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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.

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The Runner’s Tale

Why Fetching the Coffee For Media Big Wigs Does NOT Make You Better than the Person Who Made the Coffee.

 

Yes, yes, I know. It’s so HARD to break into the media. It’s such a tough job where no one thanks you and you have to fetch coffee a hundred times a day.

Oh. Wait. That sounds familiar. The lack of thanks? The people who think you’re a worthless waste of space who has no talent beyond being a fetcher/cleaner/coffee machine combo? And even then, you’re not that talented. The continual degradation? Spending your hours wishing you were doing something creative and exciting? Going home exhausted, sure that you’re never going to get any closer to your dreams?

Hey, Runner. You and me are the same, kid. So WHY THE FUCK are you treating me like shit?

Plus, FYI, I can actually MAKE that double-shot-extra-hot-dry-cappuccino-with-sweetener that you are SO intent on telling me how to get right. You can just about say it. Your very important job is to carry it back correctly, and write everyone’s names on the top. Because that’s what people want in a Runner. Someone who can’t remember the order of three people (the same order you have EVERY day) without referring to a list, and can’t identify which drink is which without putting permanent marker on the lid, which they will then get on their faces. And treats everyone involved like shit in the process.
Yeah, awesome. You’ll be running the Beeb in no time.

 

Look, I know it’s hard. I know you’re on the wrong side of twenty five, and your dreams of being a tiptop marketing exec, important-running-around-with-an-iPhone type person seem to be slipping away from you. But stop being such a fucking tool. You chose to be a media whore. That is not my problem. What IS my problem, is making the drinks you have ordered to the specifications you require. Which is what I do. Just because you’re working on the latest shitty incarnation of a stupid never-ending reality TV series that should have died a death a while ago, but doesn’t because the majority of people don’t know what a book is, DOES NOT make you better than me.

So there. Cheer the fuck up, and say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. I’ve served your employer, and he certainly does. Even if he does wear sunglasses indoors because he thinks he’s too famous. But what do I know, maybe he’s got that sensitivity thing, like Bono. But don’t start me on Bono.

 

There was another one, horrible fucker, who I won’t give a nickname to, because giving away the name of another shitty reality TV show would give away our location. But this particular arse came in, demanded a discount because he’s so special, and then proceeded to repeat the same nonsensical order until I made an educated guess at the drinks and just said ‘okay’. He then wanted me to write the name of each person on their cup. An order of seven drinks. If there’s anything more insulting than being told that Ian is spelled ‘I-A-N’ when you have a fucking Masters degree, I do not know what it is. Possibly being told how to spell ‘cat’. Or twat. But I feel quite comfortable with that word. Because it’s applicable here.

 

I then apologised for the delay (which was HIS fault, because he was unable to use a pen on each cup and write the dreadfully complex names of his colleagues on himself) and he SCOFFED at me. Not even a ‘don’t worry about it’ or a grunt of derision. He SCOFFED. Someone who was about my age, and addressed me as ‘blad’ thinks he’s better than me because he’s fetching coffee for the design monkeys of what may be the worst television show ever created, that as it will still be going in fifteen years time, will definitely be responsible for the decline in humanity, IQ levels and my own will to live.

I’d like to think of something witty to say at this point, but the only thing I can think of is:

‘FUCK YOU’. So I’ll stick with that. Itz well to tha point, innit blad? Dickhead.

 

Mrs ‘Half-a-Fucking-Panini’

Some people are dicks. We know this. And some people are physically repulsive. We are not allowed to comment on this. Because sometimes, physically repulsive people are nice, and therefore do not repulse us. Or sometimes they BECOME repulsive simply because they’re douche bags.

Just thought I’d enlighten you there. Because this woman was a cowbag. She rocks up with her posse of screaming children, obsessive mother and what I can only assume is a suicidal nanny and does the typical ‘WHAT DO YOU WANT, MUM?’ scream from the pastry case to the sofas. Then one kid comes up, then another, then she changes her order. Then she gets aggy with a barista for serving someone else first because she hadn’t decided anything yet.

She picks a porridge, a panini and a cookie for herself. The others have nothing.

She demolishes the porridge (after sending back her drink twice. Once because it wasn’t hot enough, and once because it tasted ‘bleh’. Because that’s an adjective) then the cookie and is halfway through the panini when she notices the supervisor restocking the sandwiches. So she marches over and demands that she get a new one, because she wanted one of those, but we didn’t have any.

Meh is descriptive. Bleh isn't. Apparently.

She then tells what can only be called a baldfaced lie, and says she asked the barista at the till and he said we didn’t have any. I was there, and she didn’t ask him, because if she did, it would have been my job to run to the back to check. And I didn’t.

