Tales of a Former Barista: Café Pet Peeves

For more than five years I worked in a café serving coffees, sandwiches, sushi, and even Ovaltine. But mostly, I served bubble tea. After so long, nothing took longer than anything else (except sushi, which was later retired at my workplace) and I couldn’t have possibly cared what people did or didn’t order. I loved the job, worked whenever I could, made friends with coworkers and customers, and even spent most of my off-time there. But some things that customers did… some were just too much to handle.

Here I present to you: The Worst Things. Now I know that some of these things may even sound almost normal, if encountered rarely and reasonably. It didn’t happen that way! This is all the time, consistent, terrible.

Taking Forever to Order

Simple line drawing of Dollissa as a barista, looking frustrated as she waits for a customer man to decide between tea or coffee.

Okay, it’s a café. Why don’t you already know what you wanted? Why did you come in? Did you want a coffee? Say coffee, I’ll get you one so fast it’ll make your head spin. Or did you want a bubble tea? I can make three at a time, just pick the damn flavor. We always have the same ones, most places do.

I would try to solve this one in a friendly way, by offering to recommend a drink, but that usually just resulted in a series of increasingly difficult decisions, such as iced or hot, or small or large. We would both get frustrated. At one point, for the bubble teas, we built a spinning wheel to choose flavors. Customers loved it! They would spin and then decide that they wanted the same thing they always get instead. Problem solved.

I’ll Take That With Seven Sugars, Please

A simple line drawing of a customer lady holding some frothy drink. She is vibrating from so much sugar.

No, I’m not going to give you seven sugars. If you’re as appalled as me, I’d like to point out that people actually ordered this. Seven whole sugars. I never did it though. I couldn’t bring myself to personally inflict someone with diabetes, so I would always put less sugar. If they asked for more, I’d hand them the bowl and spoon. I wasn’t going to dirty my hands with it.

If the customers were repeat customers, I would slowly lower their sugar intake. They didn’t seem to notice much. I feel like I did a dishonest good deed.

“No, I’ll Pay!”

A man and a woman withe money in their hands and heart bubbles all around do some happy flirt. Dollissa's head is in the corner, apparently looking at them and seething.

So you’re in a brand new relationship, how sweet! And you chose to come to our fine establishment for a nosh. No problem. But don’t inflict on me the uncertainty about financial situations in your new coupling by fighting over the check. It isn’t cute and it’s totally wasting my precious time that I could be spending on drinking ever more coffee, more, more, more.

Anyway, my solution for this was to grab money from whoever held it out first. Bam! Congratulations, you’re paying! If both parties held the money out, I would indiscriminately choose one, without waiting for them to decide. “He had it out first!” I’d jokingly say, as I handed them their receipt before they even realized their argument was over.

The Grass is Greener

Dollissa holds up a small cup and a large cup as a customer looks confused and asks for a Medium.

“Would you like that iced coffee small or large?”

“I’ll have medium.”

This one really gets my figurative goat! Do you even know how many ounces the sizes are, if you don’t know enough about the place to know there are only two sizes? You are just choosing an arbitrary third option because it wasn’t offered to you. I know your game! The prices are all practically the same anyway.

Sneer Back

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