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Category Archives: Bitter Grinds

Staring, Stalking and other Shite.

Hey, here’s a question: Do you ever find yourself inexplicably staring into the cold, dead eyes of a caffeine addict? No? Then you must not be a barista. I don’t know if it’s the demand for attention, or the fact that they should probably switch to decaf, but people stare.

My...precioussssss

Not even like ‘Oh, that crazy woman has mocha sauce on her neck and is begging the espresso machine to hurry up’ type staring. More like ‘If I kidnapped you and stole your clothes I could probably wring them out and get a hit by drinking that’ kinda staring.

That's what I'm talking about. Gah.

Please stop, it’s creepy. If I am making eye-contact with you, it is because I am LISTENING TO WHAT YOU ARE TELLING ME. It is not because I want your babies. When this is the case, you’ll never know.

Similarly, if you have been into the store every week for the last year, and if you have been an ARSEHOLE, I am going to remember your drink. Even if you haven’t been in for three weeks. Because THAT’S MY JOB. You don’t need to blink at me and go ‘Oh. Creepy’. Also, if it’s that easy for someone who neither knows nor likes you to figure out your schedule, maybe you should shake it up with a little spontaneity. Not that ‘go to work-get coffee-go to the gym- get coffee’ isn’t massively exciting. Every day. But…well, if you were in a movie where you got mixed up with the mob, you’d be really easy to find and kill. That’s all I’m saying. Luckily, you don’t do anything interesting enough to get involved with the mob. You know how I know this? Because you’re ALWAYS HERE, looking at me like I’m nuts because I can remember you’re that rude guy who always throws his money at me and demands a double espresso.

Also, whilst we’re on this subject, please do not ‘congratulate’ me on being able to remember your drink/name/the topic of conversation the last time we talked. If you’re pleased you can say ‘Oh it’s so nice that you remembered!’ That’ll do fine. Do NOT call me a ‘good girl’ (try and pat me on the head and I will go fucking apeshit. I am not a dog. I do not work for treats or respond to reinforcing good behaviour. Fuck you.) tell me ‘Oh look, you have a memory!’ (Yes, I am, as we have established, a HUMAN BEING. When you’ve got a robotic barista asking how your kid is doing at uni, maybe THEN is the time to freak out).

I am providing a service. I am providing a personalised beverage and/or food whilst letting you know that you are a special little snowflake, just as individual as every other fucking moron that comes in here and pretends I’m a stalker. I’m NOT. I’m just fairly OKAY at my job, which requires REMEMBERING things.

Please do not stalk your barista

But back to uncomfortable eye-contact. Sometimes it happens accidentally. You’re making a latte, milk gets in your eye, you squint, and Robby McRandom thinks you’re hitting on him. You ask how someone’s day is, and they ask you what time you get off work. You ask if they want whipped cream on their hot chocolate and they look at you like you just pulled a leather whip out of your apron pocket. What the fuck is wrong with everyone?

Eye-contact is a necessary part of human interaction. Otherwise, it doesn’t seem like we’re listening to you. So then you SHOUT IN MY FACE. Or, alternately, your eye-contact is so dead-and-creepy that I look away, and then you think I’m being coy. Read back this post. Do I seem at ALL like a person who is capable of acting coy? If so, then you’re still not using your eyes the way they need to be used. Which is to SEE when you are making minimum wage coffee monkeys uncomfortable.

This is the CORRECT way to write a love letter to a barista. Jus' sayin'

If you don’t want me to remember who you are, consider this list of people we DO remember:

-The arsehole customers who are always rude

-The arsehole customers who always make you remake their drink at least twice

-The arsehole customers who have ridiculously complicated drinks orders

-The nice customers who come in every day and have a slightly unique drink (read: ridiculously complicated but we don’t mind)

-The nice customers who have had a distinct conversation with you about something you’re interested in (travel/ interesting job/festivals/local news/coffee)

-The nice customers with hilarious/cute children

-The nice customers who have previously bought us a gift at Christmas (I know, right?!)

