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Sunday, Bloody Sunday.

It’s been a long time coming folks! The latest post! And it’s extra long and full of vitriol! Enjoy!

 

There’s just something about Sundays that sucks arse. Big time. The clearest and simplest reason is that you’re serving people who are spending time (not quality time, but time nonetheless) with their families and friends. Which just reminds you that you are not.

Or it could be that people are just massive wankers on Sundays.

Examples, you say? Why, of course.

 

The Hungover Arsehole

 

‘Give me a fiveshot black Americano.’

‘You’re welcome’

‘Are you being SNIPPY with me? I have a HANGOVER!’

 

Oh, I’m sorry, did I miss the part where having an overabundance of alcohol in your system means social norms don’t apply to you? And maybe if you’re so fucking hungover you shouldn’t have DRIVEN to the coffee shop. Or maybe you should have had a shower. That would have made you feel better. And the rest of us would really appreciate it.

 

These aren’t really too bad. Usually, you look a bit affronted, then they get all bashful and go ‘sorry, raging hangover’ and together you laugh at why a thirty five year-old man still can’t figure out how to hold his drink. It’s a delightful bonding exercise.

 

Except, there’s The Drunk Arsehole.

 

‘OI LOVE! OI! YOU! YEAH! YOU! DARLIN’! WANNA GO ON A  DATE?’

‘I want to get you a cup of coffee.’

‘THAT’S LIKE A DATE INNIT?’

‘Do you normally pay your dates?’

‘…I’ll have a black coffee. Two sugars.’

 

The worst of these was the bigoted, homophobic, racist moron dancing around with a broom and a traffic cone on his head, shouting insults. The best was the confused tipsy man who walked in after a Christmas party and asked if he was anywhere near Leicester Square. That was the last place he remembered from the night before. Staff parties. Lethal. (Note: He was about 15 miles out of central London).

 

 

Now, none of these compare with the families. Or, more especially:

 

 

The One-Day-a-Week-Dads.

 

The worst thing about this particular specimen of customer is that they’re not always divorced dads who don’t really know how to bond with their kid in the limited time they have. That, maybe, I can understand. They buy the kids everything they could possibly eat or drink in the hopes that providing will make them the world’s best father. That’s fine, good luck to you.

It’s the ones who aren’t separated that drive me nuts. You’re looking after your children for AN HOUR. And you don’t know the dimensions of the buggy so you keep bashing into people, and you wait in a queue, telling the kid to be quiet so you can phone Mummy and ask if dear little Tarquin is allergic to nuts or dairy.

 

THIS IS YOUR KID. Stop treating it like a one day training exercise. Yes, we do babychinos. Yes, it’s just froth. Yes, chocolate has dairy in it. No, your wife doesn’t normally give your kid chocolate cake at eight in the morning. Yes, I can get you a high chair. No, it’s not adjustable. Yes, a chocolate cream has chocolate in it. No, we don’t do sugar-free caramel.

No, I’d rather little Timmy didn’t hold up a queue of fifteen people because you want him to put the card in the machine because your wife said it’s good for his motor functions. Now we have to reset cash register. Thanks. At times like this, I miss your wife. And that’s saying something, because she’s a vindictive spoilt cow who talks to me like I’m a moron. But at least she knows what she wants to fucking drink.

 

And don’t spend fifteen minutes lecturing me on why you don’t want to pay for extra shots of coffee, just to insist on a take away bag for your cake, and EAT IT OFF THE TABLE. What, you’re sitting there on an ipad but you refuse to spend twenty pence so you can have a plate? No, go ahead, please hold up an entire slew of people to ensure your child gets ‘the best possible babychino, in a bigger cup’ (who knew dick-swinging could apply to childcare?) but then sit and ignore the kid by having loud, obnoxious phone conversations with Larry at the office. And then sit waiting desperately for your wife to appear, only to hold up your darling demon child, and show her he’s still breathing and everything.

So you both toddle out, happy that you have proven your interest in your mini-me, and I am left with the destruction you have caused. The bits of tissue dear little Joel has shredded, the crumbs of carrot cake he decided to press into the sofas. The stickers on the floor, the chocolate milk sprayed across the windows, and in general, enough mess to warrant three cleaners and a forensics team.

