Mr ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Your Friend’
Every now and then, there’s a certain customer at a certain time of day who just emotionally kicks the shit out of you. And I usually expect it, when it comes to extra shots of coffee, or busy businessmen, or sleep-deprived mothers. I do NOT expect it from average old men who could probably be my grandfather. I also don’t expect their emotional shit-kicking to come in the shape of etiquette lessons.
Seemingly Nice Old Man: I want a double espresso for here.
Me: Okay, that’s £1.80. How’s your day going?
Seemingly Nice Old Man: Look, you were friendly enough when you smiled as you took my order. I don’t need you to ask how my day is. I don’t want to share the details of my day with you.
Me: (without changing from cheery chipmunk voice) Not a problem at all Sir, here’s your coffee.
Now, okay, if he doesn’t want to share, he doesn’t have to. I’m not asking him to come to couples therapy and get his Kumba-Yah-Yahs out. I’m being polite. As defined by the terms of my contract. Because it’s my job to ask how his day is. And when people say shit like that, it doesn’t actually make me want to spit blood, it just makes me want to curl up in a ball, burst into tears and ask whatever deity exists WHY people are SO SHIT.
Does he think actually give a flying fuck about his day? I don’t know him. He’s ordering an espresso. He’s wearing average clothes, and I can’t even recall his face. All I can recall is the derision in his voice. And really, Mr Average, just fuck you. Because your meaningless little life is just that- meaningless.
You will live as a grumpy old man, and eventually no-one will ask you how you are, because all the people who are paid to do so will have topped themselves or run away screaming. And the people who aren’t paid to do so PROBABLY DON’T CARE.
And yes, you have to strain to remember all the lovely people throughout the day who make work worth it. The smiles and the jokes and the regular customers who not only are pleased that you’ve asked about their day, but ask about yours. Because they recognise, oh, what’s that, that I’m HUMAN BEING. And just as you deserve the right to shrug or go ‘okay’ if I ask how your day is, I deserve the right to not be treated like a fucking insurance scammer just by enquiring as to your general well being.
Let’s be clear: I am not trying to steal your identity. I am not trying to seduce you. I am not trying to weasel my way into your life so that you sign over your worldly possessions to me and then I’ll poison you. I am not looking for a father figure. I am not looking for spiritual enlightenment. I am not particularly interested in you.
I AM JUST (Say it with me!) DOING MY FUCKING JOB.
This whole ‘friendly’ thing seems to be attracting a lot of people. People who think I want to shag them. At least 90% of the time, this is not the case. If I ask how your day is, it does not start some sort of caffeinated power struggle. Let me outline the situation here: You want coffee. I provide you with the coffee. I do this in a polite way, hoping that you’re having a nice day. This is, mostly, because the terms of my job insist that I do so, by ultimately because standing in silence whilst the card machine loads is unnecessarily awkward.
So, the next time you think that someone is butting into your life when they’d rather fuck off, please consider that it’s entirely possible they would quite like you to fuck off as well.
Have a nice fucking day.