I sympathize with my barista…

Seriously. People go batshit crazy when their coffee can take more than a couple minutes. Is it their fault that you just had to have your venti skinny dry vanilla latte right this minute? And what’s wrong with just ordering a plain cup of coffee anymore? Have you seen that Frappucino commercial? Their custom orders are so out there that it seems almost a sin to just get a cup of black coffee, no room. I know that’s what they’re trained to do, but if I find myself at Starbucks, I’ll usually get a venti iced unsweetened green tea just to make things simple. Also, it helps that I happen to like my tea straight up, something that continues to baffle my mother and my sisters to this day.

But, yeah, if I could, I’d probably make working a minimum wage job of any kind for a few years something legally compulsory, if only ’cause I’ve seen the kind of assholes people can be to other people who just happen to work in jobs that require them to be available to serve everyone. It would be a high school graduation requirement to work one of those jobs in order to cultivate some sort of empathy (or at least a semblance of it) in everyone and unlike some other requirements (like so-called “community service”), it would actually be useful in their future endeavors. I mean, I’ve always been embarassed if I’m a part of a dining table where everyone else seems to think that they don’t have to tip because they don’t feel like it. I don’t mention it, because maybe they have their own reasons for not bothering to tip as generously as I’d like them to, but then I feel the need to slip in a couple extra bucks and an apologetic smile.

And then, I got a work-study job at my university’s convenience store my sophomore year. Honestly, I love it; I didn’t need a resume, I get to work with awesome people, and the hours are ridiculously flexible. Not to mention that it’s a nice change from my studies. It’s not like you need to think in order to stock a small shop and the cash register does the math for you. If and when you do run into something that requires you to use your noggin, you can be like Adam Jensen and defuse a pissed off customer with a silver tongue instead of running around like an idiot in the backroom, if only to look like you’re actively looking for something even though you know it’s not there. This is gonna sound a little odd, but I think that were it not for that opportunity to work for students, I wouldn’t be half the people-person I am now. Sure, I get paid minimum wage and, yes, there are times when I want to smack people across the face for their stupidity, but this is something I enjoy. If I could find a career that both utilizes my bachelor’s degree and gives me half as much pleasure as my work-study job, then I’m all set.

But back to the whole sympathy issue. What is it about a counter that makes people think, “The person behind the counter must not human and is responsible for everything that’s gone shitty today” anyway? The things I’ve seen on fuckyeahretailrobin on Tumblr…some of them are ridiculously hilarious. They’re the kind of things that make me chuckle, like customers hitting on you but then taking it to levels of “extremely creepy” or  how people seem to miss signs that are right in front of them saying “Cash Only”. But then there are things about how people actually verbally abuse cashiers and throw tantrums. In my two years of working at what is basically a grocery store for college students, I’ve been fortunate enough to have never been in a situation where I would have to deal with anything like that. But damn! I don’t know what’s more dismaying, the fact that people are capable of behaving in such a manner or the thought that it’s only a matter of time before that happens to me.

Long story short: be civil to your cashiers. Smile at the barista and leave a tip. And, above all, stop asking for super-complex orders in the middle of the lunch rush and then explode when your order isn’t in your mouth five seconds later. It’s just coffee, geez.

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Filed under Summer 2012

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