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20160319_120221-1It’s early. I have only a few minutes, but I choose to stop.

I pull into the drive-through. An excited, bubbly, and obviously recorded female voice comes from the speaker, “Welcome to McDonald’s! Would you like to try one of our extra value breakfast meals?!”

Feeling well greeted, “No thanks,” I say.

A different voice assumes the controls. “Go ahead when you are ready,” he says as though he’s already tired of me.

“I just need a medium black coffee.”

“Could you repeat that?” he moans.

“I just need a medium black coffee.”

Upon the screen appears a small coffee.

“No, um, sorry, I need a medium coffee.”

Nearly bored to death, “Do you want cream with that?”

“Uh, no. Nothing in it, please. I want a medium black coffee.”

“Ok. Your total is (garble-garble-garble as he somehow manages to get something between his mouth and the headset microphone).” Sighing, he concludes, “Please pull forward to the first window.”

I pull ahead to the first window. No one is there. I wait. Eventually, I gather enough courage to pull forward to the second window.

We meet, and he’s everything I expected – indifferent stare, offended posture, disinterested tone.

“A dollar five,” he says. I hand him the exact amount already knowing that my bill should be a bit costlier. He hands me a small coffee and two creamers.

I say nothing, humbly accepting a morning dosage of mere adequacy.

My evening is only a slight revision.

Having already been taxed by the day’s events, almost more so than I could bear, I make a straight line from the front door to the whisky cabinet. There is the Aberfeldy 12-year-old, unopened and beside the more handsome and also unopened Benriach 20-year-old. I have only a few minutes before surrendering to sleep, and I choose the Aberfeldy.

Sluggish, I remove the plastic encasing the cork, give a little twist and then a lift. It comes clean from the bottle with a crisp report and a brisk passing of peated honey. In the glass, this remains, but there too arises a slighter “something” of a custard, but as hard candy.

Feeling as though the dawn-to-dark has chosen to end much more easily than it began, the first sample of the promising amber prompts me to recall that the day’s first attendant was uninvolved and adequate, barely desiring to serve, but this one holds employment there, as well, although it is bearing a rigid smile, a zealous apron of flare pins, and distant eyes. It is far too cloying – more candy, more custard, and something new – a syrup of ground walnuts and cinnamon. It seems unnaturally sweetened.

Tired by its medium voice, which continues to recite the menu previously described, I finish the dram, pour into the same glass a short depth of water, retire to my quarters and bed.

In the darkness, my wife is puzzled to hear me say, “Tomorrow, I intend to make my own coffee.”