Jeff Smith 2 p.m., Dec. 12
I work for the largest corporate coffee chain in the world. I’m your smiling friendly cheery-eyed barista making triple grande two pump vanilla non-fat no foam 180° one and half raw sugar high-maintenance lattes for half the working staff of America. Real Estate Brokers, Lawyers, Dentists, Doctors, Police Officers, Teachers, Students and dogs all make their way through my doors. I interact with 250 people throughout an 8-½ hour shift five days a week. I know a third of these people’s names and favorite coffee beverage. Half of those I know how many kids they have, what they do for a living, the name of their dog or cat, what their favorite TV show is and the basic moral belief system that motivates them. I’ve worked at eight different stores, among varied environments and I can walk down the street and pick out people among the crowd by what they drink in my stores. I’ve made more Frappuccino blended beverages in five years than an entire team of giggling, screaming, crazy high school girls could consume in their entire lives. It takes three cows to produce enough milk for a single store for one day. Coffee is good. A great many people love coffee. Some people simply cannot start their day without their specially handcrafted cup o’ Joe. I know; I’ve seen you.
On my walk to work I know pretty much how the day will progress from start to finish. The stress levels that will be reached are familiar friends by now. The hectic speed and barely controlled chaos are as reliable as the sun rising. The masses await me as their slave/savior. I have what they need; caffeine and the ability to dress it up with whip cream and present it to them complete with a stylish jacket made of cardboard. I have control over their need and am in turn completely controlled by it. I must smile and be cheery. I must exude a sense of warmth that will make them come back even though we both know they will, no matter what. Some of them will come back regardless of how I behave. There are those that would rather me be rude and insincere. They love it the same way others enjoy watching pain and suffering in action packed thrillers. The body releases endorphins and adrenaline leading to excitement missing from normal boring lives. The feeling of danger coupled with comfortable confidence that there is no danger. Barista Applicable Skills: Create the environment of the customers choosing, i.e., dangerous, but not really. They see me as the object of their hate and they love me for it. I have intimate knowledge of coffee, and that single aspect of me that is clearly superior to them is more than they can handle. They’re better than me, and it’s their duty to make that absolutely clear via abuse. They almost quiver with excitement as they wait not so patiently in line. Ready to perceive me as a jerk so they can lash out and expel pent up aggression mixed with self-loathing. Release is what they need and I am an acceptable outlet. The symbol I wear alerting all to this fact is a green apron.