“I would like” — very slowly

— By the way the customer articulated the first item of his order the attendant successively intuited there would be three items in his order.

Attendant has come to feel that people will employ different rhetorical devices and gestures and intonations based on how many items are in their order. If they are ordering just a small coffee, for example, they might say “small coffee” in a different tone of voice than they would if they were ordering a small coffee and a juice; and if they were ordering a bagel with cream cheese along with their juice and small coffee, they would say “small coffee” in still another tone of voice.

Similarly the prefatory remarks will be different in the case of long and short orders. Something very common for an order of three items or more, say, is when someone begins by saying “I would like” very slowly. (In rhythm this might almost be a dactyl or cretic; in pitch, I can’t quite determine –one might need an ear for quarter tones– but it would seem two of the same notes (I, would) followed by one of a lower pitch (like).)

— The PLU number for the second item he articulated, a small latte, was 721, and the price of the first and second item together was $7.21, so that, although it’s very uninteresting, the attendant received a mild surprise when he saw this sequence of three numbers twice in rapid succession, meaning totally different things.

(Note. When ringing up an item on the register, you don’t enter its price, but its code or PLU number, which helps with inventory and such things. 721 is the code for a small latte, the price of which is something like 3.38.)

The attendant had received a mild surprise, he has written, yet it must happen every couple months or so that the total of the register either equals the PLU number or interestingly comments on it in some way.

(Chance Sweepings)

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