You scream, I scream, Let's All Scream at a Barista!

“Relationships are like pudding to me.  I can have one at any time” – Jake Gyllenhaal for shizzle.  

For the past couple of weeks, I have noticed that I have massive reactionary sarcasm in coffee shops, grocery stores, banks, bodegas, anything that has customer service.  Don’t get your tampon string in a wad – I worked in the service industry for ten years starting with Manhattan Bagel and ending with Jack and Jill’s in Beverly Hills.  Try and guess which one I s**t my pants in.

How many times have you gone into a coffee shop like Starbucks and waited in a ginormous line to order coffee, only to be assaulted by an overly energetic barista who would rather have a conversation than do their job?  Oh, this happens to me every day – doesn’t matter if its Coffee Bean or a mom and pop café, every time I am amazed at the idiocy that inhabits them.  Now, I know I sound like an assh*** and I am here to tell you maybe I am, but let’s look at the facts here:

  1. Coffee is a stimulant that you need to wake up, concentrate and avoid eating.
  2. Before ordering, I am lacking all of those things, so back off.
  3. I don’t know you.
  4. Please, thank you and you’re welcome are the only necessary words.
  5. The customers who engage obviously have self-esteem issues.

Full disclosure: I have taken part in both sides of the argument and I am making sweeping generalizations that include me and because I can.

Coffee shops are not the only culprits in this scenario.  Pinkberry has become aggressively perky lately, all movies theatres with assigned seats have taken hospitality to a new level.  All restaurants are cursed with this, which ends in suicidal waiters who recommend crappy food.  I respect a non-communicative waitress who does her job more than a “friendly” one who annoys me.  The only establishment that in my opinion is allowed to behave in a warm friendly way is a neighborhood bar that’s empty.  Bartenders work off of tips so they can lube up their customers with chit chat and the patrons are under the influence and most likely looking for conversation or maybe even a one night stand.  This I approve of. But Starbucks – what’s your excuse?  I will tip you more if you shut up.

Recently at my local Starbucks, after waiting in a mammoth line I was forced to endure the following interaction:

S-Bucks Employee: “HI, How are you?”

Me:  “Good, you?”

S-Bucks Employee:  “Pretty Good, Pretty Good, can’t complain.  You look good today, have you lost weight?”

Me:  “Um.  No.”

S-Bucks Employee:  “Well you look good. What can I get for you?”

Me:  “Regular Coffee.”

S-Bucks Employee:  “Want anything sweet with that? The cookies are really good today!”

Me:  “Nope, I’m good.”

S-Bucks Employee: “$1.95. Would you like a receipt?”

Me:  “Nope.”

S-Bucks Employee:  “How’s work going?  Busy day?”

Me:  “Nope.”

S-Bucks: “I hear ya! Have a good day, Melissa, see you soon.”

WTF.  So many things wrong with this conversation. Let’s play Where’s Waldo with this interaction.  How many times do you think this guy crossed the line or got weird or was just plain annoying?  The answer will be at the bottom of the article.

This employee has on multiple times asked me if I have lost weight.  That’s offensive – it implies that at one point I was fat, which I’m not.  I haven’t lost weight so it’s an empty attempt to compliment me.  That’s like asking “How far along are you?”  I’M NOT PREGNANT.   Real life.  That happened to me when I was a waitress and I went to the back and cried concerned that I looked pregnant.  Aprons are unflattering; they don’t fall well on me, high waisted or low waisted.  Attention mothers, sisters, wives, mistresses, girlfriends, daughters, friends with benefits, please tell the men in your life that’s not okay.  Pregnancy and weight should never be discussed in a casual conversation while ordering anything.

The reason I bring this topic up is because I have a lot to say about it.  But the main reason is, I am embarrassed at my behavior.  I feel the many times I have rolled my eyes, not made eye contact, sighed, asked where my order was, said out loud to other people “What is taking so long?”, cursed and stormed out has left me with the feeling that maybe it’s me.  I don’t do these things all the time and maybe they aren’t that noticeable but I have done them in my lifetime.  So I have to be honest with myself: Do I feel this way because I am trained to want everything instantly or because I hate human interaction?  Honestly, I’m unsure.  Sometimes its both.  I grew up in the south and maybe this is a revolt on the slow speech, slow cars and lackadaisical people that I put up with for many years.  Either way, my behavior isn’t necessary, it’s like speeding up to stop at a red light.  Pointless.

I will say this.  I would love it if all Coffee shops were a little bit more like any government run service.  I’d love me a good old DMV barista.

Annoyance count is: 12.   And I s**t my pants at Jack and Jill’s of Beverly Hills.  Didn’t think I would out myself, did you???

Image by Mitch Loidolt


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