 

Now I’m not saying all our dads are like this. We have a few stay-at-homes who come in every day, collect their coffee, allow their very polite children to ask for some water, and then quietly entertain them for an hour or so. These people are lovely. But they do not come in on Sundays. Because they, in their infinite wisdom, know that arseholes are about.

 

Oh, and a special shout out to the Sunday Dad who came in ten minutes before closing, ordered a drink, dithered about making me change said drink and then said I looked tired. When I pointed out I’d just worked a ten hour shift, he said ‘Oh yes, that would make you tired. I’ve spent all day watching TV.’

Did I go off about how I have two degrees, and am now going off to my second of three jobs after I finish that shift? Nope. Instead, I decided to pity someone who wastes a Sunday in such a manner.

So go forth readers, enjoy good coffee, make good children. And for fuck’s sake, don’t waste a Sunday!

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I’ll Huff and I’ll Puff, and I’ll be REALLY indignant.

Closing times, and other things I have no control of.

 

There are many things that, as a barista, I am responsible for; your drink, my attitude, your experience, the constant sense of pointlessness. But things I am not responsible for include: your bladder (it’s not my fault there’s someone in the bathroom) the weather (it’s not my fault you wanted a frappuccino and now it’s too cold) and our opening times.

I have had multiple responses when I say we’re closing. They’re usually indignant, sometimes they’re incredulous. Mostly, they can’t seem to fathom that I and my customers are in fact, human beings with lives. It’s a bit like when you’re a kid, and it’s easier to believe that teachers go into storage and plug in for the night, rather than accept that they have families and aspirations and sex lives. It’s very Cartesian, we only exist when they see us there. We only exist when we’re serving coffee. We don’t have homes to go to, or lives outside the coffee shop.

 

Example:

Customer: What time do you close?

Me: Five thirty.

Customer: But that’s in five minutes!

Me: Yes, that’s why we told you we’re only doing takeaway cups.

Customer: That’s outrageous, I want to speak to the manager!

Me: Why?

Customer: Because you shouldn’t close at five thirty, I have no-where else to go now!

Firstly, your lack of a life is another one of those things that is not my problem. Secondly, the reason you have nowhere else to go is because every other coffee shop closes at the same time. So go bug them about it.

 

Another: 

Customer: Why do you open so late on Sundays?

Me: We open at nine am, Sir, and usually no-one even comes in until ten, anyway.

Customer: Well, we were banging on the door for you to open, and you didn’t! We have to work in the MEDIA, we NEED you to be open for us! Plus, it’s really expensive, even with the discount you give us, so you should at least be open on time.

Me:We are open ON TIME, just the time that is dictated to us by our superiors.

Him: Well, I’m going to phone your head office about this!

Firstly, this is a lie. Unless he was banging on the door at seven in the morning before any of the staff were even there, in which case, I must reiterate: Get a life. Get a sense of adventure, invest in a caffetiere. Get a dog or something that can be forced to love you, regardless of what a horrible and simply stuck up media whore type person you are.

Why should we open earlier for you, when you are one person? One little person who occasionally comes in here, moans about the price, abuses the staff and generally treats everyone like they’re below you, just because you’re working on the latest series of Big Brother. Which, by the way, is now on Channel Five. So it’s basically gone to die, as I hope you do.

Other examples of opening time fuckwittery?

Me: Sorry, we’re closing now, I really need you guys to drink up.

Customers: Well, if we leave, you won’t have any customers.

 

Yes. That’s the point. Fuck off.

 

Me: Sorry, we close in a few minutes.

Customers: That’s bloody outrageous. Screw you. *storms off*

 

Okay. Sure. Thanks for that customer input.

 

Me: Hi guys! Just to let you know, we’re closing in five minutes.

Customer: Well, we’re meeting someone here in twenty minutes.

Me: Well, I’m afraid you’ll have to meet them outside.

Customer: It’s not appropriate to meet people on the street. You can just stay open.

 

Oh, I’m so glad that forcing a company to stay open just for you is within accepted limits of propriety.

People suck. Here endeth the rant.

