Towns called Windsor dot the states, as do a handful in England (in Berkshire, Cornwall and Lincolnshire) where I presume the name originated. The Windsor to which I live closest (besides the replica of Windsor Castle made of wine corks in my neighbor?s garage) is the town of Windsor, CA, which one drives passed on Hwy 101 en route to Healdsburg (the ?New Sonoma? according to the Wine Spectator a couple years ago and to the great chagrin of those from the town of Sonoma).
In recent years, Windsor has endeavored to harness some of that drive-by traffic for more than the former? Windsor Waterworks and Slides, a perennial class field-trip when I was a kid. Though it hasn?t opted for a wine-slide for adults (though it should), the city has invested heavily in bringing its downtown new life and has attracted at least one top-tier restaurant in Mirepoix, which I?ve personally had the pleasure of experiencing (I?m sure there are others that I?ll someday discover). Even the local caf? culture has received a healthy injection of hipness.
That said, let?s examine today?s experience at a coffeehouse I?ll call ?Caf? Purgatorio.? Happily reminiscent of the cafes that first percolated throughout the county during the first era of espresso-consciousness circa the mid-80s (preceding the proliferation of Starbucks by several years), Caf? Purgatorio is a clean, well-lighted place for blokes like me in search of a cuppa and wifi while on assignment.
As I stood and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited for any sign of counter-intelligence to emerge, I finally resorted to calling the caf? on my cell phone to inform whomever might be running the joint that I was waiting to order. I began to feel like a cast reject from something by Beckett. After an inordinate amount of rings, a kid named ?Joe? answered (names have been changed to protect the indolent).
I informed Joe that I had been waiting at the counter. Of course, he didn?t understand, so ill-equipped was he to apprehend that someone might want to purchase, say, a cup of coffee, from a coffee shop. I thought of walking off with the cash drawer, but instead reiterated that I was still waiting at the counter and hung up. A lanky young man finally loped into existence from the kitchen. I asked him what the hell was happening back there and he explained that he had been on the phone, followed by his break. I apologized for interrupting his break, but seeing as he was the only employee in the caf? and I was his only customer, I thought his employers might agree that he had a professional obligation to take my order.
Joe was friendly enough, a stray pup type ? all shag and wagging tail. I asked how he felt about a particular flavor of cream cheese for the asiago-encrusted bagel I very nearly decided to steal. He said he wasn?t much into bagels and wouldn?t know. I risked it and ordered a coffee as well. I asked for the wifi code and proceeded to explain that I would sit as I waited for the order, the subtle suggestion being that he might consider bringing it to me. Why would I expect Joe to go ten feet out of his way? I didn?t. I merely hoped that he might elect to perform a redemptive act of courtesy so I wouldn?t have to leave my laptop unattended to retrieve my order. Of course, this didn?t happen. Twice.
First, I was summoned to retrieve the bagel, then later, mysteriously, the coffee. From his blissful smile, I had concluded that Joe wasn?t evil, just oblivious ? especially when, once I hunkered down to work, he turned up the music. I would have murdered him had the dreary tunes not first inspired me to kill myself.
Everyone is a ?town ambassador? when tourism is part of the local economy. Clearly, Joe was not hip to this nor I suspect, do his employers know the lax way business is conducted in their absence. The net result is an unsatisfying experience that those seeking a reason to stop in Windsor associate with the town as much as the establishment. Am I just a Windsore curmudgeon, or should I just wait for the wine-slide? Discuss.