The Presumptiousness of Tim Horton

In today’s consumer driven world, everything is “made your way.”  I’ve come to expect it.  It’s a comforting consistency in changing times.  You order a steak, and the immediate response is “How would you like that cooked?”  This of course has led to the half-caff-skinny-no-whip-one-splenda-with-soy-chocoloate-sprinkles-and-a dusting-of-cinnamon incantations at Starbucks.  But it is – by definition – what we want.

Today is meeting day, and I was out of food.  I’m down to a bag of shredded cheddar, a handful of diet cherry colas, a couple beers, a half filled container of raspberry jam, and some olive oil.  I was facing hours upon hours of mindnumbing meetings filled with inaction and circular logic.  A full stomach could mean the difference between hours of blissful disconnected zoning out and agonizingly watching the minute hand on the clock inch closer to sustenance.

My answer was Tim Hortons.  It’s your standard coffee-chain (a la Starbucks) type of place.  They don’t seem to have spread down to Texas yet, but they’re all over up here in New England.  I ordered a large regular coffee and a bagel with cream cheese.  “What kind?” was the response to my order.  Oh yeah.  They had different kinds of bagels.  “Do you have blueberry?” I asked.  “No, but we have cinnamon raisin,” was the reply.  “Perfect!”  The last time I went to Tim Hortons, I asked for my coffee with cream and sugar.  It came out too light and too sweet for my taste.  This time, I was just going to get it black, savor the bitterness, and raid the office supplies if I needed to doctor it.

Unfortunately, Tim had other plans for me today.  I got in to the office, my coffee and bagel unopened, booted up my laptop, unwrapped my bagel, and flipped up the plastic tab on my coffee.  I took a cautious sip, expecting the hot coffee to attempt to scald my lips.  It tasted funny.  I peered into the cup, expecting the shiny dark pool of black, but there it was – light and sweet.  Amazing.  In this day and age.  I ordered a coffee, and they made it light and sweet by default.

Maybe Tim is ahead of the curve.  Facial recognition tracking software, databases, and computer networks have come a long way.  Maybe my earlier request was logged in their databases and I’ve been tagged with a ‘HortonID’ – forever relegated as “light and sweet.”  What will happen when I want something different?  Will they think they know better than I?  It can only end in a “Falling Down” style freak out…




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