Oh, coffee. Can’t live without it. For me, this is particularly true, as working at a coffee shop has paid my bills for over two years. Sometimes, when people get coffee, they act a little weird. In fact, they act more than a little weird. Inspired by Hot Chocolate Man (#12), I wanted to vocalize some of the weirdness, to let the world know about some of the truly strange characters that I have met while making coffee. All of these events and quotes actually happened to me or around me, at either Starbucks in Nashville or at Wiggin Street Coffee here at Kenyon.
1. We have a french press that comes with a little timer that goes off when you have to push the screen down. Once, a man said, “Ooh, I was worried that if I pressed that down before the timer went off I would get in trouble. You’d totally give me a spanking, right? *wink*”
2. “Excuse me, can I tell you something privately?” I leaned over the counter. “Your coworker is being, I’m sorry to say this, a total COW. She should work harder.” My coworker was doing inventory, which meant she was walking around with a clipboard counting every item in the store (I’m not kidding…like every mug, every milk carton, and every pack of gum. I’m not entirely sure why Starbucks has this system.) “I’m sorry you feel that way, ma’am,” I said in a deliberately measure tone. “You don’t think she’s being a COW?” she whispered. “Um, no?” I said.
She left in a huff, without ordering anything. I’m still not sure why it happened.
3. *Takes homemade cookie out of pocket*
“You can blend this into a Frappucino for me, right?”
4. I used to work across from a Cheesecake Factory, and the waiters would sometimes sneak us cheesecake slices. Once, one of them gave me an Oreo cheesecake. When I said thanks, he replied, “Bet your boyfriend can’t do this for you, can he?”
Yeah, but I also don’t evaluate my love life solely on the basis of who can give me the most cheesecake.
5. A Kenyon professor, who shall remain nameless, will only accept his cappuccino if we flirt with him in some way. Not kidding, it’s store policy. I usually leave this task to those who are infinitely more pleasant than I am.
6. Inexplicably, people will come into Wiggin Street Coffee and immediately say, “I hate Starbucks.” OK, what does that have to do with me?
Even more inexplicable: people going to Starbucks and telling me emphatically that they hate Starbucks, which also happened.
7. Once, a woman found her way through a door we forgot to lock 30 minutes after close. We had turned off all the machines, emptied all the coffee pots, and taken out the cash to count it. When we asked her to leave, she screamed, “can’t you just MAKE ME A LATTE?” I was lucky to work with a pretty formidable coworker, who was running the shift. He shoed her out, explaining that it was illegal for non-employees to be in the store when we had the cash drawer out.
8. “This coffee is so expensive.” Yeah, that price is also paying for my rent/tuition/groceries/car repair/Christmas presents. Also, sometimes people who say this are wearing watches that cost as much as my yearly rent. Just saying.
9. Cup Lady: There is a Kenyon mom who comes in and INSISTS that we do not put her cup face down on the counter, or put a lid on it.
The first time she came in, I couldn’t hear her request. So when I put it face down, she screamed, “did you NOT HEAR WHAT I JUST SAID? Do NOT PUT MY CLEAN CUP ON YOUR DIRTY COUNTER” (the counter, by the way, was spotless).
When she came back six months later, I didn’t recognize her and went to put her cup face down (it’s a store policy to write on the bottom of cups, and a habit). Before it reached the counter, she snatched it from my hand and slammed it on the counter face-up. “Yeah,” she said. “That’s right.” I went to get her drink, quaking in fear.
10. “Wait, you go to college? Oh, do you go to the local community college? Wait, you go to Kenyon?” Yep, Kenyon mom/random student/professor. I am simultaneously a person with a job and a college student.
11. “I came in here the other day and they made my drink wrong.” Chances are “they” are one of my close friends. And also a human being, who makes mistakes just like everyone else.
12. Hot Chocolate Man: Last month, I had finished a first draft of an 18-page paper before work, and my brain was fried. The district manager was in the store when I got to my shift, and I was rehearsing my speech about wanting to continue working for Wiggin Street after I went abroad for a year, while memorizing our featured coffee and trying to get the store ready for a possible audit.
Meanwhile, I made a man a hot chocolate and chatted with a good friend who often comes in the store while I am working. The next day, I didn’t have my glasses on, so the man must’ve not recognized me when he came in again. He said to my coworker, “the girl yesterday didn’t make my hot chocolate as well as you do. She didn’t stir it, you’re supposed to stir it right? I had to stir it myself. And it wasn’t hot enough.” I was mortified, but he kept going on about how I didn’t make his hot chocolate correctly while I was right there and he didn’t even notice.
But then, it got worse: “She was too busy flirting with the guy at the counter to make my drink right, I guess.” At this point I tried to clear my throat loudly, but I don’t think he noticed me. I was furious. Flirting? I was focusing on 500 different things at that moment, including making his not-hot-enough hot chocolate. Second of all, he could’ve definitely said something. I’ve remade drinks plenty of times before, because I care about my job. And finally, is it really worth it to go on a rant about something as trivial as a hot chocolate?
13. “Do you think that guy who works on Thursdays is flirting with me because he said ‘have a nice day?’ Can I take your picture? Do you know if that Thursday guy is single? Can you hook me up with one of the guys from Wiggins?”
No, no, no, and no.
Ok, maybe you can take my picture.
14. One time, a guy talked to me during my break, found me on Facebook with only my first name and the fact that I worked at Starbucks, and sent me a message saying that he felt a “real connection” and that I had an “artist’s spirit and a gentle soul.” Thanks, dude.
Despite all this, I really do love my job. And for every weirdo, there is a customer who has become a lifelong friend. I’m not quitting coffee anytime soon. So keep expecting those subpar hot chocolates, face-down cups and perfectly flirty cappucinos from this “gentle soul,” because I’m not going anywhere.
Image Credit: Lena Mazel