-Anyone with a specific signifier (the Raspy Voice Lady, the South African Music Teacher, The GingerBread Family, That Woman Who Keeps Trying to Get Free Stuff etc)

-Anyone who at first seemed cute, and then turned out to be an arsehole customer

-Anyone who at first looked like an arsehole customer, but then turned out to be a sweetheart.

-Anyone who comes in more than once a day.

The rest of you: Be more interesting.

Also, perhaps consider drinking something other than a latte, and changing your name to something with more than one syllable. Or possibly cultivate an accent, or a hobby that you’re comfortable talking about in public. Trying to convince your wife to sleep with you, and asking for pointers does NOT count as ‘Acceptable waiting-for-coffee conversation’ FYI.

No, my latte art is not a subconscious way of expressing my feelings. I just can't make good leaves.

You remember how people interact in the Real World? They remember people who have shown interest in them. You know, like conversation? If you ask me how I am, I’m not automatically going to assume you’re chatting me up. I’m going to assume that, like a decent human being, it makes more sense to have an asinine conversation about the weather for thirty seconds, than to stand there in silence. But, whatevs.

That's the creepy stare. Right there. Yup.

And if you’ve never been caught in an awkward situation with a Starer, then it’s entirely likely that YOU are the one causing these awkward situations. Stop. Staring. And drink decaf.

Extra Shot:

Here is a hilarious video about being a Starbucks Barista. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m a Starbucks Barista. It just means that all of us deal with the same shit, day in, day out. Big love to all the baristas out there, whether you’re Starsmucks, Bosta, Mero, Met a Pranger or any other coffee shop in the UK, the USA or indeed, the world. Because, for the most part, what we do is necessary (if not actually important) but it could be worse. I can think of a bunch of jobs that involve customer service, and a lot of them also involve chicken grease and burger flipping. I’ll take smelling like whipped cream any day.

Regardless, this video is awesome, and I think I should marry this man. We would have outraged, indignant babies. With caffeine addictions. Not that I’m being a stalker or anything.

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The Terrifying Tale of…The Shredders

Once, not at all long ago and not far away (in fact, really really near) there was a civilisation that functioned on the ingestion of caffeine. For the most part, these creatures got along well with each other, stopped to refuel and then went along their merry way.

But one by one, a new race started infiltrating these caffeine-consumers (known as ‘humans’) and the effects were astronomical. These dreaded demons were called…The Shredders.

No, not this type of Shredder

 

You ever peel the label off a juice bottle, until it was all sticky and scratchy and falling apart? Anyone make some sort of snide remark about being sexually frustrated? If that’s what you get for a juice bottle, then consider the creatures who shred up sugar packs (full or empty), snap stirrers into little tiny splinters, rip up napkins until they’re celebration streamers. These people are the equivalent of a collection of nuns who had never left the convent, never eaten chocolate and just discovered Michael Fassbender.

What IS it with Shredders? Do they enjoy knowing that someone is going to clear up their mess? Do they look at me on the till and think ‘ha ha, that bitch is going to get some serious splinters. Maybe even a papercut! Ooh! Fun!’

Are they one half of a terminally ill marriage in which neither of them has talked to each other in social situations for fifteen years, and the only thing to make it through the agonising torture of silence over coffee is to rip the shit out of everything within reach? I hope so.

 

..and if you get to do that whilst enjoying a mocha, why not?

Sometimes, it’s children. That kind of makes sense, children like to destroy stuff. It’s pretty much what they were put on this earth to do. Destroy walls, your sex life, your bank balance, your hopes and dreams. All that good stuff. But adults? Why are fully functioning members of society sitting there, breaking stirring sticks into the tiniest pieces possible?

 

Completely irrelevant. But cute.

I suppose, in the face of abusive customers, it’s not so bad. But at least with the abusive customers, you know which ones are going to make an almighty mess and leave chocolate trodden into the sofas and milk all over the floor. You can see it coming. These ones…they come in all shapes and sizes, all heights and ages and professions. You can never predict who they will be. No-one knows why they do the things they do. We only know two things: they hang out in coffee shops, and they need to get laid.

