With approximately 0.68 pounds of coffee in a scoop in one hand and a cordless phone in the other, I heard the familiar question:

"What flavor of expresso (sic) are you serving today?"

It was HER.

"Ummm....let me look." I put down the scoop of pungent, oily beans and walked to where I could see the little sign announcing the day's espresso blend.

"Major Dickason's today." I informed the caller.

"Good! My favorite!" The caller was pleased. "How about lemon-butter cookies? Do you have any of those in?"

I looked in the pastry case. There were three unopened boxes of the coveted lemon-butter cookies, a delectable confection that I often used to nibble on breaks.

"Yes, three boxes." I said.

"Could you put them aside for me please?" the caller inquired.

Hmmm. If I put the cookies aside for this caller, then there would be none for the other customers. And none for me! But then again, it was never wise to upset the Quad Lady, otherwise known as Quadzilla. "Okay. Individually bagged?" I sighed, already knowing the answer.

"Yes please. I'll be in later to pick them up."

With that, Quadzilla hung up the phone and I returned to weighing beans. "Later", to Quadzilla, meant "right at closing time" when the main thing on a coffee shop worker's mind is getting customers OUT of the store so that we could clean up and count the register drawers.

I don't know to this day why this woman acted the way she did. Well, maybe it had to do with her habit of drinking FOUR quad espressos in a single sitting. Peet's coffee (the shop I worked at) has very strict standards for drink-making. Each espresso shot must be precisely measured, and the grind must be carefully adjusted to account for changes in humidity throughout the day. When a shot is pulled, it must be exactly one ounce. (Though we did pull especially long shots for some odd customers who apparently enjoyed the bitter taste of horribly over-extracted espresso.)

Quadzilla invariably ordered 4 quad espressos. She watched you like an anal retentive hawk as you pulled her shots, looking for any sign that she was somehow going to be cheated out of her precious elixir.

When she came in that night, it was about 10:02 and we'd already locked the doors. She proceeded to bang on them and being the idealistic, fairly new worker that I was, I let her in, much to the dismay of my co-workers.

"Susan," (Quadzilla's real name) "You know we're actually closed, don't you?"

"Not according to my watch you're not!" she informed me.

Oh. I thought. How far is she going to take this?

"And I want you to make my expresso, dear," she said to me.

"But Susan, I've never made espresso for you!" I reminded her. I had only recently been granted espresso bar priveleges.

"Yes you have. You make it good. Only you and Jennifer can make my drinks. Everyone else waters it down."

Nobody had ever watered down Susan's espresso, but there was no arguing with her. I had certainly never made her a drink before, but there was no arguing with her.

Nervously, I went over to the bar area and began pulling shots. Quadzilla / Susan stared intently at every move I made.

"The earthquakes are going to be here soon." Quadzilla informed me.


"Earthquakes. Fire and lightning. The end of everything. I heard it on the AM radio last night."

"Oh! You mean Coast To Coast AM?" I asked, suddenly realizing what she was talking about. Coast to Coast AM is a show hosted by Art Bell, who interviews all sorts of wacky people with weird theories. The show played from midnight to 5 AM (I think) in the area I lived (San Jose) and I guess it was only natural that someone keen on consuming 16 shots of espresso in the evenings would have happened upon this show. I personally was something of an insomniac, and listened to the show for entertainment. The only side effect of this for me was occasional dreams of alien abductions.

Susan's face brightened. "You listen to that, too?"

This is where my weird, unexpected camraderie with the Quad Lady began. For some reason, the fact that I listened to the same wacky radio talk show that she did made her trust me. Unlike my co-workers, I didn't flinch when she came in from then on. We enthusiastically discussed crop circles, strange magnetic fields, higher dimensions, and end-times predictions while I arduously pulled her 16 shots of espresso, which she consumed at the same time as all the lemon-butter cookies we happened to have in the store.

Now, I'm an atheist and a skeptic and didn't believe the stuff on Coast To Coast AM for the most part, but discussing it with Susan was a lot of fun for some reason. She was just so enthused about paranormal phenomena, and so grouchy and unreasonable when she wasn't talking about such things.

My co-workers used to call me to the espresso bar whenever Susan came in. I became something of a buffer, I suppose. Interestingly, she eventually stopped coming in so close to closing, and was generally a lot friendlier. Maybe she was pleased that someone was actually being nice to her, or perhaps she just built up a tolerance to all that caffeine and became a lot less paranoid?

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