in Sweet As Love

Mr. Nahzah

Mr. Nahzah comes in once a week for a pound, French Roast, Melitta grind. Occassionally he and his wife drop in for an espresso after dinner. He’s an electrician nearing retirement, she runs the stationary store on 3rd. They immigrated from Berlin together in 1950. He is always well-dressed, a charming man. He approaches me while I’m staring at the screen, "What is that?"
I look up, "Huh? Oh, I’m trying to improve my website."
"Our son bought us a computer. All our vacation plans we online planned. We’re going to Spain. Can I order coffee from this site?"
"Once it’s finished. In fact…" recognizing a victim when I see one, I swivel the monitor towards him, "would you like to try it?" You buy the French roast every week, right?"
"Ya."
"So how would you do that here?"
"Let me see." He squints his eyes and looks at everything on the screen, reading and re-reading to himself. One very long minute goes by.
"So, what’s your guess?"
"Ah, ah, I don’t know."
"You want the French Roast, right?"
"Ya."
"And that’s a type of coffee, right?"
"Ya, of course."
"So wouldn’t you click on ‘Beans’?"
"But I don’t want beans. I want it ground."
"Yes, yes, of course. But before they’re grounds they’re beans.”
“But I don’t want beans.”
“Yes, I know. But nothing else makes sense. So you’d click on ‘Beans,’ right?"
"Ahhhh, ahhhhh," still starting at the screen, his face turns red and his head starts to shake, finally blurting out, "Das kann ich doch nicht riechen!"
Ouch. We’re both silent for an uncomfortable moment. I realize I’ve reduced this poor old man to cursing at me in another language, "Ohmigod, I’m sorry. I totally stressed you out. I’m so sorry."
"No, no, I am sorry. I lost my temper. ‘Beans,’ you are right. It is my fault, I should have known it was ‘Beans.’"
I triy to recover by lightening the mood, "Ummmm, so, was that something in German you said before?"
"Oh, ya, that is a German saying. It means, ‘I cannot smell that.’ We say that when we don’t know what something is just by looking at it."
"Ah, got it. ‘Smell that,’ it’s a funny phrase though."
"But I think it works well. We can tell by the smell of something if it is good, like food. I wanted to know which was the good link, but couldn’t ‘smell’ it, you see."
"Kinda. So, I should make that link smell better."
"Yes, it should smell like what I’m looking for."
"So my little blue link here should give off a pungent, slightly burnt aroma, with chocolate overtones?"
"Yes! Yes!" he smiled widely and nodded yes.