(Yes, I know that’s not a word. I’m an English graduate. Yes, sometimes educated people make coffee. Shocking, isn’t it?)
So, upon returning to work, I was eager to notice how fucking annoying everyone is. Except sadly, they have for the most part let me down. People have been cordial, polite, happy. Excited about Christmas and happy to compromise. Stupidly happy to pay an extortionate amount of money for a festive-themed drink. Which, obviously, makes my job at the cafe easier, and my job at this blog much more difficult. Hmph.
Still, I managed to glean a few moments.
So I present to you:
Mrs ‘It’s Not Like This at Harrods!’
She seemed fine, mostly. Her granddaughter’s cuteness made up for her grating voice. And that tells you how cute that baby was. Nails on a freaking blackboard. Especially when deciding to buy a cookie for said granddaughter, and then insisting that the little girl carry the plate over to her granddad. Now generally, this is a pretty sweet but anxiety-ridden moment, watching a four-year-old toddle along holding a china plate with a cookie the size of her head. Except the grandma seems to need to tell her husband that the child is coming over.
‘TREVOR! TREVOR! SHE’S WALKING TO YOU, TREVOR! WATCH OUT, SHE’S WALKING! HOLDING A PLATE! A PLATE!’
Of course she’s holding a fucking plate, you just gave it to her. Also, poor Trevor (who I assume has probably suffered irreparable ear damage, just as I have) was only standing slightly behind her. That’s a lot of unnecessary name-calling. Even if it is his actual name.
She then proceeds to order, change her mind, reorder, forget what she’s ordered and start all over again. This is fine, she’s an old lady, I’m not agist. But here’s the kicker: she asks for a cup of hot water.
Our health and safety does not allow for us to hand out hot water (you can understand why here) so I offer her tea (yes, I realise putting a teabag in the cup does not negate the fact that I would be handing her a cup of hot water). She doesn’t drink tea (what a sad existence). She then requests ‘hot water, with a few thinly cut slices of fresh lemon.’
I guffaw back that we don’t have any fresh fruit available beyond bananas. And I wouldn’t want to put them in hot water.
‘You’ve no lemon?’ She’s aghast! Could it be, a coffee shop that doesn’t serve non-calorie, non-caffeinated, not-really-a-drink, drinks? For shame.
‘Well, okay then.’ She sighs deeply, about to compromise. I tell her our camomile tea is lovely (bleugh). She reinforms me that she doesn’t like tea. I am clearly a cretin.
‘Well, how about hot water with some fresh mint?’
I’m sorry, how is fresh mint a step down from lemon? I know, I’ll go and pick it from the rooftop herb garden that I keep for just such occasions. And also, gross, steamed mint in a cup. I resist pointing out that we have mint tea, which is in fact, mint in hot water.
‘I SUPPOSE I’ll just go without a drink then!’
Oh great, I’m supposed to feel guilty because you’re high maintenance? How is that fair? And all I could think was poor, poor Trevor. He’ll have to hear all about her terrible ordeal with the lack of mint. Probably at close range and high volume.
Mrs ‘I KNOW ABOUT THESE THINGS’
Occasionally, we get drinks wrong. Or rather, to defend my barista family, we make drinks the way we’re told, and you like them a specific way that does not always coordinate with our training. You picky bastards.
But for the most part, if you think a cappuccino is a bit too fluffy, or the latte’s not got enough coffee in it, we’ll fix it, with a smile and an apology (even though it’s clearly your fault for being so demanding). However, it’s all in the way you say it. Because when we explain why we’ve made it that way, there’s one thing you can reply with that may be the most infuriating thing in the world. It is a red flag in front of a bull:
‘Well, I’ve been having them for years, and I’ve never had one like that. So it’s clearly wrong.’
Oh really? Wow, you’ve been drinking that for years, have you? And have you measured the consistency, caffeine-levels and foaminess of each one? That’s a lot of effort. Wow, you sure are a coffee connoisseur, we should hire you to stand over us and let us know when we’re fucking up a cappuccino.
You’ve been drinking them for years? I’ve been making them for years, who do you think has a better concept of how the fucking drink is made correctly?
Speaking of Understanding Your Mouth, there are things like this:
‘I hope you make it better today, the last one tasted like water.’
How on earth does it taste like water when it is made from milk, coffee and caramel syrup? Maybe you should stop smoking and you’d be able to taste the fucking thing.
‘Where’s the coffee in this?’
Erm, in the mug with the remainder of your drink, that is, the tiny droplet of milk you left in the bottom before complaining about it. Which leads me to assume that the coffee left the mug at precisely 3.15pm, where it then travelled in a vertical direction down your oesophagus. I therefore believe your phantom espresso shot is in your stomach. Ah, the powers of deduction.
‘This doesn’t feel heavy enough’
Drink it. Taste it. It’s good. It’s the exact weight a cappuccino should be. I can weigh it for you. If you try judging your drinks with your mouth instead of your hand, it’s a much more pleasing experience.
In Other News:
Today included a Pointer, who decided saying ‘Pan Au Raisen’ or even ‘that swirly pastry thing with the raisins’ was too much. So he just jabbed his finger against the glass for five minutes whilst I interjected with ‘this one?’ until he eventually said ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’.
A woman seriously asked me this:
‘Could you stop the automatic door from opening every time someone walks in?’
Well, then it would cease to be an automatic door, and become simply a door. Its sense of identity would be lost, as well as its meaning in life, and it would kill itself out of desperation. And we like our door. It confuses customers who can’t figure out how to open it. Here’s a clue: It’s automatic. And there’s a big fucking button.
‘I’m very sorry Madam, we can’t stop the door from being automatic. It’s not its fault it’s different. You could move to sit someone else.’
‘THERE IS NOWHERE ELSE!’
‘Well, that’s a very bleak outlook on life you have Madam.’
So, that’s it for now, I promise to be more scathing next time, instead of mildly philosophical and quietly amused. In fact, I can guarantee it. Fucking Eggnog lattes. What the hell is eggnog? Why do we add it to coffee? Why is there no alcohol in it? What kind of disgusting things do the people who enjoy them eat? These and other questions answered next time, on Cafe Disaster.