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My Everyday Cast of Characters

February 16, 2010

Every coffeeshop has its regulars. And every regular has his or her idiosyncrasies. What you regulars don’t know is that every barista has a nickname for you. If the nickname doesn’t involve your regular drink (“You know sugar-free hazelnut latte lady?”), it highlights your idiosyncrasy. Let me give you some of my favorite examples.

  • Suburban Barbie — Everything you’d imagine that moniker would encompass (also known as Blondilocks, depending on which barista you ask).
  • Sushi Gangster — Jet Li better watch his shit.
  • Tom Cruise — Post-Katie Holmes, pre-couch jumping, he has teeth that will never stain.
  • 90’s Guy — Probably going to burst into a Sugar Ray song at any moment
  • Mario Batali in a Sweatervest — Ponytail is included.
  • Leprechaun/Troll/Gremlin — His voice sounds like he’s ordering caramel lattes from under a bridge.
  • Mr. Personality — I make it my daily mission to see if I can make him smile. I fail 100% of the time.
  • Marty — I totally thought that was his real name for MONTHS. It’s not. He’s better off as a Marty, though.
  • Clark Kent — This guy’s a dead ringer for Superman.
  • The Nutty Professors — Who cares what their real jobs are? I know their true calling.
  • Ricky Gervais the Woman-Hater — He is known to tell sexist and violent jokes before 7am.

It’s pretty obvious that my coffee shop is one giant sausage fest 90% of the time. What I’ve learned from working there is that when you grow up, it’s the husbands that get to fraternize, drink coffee, and flirt with the snarky baristas while the wives are home with the kids.

Yes, I’m in the “snarky barista” category. You have to have a thick hide in order to do what I do.ย  When Ricky Gervais the Woman-Hater tells another off-color joke, the nice barista will laugh politely. The snarky barista will exclaim loudly, “Wellllll, nothin’ like a hot cup of sexual harrassment to start your day!!” Surprisingly, it seems it’s the snarky baristas who take home more tips. The silver foxes love a little attitude. The geriatrics love it more. (Fact: Today we were told by a favorite octagenarian, “We are all just a little sweet on you ladies.” Awww…)

The truth is, baristas LOVE the regulars, especially the ones we give ridiculous nicknames to. (Ricky Gervais the Woman-Hater is excluded.) Unless you’re a total prick (see: Ricky), we love getting to know your stories and filling in the blanks on our own. (Oh, the tapestry of small suburban tales we weave!) Seeing our regulars gives us something to look forward to or something to talk about when they’re missing. (“So, do you think the no-foam soy latte lady found a less foamy soy latte somewhere else?”) I can tell you for a fact, working in my coffeeshop has made me feel more connected to a community than I ever have before.

There are moments I despise my job. (Ask me how I’m doing when I’m drowning in a lunch rush.) But there are moments that I wouldn’t change for anything. And that’s when Alan tells me about dancing in Tahiti or when Maggie lets me know her furnace is finally fixed or when Bob lets me know how his dental appointment went.ย  It sounds silly, but I genuinely like hearing about all these people’s lives. As their friendly neighborhood barista, I feel like I’m a part of it in some little way.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. hilarybarnett permalink
    February 16, 2010 6:12 pm

    I love this! I am seriously considering becoming a barista part-time, simply because I love talking to people! I know they can be rude and insane at times as you mentioned, but hearing this makes me feel like it would be a great job to have. Thanks for sharing!

  2. February 16, 2010 7:37 pm

    I genuinely love my baristas. They seriously make my day by remembering my order and my name, and I go every day before work, half for the coffee and half for the smiles.

  3. February 16, 2010 9:39 pm

    I worked at McDonalds for a few years and I loved learning about the regulars and definitely filling in the blanks of their lives. There was this one guy who always came in a crazy rusty car and he had a deformed face. A lot of people were scared of him but he was the SWEETEST old man I’ve ever met. I never found out what happened to him in the past, but he brightened my day whenever he came through!

  4. February 16, 2010 10:42 pm

    This post makes me so happy because I know those people you are talking about. And I don’t work in a coffee shop. (Maybe I should, though?)

    Thanks for sharing this, lovely! It brought a smile to my face tonight.

  5. February 16, 2010 10:48 pm

    Seriously. You make me want to work in a coffee shop.

  6. February 16, 2010 11:08 pm

    I love the various people at my coffee shop. Its always filled with the most interesting people.

  7. February 17, 2010 12:40 pm

    Oh I hope you’re swimming more than sinking over there, it sounds a little rough! But the characters really do make the work fun (even if they’re strong personalities) and bantering with them? It sounds like you’re speaking their language. =)

  8. February 18, 2010 10:26 am

    The older gentlemen really do love sass! I have noticed that myself with our regulars.

    We have a guy who we never even bothered to name because he’s just so arrogant. He’s the kind of person who will say to his kid in front of all the baristas “We need to get you to school so you don’t grow up and have to work here.”

    Can you believe that shit?

    Anyway. It’s gratifying to know that baristas everywhere deal with shittastic customers like that. It’s not just because I’m at a corporate chain….

  9. February 18, 2010 9:06 pm

    I work in retail, and since we’ve only been open four months we’re just now getting regulars – but the nick naming has already started.
    My absolute favorite (sarcasm) is a customer known simply as Jesus Lady. I spent around an hour on Christmas eve on the phone with her, trying to walk her through setting up a email account so she could use our online photo service.
    She wanted her email to be jesus@yahoo.com.

  10. February 19, 2010 12:16 am

    This is exactly how I was when I worked at Williams Sonoma. You might not think that a retail store would have regulars, but, man. The freaks who came in every single day for free samples of food? The woman who let her dog shit on the floor? I could go on and on.

  11. February 19, 2010 11:06 am

    Haha, I love this. I worked retail in a small local shop for 6 years so I know how you feel. I became “friends” with a lot of the regulars. It’s fun knowing who you are conversing with. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. February 19, 2010 3:05 pm

    I’d be the one who always orders hot chocolate because coffee = grown up and I don’t want to be one of those.

    I need to start drinking tea I think.

  13. February 20, 2010 12:07 am

    I love these classifications! I’ve never worked in a coffee place, obviously, but when I was in HR, I had all kinds of nicknames for the more ridiculous employees.

  14. February 20, 2010 10:37 pm

    I wonder what my nickname would be; I don’t frequent a coffee shop all that much.
    I think my favorite one was the Tom Cruise pre-Katie Holmes.
    And the Sugar Ray guy ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. February 23, 2010 9:06 am

    Great. Now you’ve got me wishing that I was a regular at some coffee shopt. I brew my own coffee coz I’m poor …

  16. Michele permalink
    February 25, 2010 5:31 pm

    Holy Shit! It’s like we work at the same place!! Oh, wait……..WE DO! This is the reason you’re my favorite coffee serving & attitude dishing super hero.

  17. February 26, 2010 8:31 am

    I worked at a market in palm beach during high school and college…I used to make up stories for a lot of my customers. I just ca me across your blog from Nora’s and I’m looking forward to reading more of it. By the way – have you ever listened to a whole Sugar Ray CD?

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