 

Prepare yourself, humans. The Shredders are coming.

 

Some humans are more scary than whatever intelligent life is out there. Intelligent being the operative word.

The Bank Holiday Bitchfest

Or, The Art of Overreaction

 

I know, I know, I’ve been away. I’ve been a bad angry coffee-monkey. And you know the reason, the terrible problem that has caused this lack of ranty-shouty blogging? Work’s been pretty nice. People have been pleasant, drinks have been simple, life has been good.

But luckily, that’s all coming to an end. Because the rich people who fucked off on holiday to exotic places to annoy baristas in expensive resorts in probably very poor countries…have returned. So now they want Vietnamese cold coffee, or Turkish coffee, or Greek coffee. The only thing to remedy this problem is to make my own coffee Irish.

So yeah, the entitled pain-in-the-backsides have returned, and I’m sure we can all shout ‘Hallelujah!’ because now my job sucks again, I can moan to you good people about it.

 

Let’s start with Mrs Overreaction:

Lady: Why are you charging me that amount? I’m not eating in, I’m taking away!

Barista: Oh, I’m very sorry Madam, you’re right. Here’s the correct change.

Lady: This is outrageous! What terrible service! This has happened before! It has! I want your card!

Barista: My card?

Lady: Write your name down for me! I want your name written down! This is ridiculous!

 

No, what’s ridiculous is the fact that you haven’t had a heart attack yet. Or how you manage to deal with actual trauma. Kind of terrified by her response to stubbing her toe, or missing the bus. AAAAAAAAHHHH THE WORLD IS FUCKED! AAAAAAH!

 

Mrs I Could Teach You a Few Things

Woman: I want a cappuccino. A wet cappuccino. That means that there’s more liquid and less foam. Okay? Can you do that?

Hey there Grandma, here’s how you suck eggs. And whilst you’re at it, here’s how you fuck off and let me do my job. You can ask for a wet cappuccino, you can ask for a cappuccino with less foam. But do not try and give me a coffee-based vocab lesson. That’s just dumb.

Little Miss I’m Not Listening

Barista: Are you ordering a frappuccino?

Girl: Nope.

Me: What drink can I get you?

Girl: A chocolate cream frappuccino, please.

 

Gah.

 

Mrs Clearly Do Not Need Caffeine

Me: Hi there, what can I get you?

Her: I’ll-have-a-grande-decaf-skinny-extra-hot-cappuccino-to-take-away-and-a-grande-skinny-wet-extra-hot-latte-please. And-two-babychinos-but-the-larger-size-not-the-small-ones-and-hot-chocolate-that’s-less-hot.

Me: Are they all take-away?

Her: Also-a-granola-bar-on-a-plate-and-a-marshmallow-twizzle-in-a-bag-and-how-much-is-that-altogether?

Me: You want what with a cappuccino?

 

I’ll reiterate here, perhaps we should put up a sign. I can’t type any of this into the till until I know if you’re eating or taking away. I also can’t put any of the weirdly specific stuff into the till until you stop talking at one hundred freaking miles an hour. I also have to mark up the cups, pass it onto the other barista, fetch your food and possibly heat it whilst doing mental arithmetic and being polite? Fuck off, I’m a coffee monkey, not a trained-by-scientists-to-do-amazing-things-monkey. Talk slow, and wait for confirmation of what’s been said, that’s generally how conversation works. You know, like when you’re talking about your life, you expect your friends to ‘hmm’ or ‘right’ at the correct intervals. If they haven’t, you know you’re talking too much. Get a clue.

Mrs Bar-red

This woman is a pain in the arse anyway. Just the way she talks to you, like you’re a moron. I think she may be a head teacher. Plus, she’s posh and rich and says ‘yah’ so I have to hate her. She came in, sighed loudly when I confirmed her order, said ‘yes, I just told you that’ rolled her eyes at her daughter, and sat down to make a massive mess.