Mrs ‘Skinny With Extra Cream’


So, there’s a variety of things I could have complained about today. The people who grunt when you say hello. The women who ignore you whilst having their incredibly boring conversations in front of the till. The children. The parents of said children who coo and clap as their little darling piles up every bag of coffee beans in the store in the middle of the floor. And then leave. And I’ve still got a bag full of rage from a few weeks ago that I’m waiting to unleash on a certain grandmother. But no, today is reserved for the oh so kooky, ever so crazy Mrs ‘Skinny with Extra Cream’. This is all about you, baby. And you know that’s how you like it.

Said woman’s order is thus:

‘Okay, okay, let me make it clear. I want a MEDIUM skinny mocha frappuccino light, definitely skinny, you got that? With all the sugar free syrups and stuff. Yep? Okay, but I want it in a large cup. And just fill up the rest of the cup with cream. Got it? Awesome!’

Er, okay, let’s break this down so that we can properly analyse how fucked in the head you are.

 

  1. You want non-fat, non-sugar extra extra skinny…with extra cream? What’s the fucking point? Add on the extra two hundred calories and call yourself a real woman. Jeez.
  2. You want a medium, in a large cup. And the rest filled with cream. So you want about a third of your drink to be cream. Ew.
  3. You think that I don’t understand that you’re trying to con me out of whipped cream. You think you’re getting something for free.
  4. You have at least one of these drinks EVERY DAY. The only thing you’re getting for free is a fat arse.
  5. You’re a thirty-something mother who just said ‘awesome’ in reference to the fact that a server can understand your doolally jibber-jabber. You need to start expanding the field of interests. Or possibly explain this whipped cream fetish to your husband.

 

So, is there anything particularly wrong with this woman? Well, no, if you’re gonna be all specific about it. She’s just ordering what she wants. And we love to give you what you want. Instead of what you deserve. Which is usually a big freaking reality check. I should be charging her for extra cream, but she’s clearly been a sneaky bitch about this. There has been a cleverly constructed plan that lead to this scenario. There was scheming. There may even have been a diagram.

Some things are more interesting than coffee. Like balloons.

So, what she’s done is the first time she ordered it, she waited until after she paid, then leaned over the side to demand extra cream. The next time, she asked for it in the larger cup, once again waiting until after she’d paid and the drink was already being made.

What’s more annoying to a barista than someone shouting out a change to their drink after it’s already in the process of being made? That person jumping around in and about the queue to try and pay for all these extra changes, when there’s a delicate balance of cups lined up, all waiting to be filled with delicious beverages. So we generally go, ‘ah, don’t worry about it.’

And they think that means FOREVER. Because we remember the stupid drink, therefore if we try and charge the extra cream, she’ll go ‘but they never charge me that’. I think, in law, that’s called a precedent. And it sucks.

And therefore every morning we go through this, where she rattles off the ridiculous order, and me and the other baristas do not AT ALL exchange a glance that suggests this woman is taking the piss. We simply calculate how many grams of fat is in that much whipped cream and desperately hope to see her balloon up by Christmas.

There is no such thing as a free lunch, and there is definitely no such thing as free whipped cream. Never.

 

 

Oh, and also for your viewing pleasure, I rediscovered my love of Foamy the Squirrel, a creation of the equally (if not more) twisted folks over at Ill Will Press. Here, Foamy pontificates on why ‘small’ is called ‘tall’:

 

Taste Ratios (The Tale of the Lemony Muffin)

‘So…explain these muffins to me.’

It shows you how long I’ve been working as a barista, as this didn’t even seem like a strange question. 

‘Well,’ I reply cheerily, ‘this is our muffin selection, this one has this, this and this in it. This one has nuts. My personal favourite is this.’

‘What about the lemon muffin?’ The customer points to said muffin.

‘What about it?’

‘Explain it, what’s in it?’

‘Er, lemon.’

I start to suspect this is, in fact, a customer service training exercise, and she’s an undercover market researcher. Except she’s a policewoman. That level of undercover market research may be a little too committed.

‘Yes, but how lemony is it? Is it very lemony?’

What, like you want a percentage? It is 75% lemony, with 15% sugar and 10% ZING.

‘Erm, well yes, for a LEMON MUFFIN, it’s definitely the more lemony choice amongst our pastry options.’

‘Hmm, I’m not sure if I want a lemon muffin that’s very lemony. What about the peach muffin, what does that taste like?’