Her defence for the fact that we should give her an entire sandwich for free when she’d already eaten most of the other one? ‘You MADE me eat a sandwich I didn’t like!’ Oh, we MADE you? We opened your wide trap and stuck it down there? After the porridge you abhorred and cookie you despised? Well, of course, you poor dear. You’re a regular suffragette, aren’t you?

This is forcefeeding. Or death by cat food.

Now, I don’t make comments on people’s sizes, mainly because I think it’s cheap, and also because I would hate for anyone to say something similar about me. I will say this: She didn’t need another fucking sandwich. She probably also could have done without the second helping of whipped cream she demanded was free because we’d screwed her over so badly. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Honest.

At least Miss Piggy's NICE.

If there’s nothing there you want to eat, don’t eat it. If you don’t like our coffee, don’t drink it. There are multiple other coffee shops, and losing your custom means nothing to us. Actually that’s a lie, it means a lot to us. It means lower blood pressure, a dwindling sense of anxiety, both my eardrums being intact, and having much less of a desire to punch a wall. Especially considering this is all happening twenty minutes from closing time.

So fuck off and have a nice day elsewhere, where they won’t force you to buy and eat things you don’t like as much as other things.

Mr ‘I Fucking Love the Brand, Man’

He starts off with these immortal words:

‘Do you have a Burnt-Cinnamon-Dark-Spiced-Caramel-Nutted latte?’

Erm, does anyone have one of those? Should anyone have one of those? It has the word ‘burnt’ in it. Is this the drink for people who can’t make a decision but want a drink equivalent of a cake?

‘I’m…afraid we don’t, sir.’

His eyes boggle out of his face, and he shakes his head sadly, emitting a little sigh.

‘They have them in America. I was in the LA branch. They’ve got some amazing things in America.’

(These are some of them)

I’m pretty sure they have other amazing things in LA, like superstars and Hollywood and stuff. Maybe you’d have noticed them if you weren’t making googoo eyes at a caffeinated beverage.

He settles for a latte with an extra shot, soya milk (ah, yes. You have been in America, I see. Did you come back with a no-carb diet and the desire to dress a little dog in pink clothes?) which is absolutely nothing like the monstrosity he wanted to order.

He then sits down opposite the bar, and shouts across to us about all the amazing things in the American version of our store. There’s a difference in the store cards, and the beverages, and the ordering system. You know what else is different? The American baristas might actually care about this. And I’m betting you sat there and told them all about how our system works. What do you do? Why are you here? All the time? Who loves a brand that much? Corporate schmuck.

So then his parents come in. They seem very polite and order a tea and a black coffee. Both small. He then comes barging over with his ridiculously loud voice and says:

‘Noo! Mum, Dad, you just don’t understand how it works here! You’re doing it all wrong. This isn’t the way things are done.’

He then turns to me and says ‘I’m so sorry about them. They meant they want tall drinks. For here. But in takeaway cups.’

Firstly, I’m outraged on behalf of the parents for the way the little git is talking to them, and then I’m outraged at the parents for creating such an abhorrent being. Is he a brands whore? Is that what it is? Will he complain at his friends for wearing their Nike socks ‘the wrong way’, or that Adidas jackets can’t be zipped up? Plus, I bet he shops in Hollister. That is cause enough to judge him. It’s all about the brand, man. I want the things I wear to say where I got them- I want the name PLASTERED all over!

Ugh. He then sits and explains the whole ordering process and ‘ethos of the company’ to his parents, occasionally looking over to the barista to make sure they’re hearing just how knowledgable he is about such things. Maybe he just really wanted a job with us. I think after that, his parents probably just wanted to go somewhere with weak tea and rubbish coffee, purely so that he couldn’t talk about it anymore.

At least they get acknowledgement that they're smart

And as baristas, we kind of agreed. Sure, our job is okay. It may not seem it here, where all the coffee-drinking detritus of humanity reside in my stories, but our job isn’t bad. It’s a sight higher than a McJob and we don’t have to wear baseball caps. (Although I recently realised our ‘Would you like whipped cream?’ is the equivalent of ‘Would you like fries with that?’ Urgh) But no-one, and I mean NO-ONE is that obsessed with the brand they work for. Unless you work for Apple, maybe. And no amount of free coffee is going to make us choose to sit and chat with someone who is a FAN. It’s just…repulsive. Urgh. Go join a club, or volunteer for a charity or something. Just stop talking about this as if it’s interesting. Jeez.

Coffee Crushes- A Valentines Special


I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: There are only three reasons we will remember your drink.

 

1- You’re in so often, and such a victim of routine that we’d have to be brain dead not to.

2- You’re a vile human being who has made our lives such hell that we recognise what drink to serve you in our sleep, when you arrive in our dreams wearing horns and a tail.

3- You’re wonderful.