She then returns, two hours later to inform me that she left her granola bar on the table and wants it back…seriously, wouldn’t you just be a bit embarrassed and go home? I know I would. Or maybe I’d go buy a new one. I wouldn’t stroll to the head of a massive queue to let some poor bedraggled barista know I forgot to take my granola bar from the table, and as such I want a new one. If you can’t remember your property thirty minutes after you left the store, you don’t deserve it back, I don’t care if it’s a granola bar, an umbrella, or a baby. Just, no.

(Actually, you can take the baby. We really don’t need those.)

 

Randomly Irritating:

Stupid Woman: You know, when you opened your mouth, I really didn’t think you’d speak English! People don’t speak English in coffee shops, you know?

 

Erm, have you been hanging out in coffee shops in other countries? Because that might explain that. Also, I have to let you know, I think you might be a racist. And I’m assuming you want your coffee white, right?

 

Stupid Man: You know, they have silver spoons in Cafe Nero. Not these little plastic things.

Well, fuck off to Nero then!

 

Most Indecisive Woman in World: What do I want? What do I want? Hmm, what? What could I have today? I could have a panini, or a coffee, or a donut, or a hot chocolate. Hmm. Hmm, we could share a hot chocolate…hmm, do we want to do that?

 

I don’t know, but I’m very clear about what I want. I want you to choose something before I bash my brains out with a caffetiere. That is what I want. But I can’t have what I want. So I’ll settle for second best- have the internal monologue INTERNALLY. That’s just good manners, even Hamlet did that. And he was plotting to kill his uncle. You’re plotting to have a sandwich. And you’re not even that committed to the plot.

…And now I’ve lost the plot.

Irritating Lady didn’t say anything interesting, but waited for me to put money in the till before she changed it, then gave me weird change that made no sense and therefore made me look like I couldn’t do basic arithmetic. The thing that sucks is I can’t, really. I’m a literature graduate. You wanna quiz me on medieval poetry, go ahead, but I have a feeling that isn’t something you value in your coffee monkeys. Which is fair enough, really.

 

And the man that irritated me the most? Even though he was basically very nice?

 

Man: I want a double espresso. Extra hot.

Me: Uh…gah..uh? I can’t…espresso comes out of the machine…I can’t. Extra hot? Ah…not possible. (also relates to people who ask for their tea extra hot. How can I get hotter than boiling water?)

Man: (very gently, like talking to a spooked gazelle, or mentally challenged rabbit) Well, you can warm the cup, can’t you? Yes you can…all you do is fill it with some hot water, okay? Okay.

Me: GAH. INDIGNANT. I MAKE THE COFFEE! MY RULES….*scuttles away to fill cup with hot water*

Man: There’s a good girl.

 

Oh hey there, Mad Men, I know you made the fifties look cool, but you could you please remind men I don’t know (and those I do) that PATTING SOMEONE ON THE HEAD is not appropriate. I may be a bitch but I am not a dog. Yeah. Thanks. ‘Good girl’. Grumble, mumble. Fucking-anti-feminist-macho-thinks-he’s-so-tough-with-hot-teeny-cup-of-coffee-he’ll-now-make-last-two-hours. This is a political point. Don’t trust men with espresso. They’ll just try and customise it, like they do with their cars and bikes. Hmmpf.

At least my latte matches my handbag. Yeah. That’s feminism for you. (By matches, I mean I spilled latte on my handbag and now they’re the same colour. Do I sound like I puropsefully colour code my coffee to you?)

 

Okay, hope that was enough vitriol to last another week, and make up for my radio silence.

 

Have a nice day from Cafe Disaster, we’re not secretly hoping for your demise! Not at all!

 

Shake what your Mama Gave Ya – A Lesson in Using Your Senses.

Week One: Hearing.

I took a fellow barista’s advice, and decided to let you all know how to use your senses in a coffee shop. This week: hearing.

