I want." He nodded assent.
I turn back to the woman at the counter. "Fha fife" she said and held out her hand.
The coffee wasn't the greatest and it was expensive to-boot, but on a cold morning in a mostly empty airport it was enough to keep me going on to my final destination! You gotta love travel, eh?
Wherever you are today, I hope that your journeys and transactions are all pleasant ones!