rudeness, customer style…

by santoki

Working at the coffee house has been a delicious caffeinated treat. For the most part, the neighbors have been friendly, welcoming, and really supportive of a coffee that isn’t served by a multi-national corporation. But then, what would a day be without the presence of the least part?

louthrows2nd.jpgOn my first day, a fellow barista served up a double espresso. It seems that a woman ordered this beverage to-go for her husband. He was waiting outside. She received her drinks, paid with a credit card, and took off. A few minutes later, she returned.

She came up to me and sotto voce said, “This espresso is cold.” I asked if she wanted a new one, and she said, “No. That’s alright. My husband is a chef. He wanted me to tell you that it was cold.” Um. Okee doke. How about a refund? Then she repeated, “He just thought you guys should know.” What I think she was gently trying to say was “Mr. Chef said that you gave him a cold espresso.” Either that, or “Mr. Chef thinks you have discovered a great method for cold extraction and we should go into business together!”

After Mrs. Chef left again, I began my investigation. That’s right. I stuck my finger in the drink. Yes, I licked it. I am not ashamed, scientific method and all. I’d do it again. Visually, the crema was beautiful and plentiful, and the coffee seemed the perfect color and texture. On the down side, the thermometer read 57°F and any aromatics were gone, gone, gone. I went to the machine and pulled a test espresso. 23 second pull, serving temperature a piping 155°F. So much for cold extraction. Well then, why would Mr. Chef think we would serve cold coffee?

Mr. Chef doesn’t understand thermodynamics.

Quick math problem: if you put 3 fl. ozs. of 155°F espresso into a paper cup, wait 30 seconds for a credit card to clear, give it a 16 second jostle while trying to rebalance three beverages and a purse, and then take a 40 second walk across the street to deliver said beverage to Mr. Chef, who has been waiting outside on a 38° F afternoon, what will the temperature of the espresso be? If you said frickin’ cold, give yourself a gold star. Mr. Chef should know better. Props to Mrs. Chef for rolling her eyes when delivering the message.

Another woman came in yesterday, and went off on an angry tirade about the presence of flat screen televisions in the shop. She said that they were “annoying, and ridiculous.” She went on a rant that touched on the degradation of our culture, the horrors of the images transmitted, and the pitiful state of the union when televisions become a necessary white noise. Bossman tried to explain that the televisions were going to be kept on mute, and would likely be set to the news. She went on another tirade stating that people were trying to escape the news. Furthermore, they needed a place to escape their television sets. I know that the only way I can stop watching television is to leave my house and go far, far away. Oh, wait. What’s this?



Anyhow, the owner tried to explain that we would have it set to sporting events on occasion, and it would make people happy that they wouldn’t miss baseball season when they needed to pop in for some gelato. Then she went on another riff about sports in general. Okay lady. I was willing to put up with it for a bit, but now you’re out of control. What the heck does she have against baseball?! Mind you, I would rather listen to the game on the radio, but frankly, there is nothing lovelier on an HDTV than a baseball diamond. But I digress.

Bossman politely defended the object of scorn by saying that there are a lot of kids in the shop during the day, so we would have one of the stations tuned to a kid’s channel. The kiddies probably need to be entertained to keep them peaceful. In a huff, she turned and said, “well, let me know when they will be here so I can schedule a time when I won’t.”

Someone should switch to decaf. Bossman looked at me and said “The customer is always right.” Yeah, right. Except when they are wrong.

But truly, I think the real gem of the day came from a deceptively pleasant looking grandma-type. She came in for a cup of coffee. I handed her the drink and rang up her order. While I was counting out her change, she asked me something. I didn’t hear what she had said, so I said “Hmm?”

Big mistake. Direct quote: “You shouldn’t say ‘huh.’That is very rude! Just rude! You shouldn’t say that. You shouldn’t say ‘huh.'” Okay, perhaps the gentile prefer “pardon,” but geez. Projecting much?

I just looked at her in shock. I had no response to that. After what can only be called the offspring of an awkward moment and pregnant pause, I smiled and asked her if she had our frequent coffee drinker’s card. If you get ten punches, you get a free beverage!

Let’s get something straight. There is constructive criticism, and there is taking out your bad day on the girl behind the counter. Save the snark for the professionals please. They make 15 times more per hour than your friendly neighborhood barista and have health insurance. Regrettably, there will be moments where the mental filter that prevents you from using the aproned workforce as a personal punching bag might go missing. When the compulsion arises, keep in mind: if you wouldn’t say it to your nana, you shouldn’t say it to me. Should the urge to rant be so overwhelming that it can’t be stopped, kindly leave a big tip.