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Barista! A Grande Skim Offensive Latte

My struggle with catering to the whims of every belligerent customer who comes through the door reached comic proportions the other day when a patron especially sensitive to breast cancer came in for a skim latte and left in a huff. How was I supposed to know?

It had already been a long day at the office. My energy level - and tolerance for condescending yuppie bitches with their miserable offspring - was winding down. It was near closing time and patience was in short supply when one of the said yuppie bitches noticed a sign on our register countertop that piqued her interest. Unpleasantness ensued.

Earlier in the day, my coworker "Leona," who is also a school teacher, stopped by and showed us her new faculty photos. "Can I have one for my wallet?" I joked. She happily cut me a 2 x 3.

Not thinking much about it, I set Leona's picture by the register, wedged into a standing countertop sign display. As far as I can tell, nobody ever looks at these things. Rarely do I even heed the messages or promos so urgently - and colorfully - on display in its metal frame. The extent of my relationship with the countertop sign is that I happen to punch it at least ten times a day in vain attempts to serve my customers in a swift, graceful manner.

So there is wallet-size Leona, smiling her giant pearly whites at all the customers from her countertop perch - looking especially pretty in her scooped-neck navy blue top, which, I should note, perfectly accentuates her gargantuan breasts, voluptuous and perky as the day is long.

When Yuppie Bitch first cast her eyes on Leona, I thought I noticed a moment of recognition. Maybe Leona was her miserable offspring's teacher, I thought. You can imagine my shock when Yuppie Bitch's naturally sour face contorted into a look of uncomfortable concern.

"This woman who works here," she whispered in a suddenly humane way, "Is she a breast cancer survivor?"

I burst out laughing when I noticed that Leona and her tig-o-bitties were propped into the pink register sign that was advertising Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

"No," I said, chuckling at this accidental juxtaposition. "She's a teacher - she dropped off her picture earlier."

Apparently unamused, Yuppie Bitch grabbed her purse and her miserable offspring and stormed away in motions of deliberate offense. Oh no, did I cause your shriveled heart to beat a little faster for a moment there? Was this not the inspiring coffee experience you were expecting?

I could only laugh out of blatant disgust. Not because I am insensitive to cancer of any kind, but because I am amazed at what innocence offends people these days. I realize that Y.B. may have lost someone to breast cancer, or perhaps she battled with it herself. However, she reacted to me as though I saw her coming and set her up to unnecessarily emote.

In today's world of political correctness, and the over-sensitivity of Americans in general, I am continuously amazed that anybody can take life so seriously. I would go insane in a week if I let half the things that could offend me, offend me.

I work in a place that insults me at every turn. I serve people whose lifestyles and narrow minds rarely escape the gated confines of their country clubs. I serve mascara-ed 12-year-olds with hundred dollar bills. I babysit the toddlers of negligent moms, too caught up in vanilla lattes and town gossip to notice their children running amok and growing into shallow shit stains like themselves. Lest we forget, I cheerily provide a service to people with Dubya bumper stickers.

Yet I still find the humor in every day. I can't dwell on the disheartening nature of the demographic I serve - a group of people who are, by society's standards, considered "normal" when, in reality, they mostly lack any sort of genuine, grounded perception of life. Their lives are desired, sought after, envied. They are what most of us blue-collars aspire to be. The world revolves around targeting them and getting their business. They are monetarily powerful, but rarely moralistically so. The hierarchy of power embraces money before values and good nature, allowing for the financially privileged to think their shit don't stink. And my place of employment prevents me from telling them otherwise.

It is with great offense that I am forced to act friendly to this haughty cluster of disillusioned people. Even before Yuppie Bitch was so wholly taken aback by Leona's lack of cancer, she had already gotten in at least 60 seconds of pure condescension to me, the lowly service worker. My smile was never broken despite her unwavering nasty attitude.

Allow me to provide a little life perspective for those out there privileged enough to never slave in the underpaid world of customer service: Don't be a douche to those preparing products for you to put in your mouth. I'm not suggesting anything here, nor implying that I would personally doctor a drink depending on the degree of asshole ordering it. I am merely offering some hearty advice from a person who has seen it all and still manages to laugh at life's little offenses.

Maude Perkins is The Beachwood Reporter's pseudononymous service industry affairs editor currently serving time as a store supervisor for a large, publicly-held corporate coffee chain. Read more Barista! here.




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Posted on November 1, 2006


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - Corporate Spies Like Us.
SPORTS - Why Was This Game Even Scheduled?

BOOKS - Postdictatorship Argentina.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Public Lands Matter.


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