There is no way to reply that the peach muffin tastes like peach without sounding sarcastic.

‘It…tastes…like…a sweet nectarine-like fruit that’s been blended in with the muffin mixture.’

Okay, that sounds even more sarcastic.

‘So there’s actually pieces of peach in the peach muffin? Does that mean there are pieces of lemon in the lemon muffin? Or is it just lemon flavoured?’

This is where I start clawing at my own face asking for some kind deity to please make it stop.

You know what lemons and coffee have in common? They both make me bitter

You’re the police, shouldn’t you be off fighting crime instead of worrying about exactly how much a muffin tastes like the thing it’s named after?

She thankfully takes the damn lemon muffin after all, and my colleague comes up to me after.

‘Hey, I wanted to ask you a question. You know orange juice…does it taste like oranges? How orange-tasting is it on a scale of one to ten? Because I don’t think I want my orange-tasting juice turned all the way up to eleven.’

On this day, I made the vow, to never eat a lemon muffin again.

Mrs ‘Nope, Not This Time’

Or

A Tale of What Might Be Obsessive Compulsion

There are certain people who like things a certain way. We might call them picky, or a little bit particular, or occasionally they explain that they are the sort of people who ‘just like things how I like them’. Helpful. I call them anal-retentive arseholes who obviously don’t have enough things to worry about.

I’ll give you an example. There’s this lady, let’s call her a massive tool. She seems really nice, chats with you a little. She usually happily chats away with the other baristas in Polish, but I don’t have that skill. So I make the drink. And EVERY time, no matter if it’s me making the drink, the supervisor, the manager, anyone, there will be something wrong with it. The Dalai Lama could bless the caffeine with infinite goodness and wisdom and she’d still find something to snipe at.

So, when we see her approaching, the staff tend to do one thing. Run for it. Because whoever is making that drink will be stuck there for ten minutes debating the milk to foam ratio and analysis of correct cup-filling procedures.

Sometimes, we run out back and draw straws. So, guess who got the short straw today. And every freaking day, it seems.

Large skinny latte, with ‘juuuuust a little bit of foam on top, just a little’. Now, I’ve been here before. Little to her is about a quarter of an inch. Except last time that was too much. The time before that was too little.

Good thing too, because if I had to do my job for the rest of my life, I'm pretty sure I'd cease to exist

So I make the goddamn drink really carefully, because if one of us ever gets the drink right first time and she doesn’t make us change something, we’re guaranteed a raise. At the very least, a high five, and the knowledge that we shall become legends amongst baristas across the land.

Hand over the drink, count backwards from three. Three…Two…On-

‘Could you take some of this foam off? I did say just a little!’

‘Of course, madam.’ I’d be delighted to remove the foam you just asked for.

‘Well, now there’s a gap, can you put some back, about half?’ She tries to smile, but her face is just not the right face for that. So she purses her lips and waits instead.

‘Riiiight….okay.’ I put half the teaspoon of foam back.

‘Can you add more milk?’

I do so.

‘More?’

I’m about to snap at this point. She’s leaning over the bar, in my face, I’ve drawn the short straw and I have one more hour of my eight hour shift to go.

‘Madam, have you noticed that if I add anymore, the lid won’t go on? Do you not want a lid then?’

‘Oh, do you think so? I’m sure that lid will fit on.’

Well, I’m guessing your job does not involve any concept of physics, space and putting stuff inside other stuff. I do not want to consider your sex life. Messy.

‘I really don’t think it will madam, the laws of physics prevent it.’

Ha ha, I’m not a mindless coffee monkey, I talked about physics! Last week I talked about the history of immigration. Give me a chance to wax lyrical on Dante’s Inferno and I’ll blow your upper class minds.

‘Well, let’s just test that theory, shall we?’ She tries to smile again and I really wish she wouldn’t. It’s like a snake trying to unhinge its jaw, ready to eat that little helpless deer. For the first time in my life, I feel rather like Bambi.

Of course, the fucking lid doesn’t fit, because a) that’s how containers work when there’s too much stuff in them, and b) I’m the person putting the lid on, so if I am proven right by the lid not fitting, the lid is not going to fit. So basically, I burnt my hand on her FOAMLESS skinny extra-hot milk, and trying not to swear when a stupid woman has made you burn yourself over an eighth of an inch of foam, is really fucking difficult. Really. Fuck.