 

Just as a horrible interaction with a mean customer can seriously fuck with your day (after being shouted at I will usually get the next six orders wrong in some way) a lovely exchange with a nice customer can keep your sanity intact for a good few hours. Especially if they’re cute

We all have them, our favourite customers. Mostly, they’re based on people we like having a chat with, who make us laugh, say please and thank you, give us a little tidbit about their day that we can talk about. Because otherwise, we have to talk about the weather. And I hate talking about the weather, it’s farcical. And overdone. And boring.

So having a little chat about your plans for the day is nice. Also, when Christmas comes around, and the painfully nice customers have sent us a card, or bought us a box of choccies, we know that we’re appreciated. So you guys become favourites too. We’ve very buyable.

And then there’s the crushes. The ones who we look forward to coming in, because they perk up our day (and always seem so surprised that we remember their drink) and yet we also dread it, because we are SO UNCOOL. It’s also painfully obvious when you’re way nicer to your favourite customer than the one before. Awkward.

I’ll get this straight- we don’t want to date you. I mean, we might, if the situation arose, but then it could go bad, and where would you go for coffee? It would send you hurtling into the ever-waiting arms of the baristas at Bosta, and that’s just not right. No, we’d much rather see your cute face, garble something that’s meant to be conversation but actually just turns out to be words that don’t string together, until you smile through the awkward silence. And then, thank goodness, your coffee is ready, and off you go.

But maybe you made a little joke, or you were wearing a particularly humorous t-shirt that day. And that is enough, in our little coffee monkey lives, to make it through the wilderness that is caffeine provision, and the inevitable abuse that comes with it.

So thank you, coffee crushes, be you young, old, male, female, witty, sullen or so, so stupid. Thanks for stopping by. And have a very nice day!

 

NOTE: Not quite enough anger for you? Stay tuned for an extra angry update this week!

Why Facial Expressions are Not The Same as Adjectives, and Other Problems

Why Facial Expressions are Not The Same as Adjectives, and Other Problems

There’s been an endless rush of people doing this recently. They buy a new drink, go away, taste it, and the come back (usually by hovering around the till instead of queuing behind the ONE person who’s already ordering, like a polite human being) until I look up.

Then they say:

‘There’s something wrong with this drink.’

‘Oh, I’m terribly sorry, what’s wrong with it?’

Oh, it’s just a bit... INSERT RANDOM FACIAL EXPRESSION HERE’

Um. Okay. The first time this happened I just opened and closed my mouth a few times before spluttering:

Uhhh…um, okay, so what you’re saying is...’

They replied:

‘It’s just a bit…you know…INSERT DIFFERENT RANDOM FACIAL EXPRESSION’

‘Right…so it’s…bad?’

She then adopts a superior attitude and starts baby talking.

‘Ye-es…it’s ba-ad.’

 

Is the size wrong, Natalie?

Oh, well good to know you’re so comfortable with the mono-syllabic words that you can drag them out, but how about giving me a fucking vowel, here?

 

‘What’s exactly wrong with the drink, madam? Is it the temperature? The taste? The texture?’

See all these words I’m using? They’re ways of describing things. So if I was to say ‘this woman is really stupid’, stupid would be the adjective. See how this works?

 

 

‘It’s the taste!’

Aha, we have hit on SOMETHING. Even if it’s one of the least definitive things ever

‘It tastes a bit…RANDOM FACIAL EXPRESSION’

 

Too spicy?

Oh sweet lord, have mercy.

‘Would you like me to remake the drink, madam, or would you like a different beverage?’

I want something else, something that tastes more...GUMS MOUTH SEVERAL TIMES.’

 

Something that tastes more like a dog salivating over a sausage? Oh, okay, I’ll see what I can do. Would you maybe like something that tastes like half an eye-roll, three quarters of a smirk and a ding-dong noise? I could work on that for you.

 

Would you prefer decaf, Mr President?

For the love of baristas everywhere…USE YOUR WORDS. If it doesn’t taste right, then fine, get them to remake it. Or maybe you should have taken Food Tech at school where they made you sit around for hours exploring the use of words like bitter, sweet, savoury, spicy, strong, weak, tangy etc.

On the other end of the scale I had a woman who made that face, and then explained the drink was ‘vile. It’s just vile.’

What’s vile about a regular latte, madam? Is it bitter? Too strong? Did you want a sweetener in there?’

‘It’s just VILE, and I NEED you to do something about it.’

 

Possibly that something is only serving customers who are able to cultivate enough of a vocabulary to properly assess a situation and explain what the problem is without reverting to melodrama. I should just give up and go work with monkeys. I’m sure monkeys could tell me why the coffee was wrong. Without using any words. And I’d probably understand them perfectly.

 

 

...or squirrels?

The ‘Hot Lid’ Fiasco

This was a problem quite a lot in my old store, where customers had so much money that they were not accustomed to following instructions. A bit like buying IKEA furniture, and deciding you could put it together yourself. It all looks very pretty at the end, but there’s a screw missing. And then it collapses, and you curse the manufacturer, because it couldn’t possibly be your shoddy handiwork. Because you’re important.

