Sunday, December 23, 2007

Les Miserables

The Nespresso Boutique on rue du Bac has been mayhem lately. Every time I've swung by in the past two weeks, it's been packed tighter than the rush-hour métro, with lines about 20 clients deep at each cash register. I simply don't do lines like that -- not even for beloved Nespresso. So I haven't even set foot inside. As a result, I've been out of my precious Ristretto capsules for a week, and have been forced to revert to the antediluvian method of Melitta drip coffee. Sort of a caffeine version of methadone, if you're a Nespressoholic.

This evening we happened to be crossing rue du Bac as we headed home, and the Nespresso shop looked slightly less full, so I decided to give it a try. The slim young security guard opened the door to let us in. There were about 15 people inside, patiently waiting in a central line. It was moving blessedly swiftly as they completed their transactions. If you own a Nespresso machine, you understand my sense of mounting rapture as I approached the caisse to make my purchase. Ah! Good coffee at home again! I was feverish in anticipation.

Then something happened. A small, well-heeled group began gathering outside the entrance, and the guard wouldn't let them in. He was under strict orders: the boutique had to close its doors at 6 pm, so no more customers were allowed in after 5:45. Indignant, they began arguing their case. It started with pleading. "Mais nous avons téléphoné -- but we called, you said you were open until 6 pm." The guard stood fast. No way was he letting them in the door. More customers arrived. The mob was getting outraged, and I honestly expected a brawl to begin. These folks were PISSED. They wanted their Nespresso capsules, and they wanted them NOW.

Well. You know that feeling of smugness when you're on the inside and others want to be there, but they're not? (Kinda like snagging the last Cabbage-Patch Doll , Tickle-Me Elmo or iPhone.) Okay, I admit it -- I was smug in spades. God forgive me. We stood demurely in line, analyzing George Clooney's seductive pose on the store poster, trying to pretend that we didn't notice the frantic antics outside. I wasn't proud of this feeling. I felt their pain.

The kind clerk at the cash register was so courteous and solicitous. "Is there anything else I can help you with?" she asked multiple times, as if we had hours to select more Nespresso products.

By the time we finished our transaction one lady in the clamoring crowd outside was shrieking at the guard, "Alors, if I order on line, are you going to deliver them to me and pay for the shipping?" It looked as though they were going to use brute force to stampede through the doors.

We sauntered out, proud shopping-bag of capsule boxes daintily in hand as we squeezed our way through the fracas. (In hindsight, if I'd been really scheming and evil, I could have bought hundreds of boxes and scalped them right on the spot. Damn.)

Oh well. Let them drink drip.
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