The Local Flavor: Let’s Harrass the Help

I haven’t yet been able to determine if today was one of the shittiest days I’ve ever had at work, or if I just had two of the shittiest customers.

It started at the beginning of my shift when, a good ten minutes till 6 (when we open), my opener called to say he was running late. As I was telling him that it was okay because no one would be there for a while yet, a car pulled up directly in front of the door, headlights on, and a couple sat inside their Toyota just staring at me. Although I’d arrived a few minutes early, I still had a lot to do. The guy who delivers our baked goods (well, we bake them every morning, but you know what I mean), was there the moment I walked in the door and I had to help him out before I could get anything else done.

During the last ten minutes I had before unlocking the door, I had to brew coffee, fill up the ice bin, count the money, and make our teas, not to mention filling out paperwork and bringing in the newspapers. I just did this when I took over the cream pitchers to our condiment stand, but I knew it was a mistake as soon as I opened the door because I didn’t even have a chance to stoop down and pick up the papers when the couple was bolting out of their car to get in.

I waved at them and said, “Oh, I’m just getting the newspapers. We don’t open till six!” They both stopped and glared at me, then turned to stand next to the car.

I sighed, thinking it would be nice if this perfectly healthy couple had at least offered to help me with my 30-pound haul of crappy news. I waddled back in to the store to finish up what I could and turn on the lights. I hadn’t gotten to the last switch before they were racing one another in. The husband stood at the register and the wife made a beeline for the bathroom, where she spent at least five minutes.

I rang up their drinks, waddled over to the bar, made the drinks, and handed them over the bar. At this point, the wife had come out of the bathroom and stood looking at me. I nodded at her latte and said it was hers and to enjoy. What she said was perhaps the most irritating thing to come out of a customer yet:

“We wanted to sit outside. Why don’t you have the tables and chairs outside?”
My mouth literally fell open and I had to collect myself. “I haven’t taken them out yet. I’ve been opening the store,” I responded, not knowing what else to say.
“Well,” she said, starting to sound testy. “Do you think you can take them out? We want to sit outside.”
At this point I lost my cool. I stepped back from the bar and pointed at my stomach. “Oh, I’m sorry!” I snapped. “I’m over seven months pregnant and we’ve only been open for five minutes, during which I was helping you.”

The husband came over in a rush, saying it’s okay, it’s okay, he could take out a table for the two of them. I was still really pissy about it, so I said that was fine with me and I went and slammed myself in the walk-in fridge.

It makes me grit my teeth to recount, so I’ll keep the second encounter simple. Essentially, a grown man set a really spectacular example for his teenage daughter by berating me for the names of our cup sizes. The first thing he said when he came up to the counter was “Oh, my god. Where do you people come up with these cup names?”

You know this is one of my biggest coffee shop pet peeves, but today was an exceptional one. It got to the point where my face and ears got really hot and red, and I told the guy several times to just say “small, medium or large,” or “twelve, sixteen, or twenty ounces.” I repeated myself a couple of times by telling him that I was perfectly capable of understanding what size he wanted, no matter what language he chose to use.

It ended with me giving him a history lesson in Starbucks, a brief overview of coffee culture and trademarks, and Americans’ desire for larger and larger portions. You know, there used to be just short, tall, and grande, then someone went and invented a Venti(TM) and no one else can use that word without paying Starbucks, so we use this other word instead, but it doesn’t matter because you can say small, medium, or large . . . and as I said all of this, my voice kept getting louder and higher-pitched and my face was burning hotter and redder.
At the end of this, he said, clearly completely oblivious to my boiling rage, “Okay. I’ll have a SMALL COFFEE, which you want me to call a TALL COFFEE.” I don’t think he realized just how close he was to getting slapped in his mouth.

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4 thoughts on “The Local Flavor: Let’s Harrass the Help

  1. Freakin’ annoying! I find the names at coffee shops kind of annoying too. But do you know what I do? Shut my mouth and order what’s clearly on the menu. In the same ascending order (both price and size) as it is on any menu that has small, medium and large. It’s not that hard!

  2. I always try to stress to people like this guy that I clearly understand the difference between small, medium, and large. I don’t require anyone to use the words on the menu. I know at Starbucks they train employees to correct the customers when they use drink names other than their trademarked ones. Even if I were totally dedicated to my employers, I honestly don’t care what people call the cup sizes as long as I know what they mean.

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