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You Can Do it Too! (No, you can’t. Arsehole.)

Warning: This post is severely angry and has very little merit, artistic or otherwise.

 

I don’t know if this has actually ever occurred to you, but just because you are capable of watching someone else do something, it doesn’t mean you can do it. You know how birds fly? Yeah? Well flap your fucking arms and try it. Preferably from the top of a ten storey building.

 

If I have one more customer this week imply that they could do my job, I am going to hand them my mocha-stained apron and tell them to get the fuck on with it. Okay, steaming milk is not difficult. Getting it perfect, however, is an art. Getting it to 90 FUCKING DEGREES without spilling it everywhere, scalding your own face, watching as the chemical bonds fall apart and trying not to gag on the smell of burnt milk, well, that’s not just art, that’s science. And skill. And a variety of other pointless things that I have, and you do not.

If you realised just how irritating it is to have to make two shots extra strong, one normal, with the milk steamed so that it sits on top of the coffee, and then have you desecrate the ridiculous coffee concoction you made me create with FIVE PACKETS OF SUGAR, you would cry. And then you would slap the ridiculous human who wanted the stupid drink in the first place (that’s you, FYI).

You know other times you would cry? When people make you redo their drink THREE TIMES. And then there’s a queue. And then you want the ice ‘crushed’ instead of cubed. And then you want me to brew three green teabags for exactly 90 seconds before pouring it over ice and making sure the ice doesn’t melt. You could do my job? Fuck you. No, really. We should do a Barista for The Day Challenge, where every uppety, super specific, ‘I’m so fucking important and so is my drink’ customer has to serve other uppety bastards. Oh really, you can count change, take the next order, ask about someone’s day and pretend not to care when they treat you like crap? Fine, do it.

 

Oh yes, sure, you’re a Head of Industry, doing the job of ‘the little people’ is so easy. You think because you’ve stood there chatting for thirty seconds every day whilst we make your extra hot mocha, you understand the logistics? You think because you put the sugar in before the espresso hits the cup, or because you stir the sauce before we pour the milk in, you think you’re a coffee expert, do you? Well, you’re WRONG.

You know what else is wrong with you, whilst we’re on the topic? Just because skimmed milk is called ‘skinny’ does NOT mean it’s a magical fat-burning potion. Just because I’m required to ask your name does not mean I personally want to know your name, and you’re allowed to look at me like a stalker. I don’t care about your name, age, where you live, what you do or what you think about when you’re not ordering coffee. (Sometimes, I care. But that’s only if you’re pretty or nice. Or preferably ordering something that doesn’t make me want to slap both of us in the face for taking part in this charade). Replying to my request for a name with ‘If you really want it’ is not acceptable. I do not want anything. All I want is to get through my abysmal day with no-one telling me I can’t do my job, calling me a ‘good girl’, handing me a package of what I thought was merely rubbish, but turns out to be a soiled nappy, or calling me ‘incapable’. That is all I want. Preferably a ‘thank you’ at the end of a transaction, or a smile, if I’m going to start asking for miracles.

 

Oh, whilst we’re at it, a QUARTER shot of coffee in a large size, is actually just flavoured milk. Complaining to me that our coffee is too strong, when you clearly have an intolerance to anything that tastes good, is out of order. Price? Not my problem. You think, as a VERY IMPORTANT customer, you could arrange our prices? Fine, I’ll still be getting minimum wage, as I assume the poor monkeys who work for you are also doing. Send them over to get your coffee next time, will you? That way we can bitch about you. And they never assume they could make your coffee. You know why? Because they know that you’re a control freak, and they congratulate me on being able to make your coffee five times a day without stabbing someone. DO YOU SEE WHAT YOU’RE DOING? DO YOU?

 

Just in case this whole thing was a bit subtle for you, I’ll reiterate: You are not a special or unique snowflake. Just because you designed your coffee order based on a desperate need to feel important, does not mean you can actually make it happen. You might be able to wax lyrical about Van Gogh, or talk about the ballet. Doesn’t make you a black swan. In fact, I think you should work on the idea that you’re not very special at all. And that if you’re the type of person who shouts at a minimum wage coffee monkey that your ‘almost dry’ (honestly, what the fuck does that even mean?) cappuccino isn’t ‘almost dry enough’ then you should consider that you’re not only unimportant, persnickety and average, but you’re also a bastard, and a raving lunatic.

 

Just some food for thought. Why don’t you snack on that, with your small half-caf, half shot, two pumps sugar free vanilla, soya, extra hot, almost wet latte? Fucker.

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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 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.

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?

VIPs: Very Irritating People (Or, Why People on Phones are Bastards)

VIPs: Very Irritating People (Or, Why People on Phones are Bastards)

Can it possibly get any ruder than someone trying to order whilst they’re still on the phone?