In fact, that analogy fails, simply because this customer is not the kind of woman who does anything for herself. She has her nails done for her, her legs waxed for her, her coffee made for her. She probably had a caesarean because pushing out her spawn was too much trouble.

She has appeared in this blog before, and we commonly know her as ‘medium-mocha-frap-in-a-large-cup-extra-cream’. I have moaned about her trying to rip us off by essentially stealing whipped cream, and then causing such an earache when we try to explain that she should pay for half a cup of whipped cream, that we let it go. Because my hearing is fairly precious to me. As is my sanity.

 

Now, we don’t know her as ‘the annoying mocha frap woman/whipped cream bitch’. Now we know her as ‘that evil hag.’

If you type 'evil coffee hag' into google, this is what you get.

The following occurred, unusually not to me, but to a fellow barista, who handled it with flair. I instead cranked the ‘Cheerful Barista’ reader ALL THE WAY TO 11. Mainly to prove to customers who came after her that we’re really nice people, and she’s a douchebag.

She orders a caramel macchiato and a small hot chocolate. She normally gets this caramel macchiato ‘to stay but in a takeaway cup’ (sidenote: I don’t care where you’re having your drink. I just want to know in which type of receptacle you require it. I do not need a whole story about how ‘the paper ones keep them warmer’. We’ll all have to deal with our recycling demons one day. Your day will come.) but she didn’t say it this time. And she saw me writing it down and placing the note on one of our new shiny china mugs. So I assumed she, like many others, is interested in novelty value. Because she’s that kind of vapid bitch.

She then does that thing that drives me CRAZY. Waits quietly whilst the whole order has gone through and has started being made before she goes: ‘Oh that should be skinny.’

Cue the barista throwing away a jug full of perfectly good milk. Not at all passive aggressively.

Then she comes back. ‘Oh, those should be take away cups!’

Cue barista throwing the ready made drinks out of the mugs and into the sink. Not at all passive aggressively.

I’m also trying to serve a few OTHER PEOPLE WHO EXIST IN THE WORLD, so she’s kinda stopping me from doing that.

‘Oh, and I want cream on the hot chocolate.’

‘NOT a problem Madam!’ gritted teeth.

The barista puts the caramel macchiato down without incurring any sort of wrath. Then he puts the lid on the hot chocolate. AND THIS SHIT GETS REAL.

‘WHAT are you DOING? I don’t WANT a lid!’

Wow, the drama quote in your life must be super-low right now, if this gets you riled.

‘I’m afraid it’s store policy, we have to put lids on hot drinks.’

‘BUT THAT’S RIDICULOUS!’

Is it, is it really? You handing a hot drink to a young child and then suing the shit out of us when he burns himself….sound at all like the manipulative work of a middle-class bitch like yourself?

‘That may be so, madam, but those are the rules.’

‘Maybe they’re just YOUR rules.’

Yes, baristas love their work so much they spend time making up pointless rules for individual customers to follow. If that was the case, the rule here would be ‘Under no circumstances serve this dumb bitch.’ But no, we have no rules.

‘LOOK, YOU’VE SQUISHED THE WHIPPED CREAM DOWN!’

If you liked it then you shoulda put a lid on it.

Sweet, merciful coffee god, in the name of all that is caffeinated, please remove this woman from my immediate vicinity, before I lose my shit. My voice gets an octave higher and infinitely more cheerful (think Minnie Mouse) as I greet the next customer, who looks rather frightened by my enthusiasm.

‘I’m sorry, those are the rules. I’m not going lose my job over a….lid.’

Anyone else sure the end of that sentence was going to be ‘whipped cream bitch’?

‘WELL, put it in a regular mug! Did you HEAR ME? A REGULAR MUG!’

I’ll show you a fucking regular mug…when you look in the mirror. That’s right, I went there. Ooh, burn.

The loud cow then obstinately walks over, dumps the poor kid with this mountainously creamy hot chocolate (which she proceeds to eat- that skinny macchiato working out well for you there?) and then actively encourages her son to play loud music from her iPhone. Is there anything ruder than playing music on a phone in public places? Isn’t that reserved for chavs on the back of the bus? The worst part? She only had THREE songs, so he kept repeating them. Two of those three songs were Michael Buble.

 

She then kept shooting weird death glances over to us to see if the music was annoying. Erm, duh. Yes. Yes it was. She then left, and we knew there was going to be carnage left in her wake. It was like a coffee death scene. Ripped sugar packets, crumbled cookie, shredded lids and spoons sticking to the table with left over whipped cream and spilt milk.

So there’s another customer we’ll be running away from next week. Because, you know, we make up the rules about that.