So I pour some away, top it up and put the lid on. She stares at it, then back to me.

‘But now the foam’s gone! And what about the coffee at the bottom? You’ve lost some of the coffee. It’ll be too weak now. Why don’t you top it up with a third of a shot of espresso?’

Oh. Sweet Lord, I know I don’t usually come-a-calling, but please, please, if there isn’t anyway I can leave this situation with dignity, at least, dear Lord, please tell me there’s a divine reason for all this fuckwittery in the world, please? Wars, okay, they’re complicated. Religion, persecution, nuclear weaponry, climate change, natural disasters. All these things are difficult and complex, and we’re bound to make mistakes. But…coffee? Please, please, please, tell me I’m right in thinking that COFFEE DOESN’T MATTER.

I’m pretty sure my brain has stopped functioning at this point, so I just smile at her. Really big smile. Barista Twister ‘so-happy-to-serve-you-I’m-not-at-all-imagining-your-painful-death-right-now’ smile.

‘I’d really rather you made me a fresh one.’

Smile wider.

‘Of course, madam, that is not a problem at all, I’ve just got to check on something with my supervisor-’

‘But-’

‘Someone will be right back to fix your drink.’

‘But, why can’t you just-’

‘Right back! Right back!’

So we draw straws again, and now I get to join the group of baristas watching the CCTV footage as one of their brethren loses their mind. And as I watch the other Bambi remake the drink twice, and alter it five times, I feel like a little deer saved from slaughter.

And it feels a little bit like freedom…at least until the next bastard with no sense of perspective comes along.

UnderCover Coffee Snobs


I am not going to mock you if you don’t know about coffee. I am, however, going to mock you if you lead me to believe you don’t know about coffee, and then decide to blow my brains out with specifics.

Today’s example includes another visit to The Caramel Macchiato, where a woman wanted to know what one was. I explained it was rather sweet.

‘Sweeter than a caramel latte?’ she asks.

A reasonable question. It’s all subjective, but I would say yes, mostly because I find caramel macs to be disgusting, and more annoying to make.

‘Okay, I think I’ll just have my old boring drink then,’ she shrugs and smiles, and we think, ah, someone who drinks a latte, that’s just fine. We won’t judge you for a latte. Lattes are easy to make. They’re quick. We appreciate lattes and those who order them.

‘I guess I’ll just have a double-tall decaf soya latte, semi-dry.’

FIEND! VILE BETRAYER! You tricked me into believing you were one of the normal ones because you didn’t know about a complex drink. Then you order something twice as complex.

There are rules! You’re either the average coffee drinker, or you’re a coffee snob. Occasionally, there’s a middle ground, where you’re an obsessive compulsive, (or, as you consider it, ‘I just like things the way I like them’). Occasionally, there’s the ‘Well, I’m paying for a service, I should get exactly what I want.’ For these arseholes, see previous posts concerning the entitled masses.

Oh, but they come in all guises, these coffee snobs. I think they’re actually just people addicted to polysyllabic sentences. They’re poets, not coffee drinkers.

A woman today, a lovely woman who was polite and friendly, floored me by asking for a cappuccino. Not just a cappuccino, oh no. A cappuccino ‘somewhere in between semi-dry and normal’.

I’m not going to return again to the fact that semi-dry is a MADE UP term. Not by the company, or coffee people in general, but by people who want to be a pain in my arse. BETWEEN a non-existent middle-ground of foaminess, and NORMAL? We don’t have a moving scale of foam to milk ratio. We make cappuccinos the way we’re taught, and we pour them so that the foamed milk looks damn pretty. Occasionally, we can hold back some milk, or put some extra froth on. But we do NOT have some sort of measuring system for an imaginary descriptor.

What you’re basically saying is ‘I like my coffee at a foam-to-milk ratio that is completely indescribable to anyone else, so I’m going to say this, and you can take a guess, like trying not to offend someone when the only words you know in their language are swearwords.’ Needle in a fucking haystack. Bullseye on the other side of the freaking ocean. Take a guess honey, have a go. But if you get it wrong, you’re getting the firing squad, obviously.

Don't treat me like a mug