So, sometimes people can’t hear. That’s called being deaf. And it’s sad, because there’s no music, but can be awesome, because sign language is cool. Then there’s a whole other thing called NOT LISTENING. The first, you cannot be blamed for, the second you totally can.

Here are some examples of Not Listening, for all you people who can’t comprehend such ridiculousness.

 

Me: Hi there, what can I get you?

Idiot: Skinny Latte

Me: What size?

Idiot: Skinny

Me: Yes, but what size?

Idiot: To take away

Me: WHAT SIZE?

Idiot: No cream. Skinny. You’ve got skinny?

Me: WHAT SIZE?!

Idiot: You got take away, right?

Me: *punching self in the face whilst cheerily chirping* Okay, a medium skinny latte to go. Coming up!

Idiot: I didn’t say it was medium.

Me: What size would you like?

Idiot: You do realise I said skinny?

 

There. Are. No. Words. How do you people get anything done? How do you not fall over more? How do people not punch you for making them feel like invisible mutes who only exist to do your bidding? How? How? And of course, you’re not listening to this.

One of my favourites today, for it’s sheer simplicity, was:

 

Me: Is anyone waiting for a medium skinny latte?

Moron: What’s that drink? *points at drink in my hand*

Me: That’s a medium skinny latte.

Moron: Is that a medium skinny latte?

Me: Yes, this is a medium skinny latte.

Moron: It’s skinny? And medium?

Me: Yes, it’s also a latte.

Moron: Oh, I think that’s mine.

 

YOU THINK? You THINK it’s yours? Could you have been any more certain? You’re not testing for paternity, here, you’re discerning whether the polysyllabic drink you ordered is in fact yours. If you LISTENED, you would know. Dumbass.

 

Moron then says: Oh, you know I’m also waiting for a decaf skinny cappuccino.

Me: Yes, I do, I’m making it now Madam.

Moron: Okay *takes away her drink, then returns a few minutes later*

Moron: Is there a decaf skinny cappuccino in the queue? I’ve been waiting quite a while!

Me: *smushes face into coffee machine* Ye-ee-es Madam, it’s right here, I’m doing it now.

 

The reason you’ve been waiting quite a while is because I had to explain to you that what you ordered was, in fact, what you ordered.

You want another? Really? You can handle this much stupidity?

 

Lady (she’s less stupid): I want one of those cold blendy things, with soya, and caramel.

Me: Cream base, or coffee base?

Lady: Cream, like a milkshake.

Me: Yep, no coffee in there.

Lady: No coffee. Okay. One soya, one without.

Me: Would you like whipped cream on the non-soya one?

Lady: Don’t put cream on soya! The whole point of the soya is that I’m lactose intolerant! That’s ridiculous!

Me: *sigh* No, madam, on the NON-Soya one.

Lady: No. No cream. No coffee. Just milkshake.

 

I make said drinks. Hand them over.

Lady: Why is there no coffee in this?

Me: *smush face into anything that hurts enough to make my brain realise it has to respond* GAH!

 

To be fair, she apologised. And we have a lot of options. But you know what, we’re human beings. If you don’t understand what you want, we happen to know about coffee. Because we’re there. Every freaking day. We have created every possible concoction of coffee and milk. We have made things for people that we would never in a million years have created or even been able to stomach trying for ourselves. But how do we do this? Because we LISTEN.

 

So, try it, once in a while. The understanding that sometimes other human beings, even those providing a service, have something worthwhile to say, or some wisdom to impart may actually make your life easier.

 

Mother (Tonka) Truckers

This title is not inferring that I’m ranting about mothers who drive trucks. I hope you get that. Good luck to those women, whoever they are. This is about mothers who think their darling angel children can do no wrong. So basically, any mother with a child under five years old.

See, kids make no sense

Now, I understand these poor harrowed women probably come to a coffee shop to get out the house, to escape the monotony of ‘brekkie doodle’, ‘twinkle twinkle la la’ time, followed by ‘tinkles’ and ‘beddie byes’ but seriously. Just because you love your child, doesn’t mean I have to.

