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Davis

Davis, California

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Column: Starbucks man

So it was my mom’s 30th birthday this weekend (she owes me for that one) and my family decided to spend the weekend at our cabin in Arnold to celebrate. You probably don’t know where the hell that is, and that’s fine. To sum it up three ways, it’s 1) beautiful, 2) densely forested, and 3) cell phone-resistant. That last one drives me crazy every time.

I met my family up there Friday afternoon. I dragged a Davis friend, Erica, along with me to ease the pain of the drive. Quite literally, actually. As random as this will sound, there has been a person shooting people on the highway that I take to my cabin. For some reason, I find that terrifying.

(Before you start thinking I’m some paranoid schizophrenic, go Google “Valley Springs shooter.” Told you so.)

Anyway, either Erica is the best friend ever for accompanying me or I’m the worst friend ever for taking her along. I guess I’ll go with the latter because I actually didn’t tell her about any of this until she had committed and we were 30 minutes into the drive.

In general, I don’t mind the drive up there. It’s mildly entertaining to pass through towns with two-digit populations and see the people and businesses that reside in them. My personal favorite is the town of Burson, whose only two businesses are a karate gym and a donut shop. Perfect.

This time, though, all the humorous things I saw were overshadowed by paranoia. My life flashed before my eyes every time I passed a shirtless, tattooed man on a dirt bike. And there are tons of those up there, so that’s a lot of flashes.

I finally filled Erica in on the news by the time we hit Valley Springs. I figured there was nothing she could do at that point. It wasn’t like she was going to jump out of the car and become a walking target.

Now there were two fearful souls in the vehicle. We were both ducking and emitting high-pitched screams every time we saw a car pulled to the side of the road.

Once we had gotten through the dreaded Valley Springs, we figured we were in the clear. Our necks were whiplashed from repeatedly slamming our heads into our laps. So when we saw a Starbucks, we decided to drive-thru and get something to calm us down.

We were greeted by a man’s voice on the Starbucks speaker saying, “Howdy ho ladies, what can I get for you?!”

We wanted whatever the hell he was on, naturally. I think ordinarily I’d be severely weirded out by that greeting. But after the ordeal we just went through, it was kind of comforting.

I ended up ordering a skinny, white mocha and he made some lame joke about me calling him skinny and white. We then pulled up to the window to come face-to-face with a 40-year-old man who probably had a Ned Flanders default picture on Facebook for Doppelganger Week. Not surprised.

The only reason I even included these last three paragraphs is because I’m partly convinced that man was the Valley Springs shooter. Not only would that be awesome, but I like to think we’re friends now. So if he recognized my car he’d try his best to resist the urge to shoot me. If that’s the case, then I guess the drive up wasn’t a complete bust after all.

Half an hour later, we finally made it all the way up the hill just in time to celebrate with my older sister of a mother (… that one didn’t work out as well, but she still owes me). And since there was another column this week, we obviously made it back home alive too. And yes, I attribute this feat to my happy interaction with the Starbucks man.

Bottom line is thank God I ordered the tall skinny, white mocha. I don’t even want to know what would have happened if he thought I called him grande.

AMANDA HARDWICK hopes the Starbucks man shoots (nyuck nyuck nyuck) her some mail if he reads this. She can be reached at aghardwick@ucdavis.edu.

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