Not a Whole Latte Love

CoffeeOn Sundays I get up earlier than most people, walk and feed the dogs, get some coffee, and buy stuff to make a big, usually unhealthy, breakfast. With Cavan gone and Charlie working as the assistant manager at the nightclub, I wondered if I would continue this tradition. Charlie sent me a text message around 6am to say he was on his way home. I want to make sure he gets enough sleep. When Cavan was still living with us he would generally get up around 10 and when Charlie wasn’t working so late, he’d be up maybe an hour after that. We’d all have biscuits and gravy or a sausage-egg-hash-brown-and-cheese casserole, orange juice, and coffee.

I did sleep in a bit today, though. I got up a little after eight and puttered around, cleaning out the fridge and having some tea rather than coffee. But then the caffeine headache started up so I decided to get some coffee anyway. When I got to the store all three male employees we have were working. For some reason, this puts people off. They like the girls to be working. When it was me, Annie, and Audrey working every Saturday morning together, people liked to say it was the All Star Team. I attribute our Saturday morning success to a shared attribute: anxiety. All three of us get nervous when it gets busy and we kick it in to high gear. We each could pound out drinks one after another and people were always thrilled not to have to wait too long, and to be greeted in a friendly manner, regardless of the fact that there was a line to the front door.

The guys operate with a slightly less-frenzied pace and are not always as pleasant as they could be to our regulars. They make fun of us for being too high-strung and moving too fast. But it’s not the kind of anxiety that makes me sick or that I bring home with me when I clock out. It’s temporary. Annie called it a Sense of Urgency and it was something she wanted all of us to exhibit. Except not all of us care to.

The store wasn’t too busy when I arrived but John was on the bar with about three drink orders and it looked like he was already starting to freak out. Mark was there, our newest employee; a sweet guy who’s sober as a judge but who you’d think was stoned out of his mind all the time. Matt was running back and forth between the register and the coffee maker. Apparently it wouldn’t stop brewing and had been pouring water for about fifteen minutes before I got there. I was patiently waiting for John to finish his orders so I could hop on an make myself something but Matt’s concern over the coffee machine concerned me. I checked the brew and two lights were on: the one to start a half brew and the one for a full pot. But the emergency stop button wasn’t lit up. I poured out as much of the brown water that was filling up the pot as I could then hit the half-brew button. The emergency stop light came on and I hit it. The machine stopped brewing. Matt was happy.

I went back by the bar and John snapped “Do you need in here?” I said no, I wasn’t in a hurry or anything. Then two customers came up to me. One asked if I was coming in to work, and he seemed to be hoping more than just asking. The other asked if I was there to train the guys. I think a couple of them overheard this and I felt bad. I made myself a small coffee and just left.

I really wish the guys I worked with wouldn’t get so upset while they’re there. One of them takes every slight personally, one could care less if he was there, and the other just doesn’t seem to get it. And I wish people didn’t make them feel crappy for not being The Girls.

Mornings like this make me think perhaps I should work more often on Sundays. But I like having them off. It’s a good day to get caught up on homework and one of the only days of the week Charlie and I actually have off together, despite his needing to sleep. It makes me feel good to know people think I do my job really well, but it is just a coffeeshop. The regulars are spoiled. Most everyone that works there has been with us well over a year – some two or three – and we know their drinks. But only a couple of us have the drinks ready by the time the customers are finished paying. They want this to happen every day they come in. Sometimes it’s just impossible for any of us to do that, though, and people get really impatient. Even at their slowest, most of my coworkers are faster than the kids I worked with at Starbucks – and they use super-automatic machines with steam wands that automatically shut off at 160 degrees. There isn’t a whole lot of barista-ing involved in working at a Starbucks.

I think if this mild inconvenience – this extra 60 second wait – is the worst part of your day, you should step back and take stock in what’s important to you. Try and be a little nicer to the guys who aren’t as good at multi-tasking. If you feel the service isn’t that great, no one’s forcing you to tip.

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