 

And just because you’ve decided to procreate and bring another child into this overpopulated universe, doesn’t mean I have to clean up after them.

 

So there’s this lady, and she’s pretty and softly spoken, and has two little kids that she dresses in pink so people will know they’re girls. And they’re cute. She sits there for about an hour, not doing much except looking around at this strange ‘outside’ world that other people are inhabiting. And I kind of feel for her. Except she never cleans up after her kids.

 

They take coffee beans from the side, smush cake into the sofas, pour drinks on each other, pull out all the straws/sugar packets/napkins and shred everything like eager little guinea pigs. And then they leave.

 

You know what cleaning up the mess of someone else’s inability to correctly use contraception feels like when it happens every day? It feels like you’re now not only a barista/therapist/waitress/emotional punching bag but you’re also a nanny.

 

There are others, like the women who spend fifteen minutes standing at the till saying to a child who CANNOT TALK YET, ‘Sweetie, tell Mummy what you want. Tell Mummy! Do you want this one? No, what about this? Do you like this? What do you want darling, tell Mummy!’

Well, hey there, four-month-year-old, would you like me to tell Mummy what you want? What’s that? You want Mummy to stop expecting you to be a child-genius and order what she wants so the other paying customers can get served sometime today? Oh, how surprising, me too!

 

There’s then the mothers who make a big deal of getting their child to ‘tell the nice lady what you want’ and then spend the next five minutes telling them why they can’t have it. There’s the mothers who are so used to shouting ‘THEEEO NOOO! PUT THAT DOWN! DOWN, I SAID! DOOOOOOWN!’ that they have no qualms about doing this whilst ordering, and thus automatically screaming in my face. I usually give these women decaf. Just to protect the eardrums of their younglings.

 

There are mothers who are so excited to see other mothers that they spend ten minutes arguing who should pay for whose lunch, both waving cards at me whilst cooing over each other’s children. The baby-talk automatically overlaps into ordering. And ‘I’ll have a Latte-wattee, yes I will!’ is just terrifying.
And occasionally, there are the mothers who come in with cute, quiet babies, order a coffee, sit and enjoy it, and when they leave, the only proof they were there is an empty coffee cup with a bunch of baby wipes they’ve used to clear the table with. These mothers are angels. Please, come again. And tell your friends…how to behave in an environment that is not focused solely around your sweet little bundle of DNA.

Mrs ‘Your Irresponsibility Astounds Me!’

Or

‘Why Routine is an Evil Obsession’

 

Now, I get that some people love their routines. That whether or not they have their cereal before putting on their work clothes is very important to them. And that’s fine. I would never stand in the way of another human being’s happiness.

Except when it effectively destroys my own (for further philosophical debates on this, see J.S. Mill’s On Liberty).

 

So, terror of terrors, we’ve run out of cup holders. You know, those serrated cardboard fuckers that are fine if the customer has them on a drink, but tend to splinter you senseless if you have to restock them every few hours. Those bastards.

We ran out. It happens. Yes, maybe it shouldn’t have, but what can you do? What with the weather constantly changing, more people having hot drinks than we’d anticipated, they went. Gone. Finito. End of. Right?

 

No.

The most asked questions of the hour?

‘Where are those, ya know, thingies?’

‘What happened to the foldy things?‘

‘Those (insert weird hand motion) where are they?’

 

And my favourite:

‘Can I have a cardboard cut-out please?’ 

Erm, of yourself or someone else, sir?

So after explaining a hundred times, I very nearly making a sign that says:

They are called CUP HOLDERS and we don’t have them.

And then this woman comes in. I explain as I have been all day that we don’t have any cup holders, but we’re ‘double-cupping’ (which I think sounds dirty, and makes me giggle when I have to say it). By which, I mean, we’re putting the cup full of hot drink inside another cup so it’s not too hot to hold.

‘You DON’T have any holders?’

‘I’m afraid not, madam, I can give you another cup?’

Why would I want another cup?’

‘To put it inside, so it’s easier to hold?’

She rolls her eyes.

