THE MUNDANE HORROR OF PRE-COFFEE BARISTA BANTER

You see it on T-shirts. On coffee mugs. On one-panel cartoons that have been thumbtacked to your co-worker’s cubicle for the better part of a decade.

Don’t even talk to me until I’ve had my coffee.

It’s a thing. It’s a known social quantity. Especially in the Northwest, where the (noticeably lessening) grey and gloom facilitates a need for coffee. Especially in Seattle, where said gloom collides with an increasingly busy city and pace of life. Coffee is necessary for many to function, to form words, form sentences. Complete strangers, whom I’ve barely met in official capacities, will use the lack of coffee to justify whatever they need.

Oh, I didn’t mean to just cut in line. Haven’t had my coffee.

There’s probably some misspellings here. Haven’t had my coffee.

Sorry about burning down the hospital. Coffee. Haven’t. Had. Hold this matchbook.

So when I’m standing in line at one of my favorite places to achieve caffeine, one of the worst, most social anxiousness triggering feelings is when the barista’s small talk exceeds “what are you having” and maybe “how’s your day.” But when there’s a joke, or some kind of “banter,” I stammer. I mumble. I rub my eyes like a four year old who needs a nap. The back of my mind is screaming:

WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME THE VERY NATURE OF OUR RELATIONSHIP DICTATES THAT I HAVE NOT HAD MY COFFEE AND. . . YOU . . . ARE  . . . TALKING TO ME. DON’T EVEN!

This isn’t exactly fair; my sleep schedule is such that unless  you know that I work nights, it’d be safe to assume this is my second coffee of the day. Third, maybe. It’s late-morning to mid-afternoon, depending how late my shift was.

Of course, being on the other side of such customer service interactions I know this is a double edged sword; they DON’T talk to you, they get a complaint, someone yelps about “snooty” service, etc. Still, trying to come up with something vaguely optimistic, clever, or simple syllables in this context gets my day off to a bad start.

Part of this is also due to the pressure  I put on myself to be “interesting.” Or a good customer in some abstract “I hope my service industry professional likes  me” sort of way. Which is a futile endeavor.

I don’t have a solution to this problem,  save for maybe a pre-coffee coffee, or having people fill out espresso order cards  a la old school sandwich shops, but not sure either of those scan.

Who knows. I still haven’t had my coffee.

 


Also published on Medium.