I adore being a "regular". There's something so wonderful about pulling into the parking lot, walking in the door, getting a personal greeting, along with the question, "The usual?".
Well, in the cae of my mocha habit, the lovely people behind the counter ask wisely, "Will it be a regular or a large today?" Not, "What can I get you?" or "Can I help you?" There is no need to tell these baristas that I would like a skim raspberry mocha, without a bean, but with whipped cream.
It's also unexpectedly pleasing that once in a blue moon, they will see my car pulling up, and start making my drink right then, so all I need do is give them my money, tell them to have a nice day, and hear them say, as they always do, "See you tomorrow!" Or, on a lovely Friday, "Have a good weekend!". And they mean that.
When I was back in Champaign, this same thing would occur at a local diner. Every Tuesday, CK and I would leave work about 10am, and get breakfast, as neither of us ate before we went to work. I would always have two eggs, hashbrowns, and dry wheat toast. I don't remember what he would get, but it was always the same as well.
The short-order cook, who was also the shift manager, whas the epitomy of cool. I loved watching him work, how he'd put my sunny-side up eggs on the back of the burner while working on 4 orther orders. He had a pillsbury dough boy key ring that stuck out of the back pocket of his well-worn jeans. CK and I would strike up conversations with him, asking about the intracacies of making an omlet (he said the best way was to get a job at a hotel making omlets for four ours a day in little pans), and other things in a short order cook's life. CK had a secret desire to be a short order cook, and I think our cook would probably have let him do it for a bit, if it weren't for insurance reasons.
Occasionally, dough-boy would be replaced by another cook of hispanic descent, who worked as if he were on a high dose of amphetamines; he was a sight to behold at the wheel of the griddle. Flipping and turning and moving all in quick jerky motions, but my hashbrowns always came out perfect.
Dough-boy used to like to try and surprise the new waitresses when we came in as usual, by starting our order as soon as he saw the car pull up. By the time we parked the car, and walked into the diner -- I can't quite call it a restaurant -- and the waitress took our orders, the food would be ready. She'd hand the ticket to the dough-boy cook, and he'd smile and say 'Your order's up!". The look of surprise on her face was priceless.
Yes, it's a wonderful feeling to be asked, "The usual?"