‘But I just asked for it extra-hot!’

Yes, I know that, you’ve asked me to remake it twice until I burned the milk whilst an internal monologue of ‘scald the bitch’ goes round in my head on repeat. I’m thinking that’ll be my next song. You want burnt milk, tell me. I’m not going to burn milk. It smells bad.

‘Yes, I know, I’ve made it extra hot.’

‘But I won’t know that when I feel the cup.’

No, but you’ll know when you burn your rapidly-moving mouth on the beverage, you know, when you DRINK it, which was the whole reason you bought it. Unless you’re planning on throwing it on someone more annoying than you are. Which is hard to imagine.

‘I don’t have to double-cup madam, I was just thinking of your comfort.’

‘What would COMFORT me, is for you to be able to provide BASIC things. I ALWAYS have a cardboard thing, I ALWAYS do. And you’ve RUINED it for me. HOW am I supposed to enjoy my drink now?’

You mean you actually feel the human emotion known as enjoyment? Shocking.

I think we can safely categorise this human as obsessive compulsive. At least, I hope so for her sake, otherwise, she has a very small life, with a lot of time on her hands. I wonder if she makes pyramids of cupholders at her home. I visualise photographs of her and the cardboard pieces, smiling for the camera.

 

She wanders out whispering ‘Ow, ow, ouch’ as the coffee cup burns her fingers.

And for once, I don’t feel vindicated, or like I’ve won. I just feel bloody confused, and a little bit depressed about the future of the human race.

 

 

 

Father Apocalypse (Or, ‘That Nice, Slightly Strange Old Man’)

‘Father Apocalypse’ Or ‘That nice, slightly strange old man’

 

I thought he was a Vicar. Or a priest of some sort, I’m not entirely up to date with my ecclesiastical references. It didn’t help that he always wears a white old fashioned shirt with ruffles, and a black blazer. The dog collar would look perfect.

He looks like he belongs in a tiny village, eating tea and crumpets. He does drink tea, and usually a cinnamon bun or fruit toast.

He pays for it in small change, and I don’t begrudge him because he looks like a granddad. Slightly doddery, but perfect English elocution that speaks of boarding school. I always think he looks like he has some stories.

And then he ordered porridge.

Porridge is a bitch to make. Especially when people try and tell you they like it ‘a bit thicker’ or ‘more milky’. This is not an exact science. (For more ranting on how this is not an exact science with ratios, refer to any rant on a semi-dry cappuccino.)

So I had to make it THREE times. On top of this, he’d ordered two porridges, when he really meant one porridge with two lots of dried fruit. And I knew this. So I made sure he confirmed that he wanted TWO porridges. I confirmed it three times.

So then of course, I make the two porridges and he only wants one. One that is not as thick as that, more milk, more milk, NO! Stop! Too milky!…Well, how do you combat that? You have to make it all over again. So I’ve wasted two pots of porridge already.

I make him a new one, hopefully interprets my silence and grim face as the message ‘Do not ask me to change this again. You get what you’re given’.

He goes away to eat his porridge. And then comes back to ask for another one.

‘Well, I am rather hungry this morning!’

And you couldn’t have decided this when you already had TWO pots of porridge waiting for you?

 

This is the rule about porridge. It is awesome. Porridge is the breakfast that provides the most possibility, you could put endless things on it or in it to make it taste good. But that variety, that specificity, is never going to happen in a chain coffee store. You’re better off making it at home and enjoying the process.

 

If you ever order porridge in a coffee shop, and hear the barista sigh, you will know why. It’s annoying to make, everyone likes it differently, at different consistencies and temperatures, and most of the time you end up making it three times over.

But as I have come to learn (without being agist in any way) older people are quite used to their routine, stuck in their ways. And I’m not going to get in the way of that.

But in that case, I hear you ask, why haven’t I called him Father Porridge in the name of this post? Well, because he stops being a kindly but specific old man, and starts to be a little scary….

 

You’ll just have to wait till next week.

 

Holy Coffee Batman!