A Tale of What Might Be Obsessive Compulsion
There are certain people who like things a certain way. We might call them picky, or a little bit particular, or occasionally they explain that they are the sort of people who ‘just like things how I like them’. Helpful. I call them anal-retentive arseholes who obviously don’t have enough things to worry about.
I’ll give you an example. There’s this lady, let’s call her a massive tool. She seems really nice, chats with you a little. She usually happily chats away with the other baristas in Polish, but I don’t have that skill. So I make the drink. And EVERY time, no matter if it’s me making the drink, the supervisor, the manager, anyone, there will be something wrong with it. The Dalai Lama could bless the caffeine with infinite goodness and wisdom and she’d still find something to snipe at.
So, when we see her approaching, the staff tend to do one thing. Run for it. Because whoever is making that drink will be stuck there for ten minutes debating the milk to foam ratio and analysis of correct cup-filling procedures.
Sometimes, we run out back and draw straws. So, guess who got the short straw today. And every freaking day, it seems.
Large skinny latte, with ‘juuuuust a little bit of foam on top, just a little’. Now, I’ve been here before. Little to her is about a quarter of an inch. Except last time that was too much. The time before that was too little.
So I make the goddamn drink really carefully, because if one of us ever gets the drink right first time and she doesn’t make us change something, we’re guaranteed a raise. At the very least, a high five, and the knowledge that we shall become legends amongst baristas across the land.
Hand over the drink, count backwards from three. Three…Two…On-
‘Could you take some of this foam off? I did say just a little!’
‘Of course, madam.’ I’d be delighted to remove the foam you just asked for.
‘Well, now there’s a gap, can you put some back, about half?’ She tries to smile, but her face is just not the right face for that. So she purses her lips and waits instead.
‘Riiiight….okay.’ I put half the teaspoon of foam back.
‘Can you add more milk?’
I do so.
I’m about to snap at this point. She’s leaning over the bar, in my face, I’ve drawn the short straw and I have one more hour of my eight hour shift to go.
‘Madam, have you noticed that if I add anymore, the lid won’t go on? Do you not want a lid then?’
‘Oh, do you think so? I’m sure that lid will fit on.’
Well, I’m guessing your job does not involve any concept of physics, space and putting stuff inside other stuff. I do not want to consider your sex life. Messy.
‘I really don’t think it will madam, the laws of physics prevent it.’
Ha ha, I’m not a mindless coffee monkey, I talked about physics! Last week I talked about the history of immigration. Give me a chance to wax lyrical on Dante’s Inferno and I’ll blow your upper class minds.
‘Well, let’s just test that theory, shall we?’ She tries to smile again and I really wish she wouldn’t. It’s like a snake trying to unhinge its jaw, ready to eat that little helpless deer. For the first time in my life, I feel rather like Bambi.
Of course, the fucking lid doesn’t fit, because a) that’s how containers work when there’s too much stuff in them, and b) I’m the person putting the lid on, so if I am proven right by the lid not fitting, the lid is not going to fit. So basically, I burnt my hand on her FOAMLESS skinny extra-hot milk, and trying not to swear when a stupid woman has made you burn yourself over an eighth of an inch of foam, is really fucking difficult. Really. Fuck.
So I pour some away, top it up and put the lid on. She stares at it, then back to me.
‘But now the foam’s gone! And what about the coffee at the bottom? You’ve lost some of the coffee. It’ll be too weak now. Why don’t you top it up with a third of a shot of espresso?’
Oh. Sweet Lord, I know I don’t usually come-a-calling, but please, please, if there isn’t anyway I can leave this situation with dignity, at least, dear Lord, please tell me there’s a divine reason for all this fuckwittery in the world, please? Wars, okay, they’re complicated. Religion, persecution, nuclear weaponry, climate change, natural disasters. All these things are difficult and complex, and we’re bound to make mistakes. But…coffee? Please, please, please, tell me I’m right in thinking that COFFEE DOESN’T MATTER.
I’m pretty sure my brain has stopped functioning at this point, so I just smile at her. Really big smile. Barista Twister ‘so-happy-to-serve-you-I’m-not-at-all-imagining-your-painful-death-right-now’ smile.
‘I’d really rather you made me a fresh one.’
‘Of course, madam, that is not a problem at all, I’ve just got to check on something with my supervisor-’
‘Someone will be right back to fix your drink.’
‘But, why can’t you just-’
‘Right back! Right back!’
So we draw straws again, and now I get to join the group of baristas watching the CCTV footage as one of their brethren loses their mind. And as I watch the other Bambi remake the drink twice, and alter it five times, I feel like a little deer saved from slaughter.
And it feels a little bit like freedom…at least until the next bastard with no sense of perspective comes along.