I miss these days...big phones, and Michael Douglas still made watchable films

Especially when they answer/call someone during the ordering process? So then I have to mime out questions (there’s a few other hand gestures I’d most certainly like to use instead) and point to different sized cups until they nod. Or usually, wave away my questions with a shrug and a fluttering manicured hand, only to complain very loudly when the drink they’ve received is incorrect.

This is dumb. And rude. People who do this, listen closely: You are not that important. You are not special, you are not ‘in demand’. Unless it’s a doctor telling you that the heart surgery you’re scheduled for is about to happen, or your university application forms haven’t gone through, or it’s your kid at home telling you someone is breaking in downstairs, I DON’T CARE.

It’s about old-fashioned consideration. Which perhaps only happens in places where there aren’t mobile talking devices. If you want to text and permanently ignore that I’m a human being and not just a coffee retrieval device akin to a talking vending machine from the future, that’s fine. As long as you can cogently get your fucking order across and let me do my job.

So there’s one customer who comes in on the phone, walks straight up to the bar and makes a desperate motion for pen and paper. Thinking perhaps that she needs to write down a helpline for people with lifelong rudeness problems, and is looking for a local support group, I oblige. She then WRITES DOWN HER ORDER and carries on talking. And of course, she forgets the ‘here or takeaway’ ‘which size’ and a bunch of other questions that customers never realise are necessary. So I again have to do the ‘Guessing The Specifics Dance of Death’. Which looks moronic.

Now this doesn't make me want to puke. This is NOM. But this is not what irish cream coffee smells like.

Now, she’s a regular, so I would probably let her off. Except for the fact that she has an Irish Cream latte. At nine in the morning. Which smells like whisky. Which makes me want to vomit. Thanks. I really needed you ignoring me, and then making me dance the coffee monkey dance, and then making me want to puke. Awesome. This has been a wonderful encounter that’s enhanced my day, and truly made me feel that minimum wage I get for being here is completely worth it. Thanks.

She’s not even the worst, though. Sure, there’s the pinched-face bitches who think they’re so important because their manicurist is on the phone, asking to change their appointment, who make more and more outlandish faces as I suggest drinks for them to shoot down, until I eventually get the right one.

Possibly the only people I would accept this behaviour from

If your daily dose of caffeine means so little to you, then stop ordering stupidly complicated things and expecting me to understand your little one-act play of ‘This is what my face looks like when I drink my drink.’

Anyway, onto the worst. I’ll start with a disclaimer: I am not a man-hater. I’m a feminist, an egalitarian, and generally, I know a lot of nice men. Some of them like football. So it’s not about that. But this guy was the biggest Big Male Response Cliche of all time. So know that when I write this, I think HE is a massive tool. But the rest of you, you’re okay. For the most part.

He wanders up to the counter on the phone, and stands there, talking away, not making eye contact, until eventually my frustration causes me to throw my arms up in the air in a ‘what the hell do you want?’ sort of gesture. (It’s okay, I was smiling my coffee-monkey smile. You know, the one that’s held up by staples, gaffer tape and self-loathing.)

He then stands there, the phone still to his ear and says:

‘Hmm…I’lllll haaaaaave…..I’llll haaaaave…..Hmm…I’lll haaaave…’

I’ll spare you the repetition, this went on for approximately seventy-five seconds, whilst I bit my tongue to stop me from screaming out ‘WHAT? WHAT DO YOU WANT? WHAT?’

I’m assuming the person on the other end of the phone would be in the same position.

He orders a medium cappuccino to take away, thank goodness.

And then he LEAVES THE QUEUE. As in, he suddenly carries on his phone conversation, and walks back to the pastry case, where he briefly inspects the paninis, and then stands staring into thin air.

There are five people in the queue behind him, waiting to be charged at my till.

So in the interest of fairness (or just that I was briefly shocked into stunned silence- doesn’t happen often) I give him thirty seconds to find a panini. Except that he’s not looking for one. He’s just standing there. Talking about the BLOODY FOOTBALL.

Hardly a business call worth holding up five people, who all have equally important things to be doing.

So, after sharing a variety of incredulous stares with staff and customers alike, I call over to him.

‘Sir, if there isn’t anything else, would you mind coming back here to pay for you drink?’

He then does the single most infuriating thing I may have ever experienced. He puts his finger to his lips, makings a ‘shh’ing gesture, and tells me to wait a minute. Luckily enough, I didn’t have a rage blackout, as I thought I might, but instead erupted into hysterical giggles, which was probably safer for everyone.

Phone bastards. I hope he’s paying too much for his contract and his football team lost. There. Hah.