the buX-files

working at bux you'll come across all sorts of customers: the regulars you like, the regulars that annoy, the lonely customers who want someone to talk to and the mean customers who want someone to bitch about. and of course we'll get a customer who will leave us baristas scratching our bux caps in confusion. they behave in such a crazy manner it's as if they're visiting us from another planet.

alien #1 -
a woman walked into my bux and went straight into the bathroom. she was there so long our other customers asked us to knock on the door encourage her to finish her business. when she finally emerged her hair was soaking wet and water was splashed all over the floor. she then came up to the counter and ordered a chamomile tea. she spotted the coffee cherry pin on my apron and mistook it for christmas holly.

"holly!" she pointed to my pin. "that's my clown name!"
"oh, uh, really?" i was being polite.
"yes, well first my clown name was 'flower' but i met another clown with that name so i changed it."
"here's your tea," i handed over the cup and began to help the person behind her.
"can i put milk in my tea?" she asked before i could finish taking the other customer's order.
"well, people don't normally put milk in herbal tea." i informed her. "but you can do whatever you'd like."

she walked over to the condiment bar and then came back just a couple minutes later.

"um, excuse me." she got my attention and showed me the curdled milk floating in her tea. "my husband is from england and he says you're not supposed to put milk in herbal tea."
"i'll get you a new tea." i told her.
"my husband grew up in england and he says you should never put milk in herbal tea." she continued. "are you listening? my husband is english and he wants to make sure you know that you're not supposed to put milk in herbal tea."
"no milk in herbal tea - got it." i gave her the new cup of tea and was thankful to see her walk out the door.

alien #2 -
one day i was changing the milk containers at the condiment bar. a customer came up to me and thanked me for putting new containers out.
"i'm so glad you're taking this other container away because it's contaminated." he told me.
"contaminated!" i was worried someone had licked the lip of the container - again.
"yes, i saw them go inside." he whispered.
"what went inside?"
"the microbes." he continued to whisper. "i saw them float inside. if someone drinks that milk the microbes will be inside them. it will be months before they even notice and by that time they will have infected their families and the people they work with."
"uh, well, no worries because i'm going to put this container in the sanitizer." i smiled and started to walk away.
"i knew you'd understand." he smiled at me before whispering again. "but be careful because the microbes are everywhere!"

barista rant: what makes you so special? why do you feel we need to drop everything we're doing just to get you some water? especially when there's a line of people who are actually going to pay for their beverage. don't get pissy with the register partner because he's in the middle of a transaction and can't get you your requested water. don't get mean with the barista because she hasn't expedited your free beverage and instead is making drinks for people who stood in line and PAID. if you're so desperate for water in a timely manner you should stay at home.


Tom said...

Reading your blog I realize that good writing is like good photography. The same thing could be happening in front of Walker Evans and some regular joe, the regular joe could even be holding a camera, but only Walker Evans would know that if he snapped his shutter at just the right moment the random thing happening in front of him would be turned into art.

Same with your two aliens. They were just random stuff there in front of you, but you knew what you had.

confused passionate customer said...

i love passion tea. now i always get it with lemonade and ask for half the sweetner. is the lemonade the sweetner syrup or is the lemonade a seperate thing. its the only thing i order from starbucks and i stole the love for it from my friend but was never sure how to ask for it correctly. if u could supply me with the lingo for this i would love it.

Ben Heller said...

I came to this site and now I'm covered in Microbes. Do something Barista !!

Do you have a sign outside your shop welcoming visitors from the planet Zog, or are drugs a major problem in your town ?

Tracy said...

Are you going to sit there, and tell me that you didn't KNOW about those microbes? Please! Bux is part of the CONSPIRACY to SPREAD those microbes everywhere!!!!

Sheesh.....you know...it's a MICRobe....as in TOO SMALL TO BE SEEN you flaming lunatic!

Peggy Archer said...

Yeesh. And here I thought the film industry had a corner on the 'crazy' market.

You have the patience of a saint!

Kiz said...

Um... the second one there has an actual medical condition. I believe it's a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, in that it's a preoccupation with contamination (did he actually use the word contaminated? If so, that's a clear sign).

Yeah, microbes are much too small to be seen, but in his mind he -did- see them. No worries in that you handled everything perfectly, brat, but I'd caution against anyone (like a newbie barista, e.g.) attempting to agitate him. K

mellowlee said...

uh uh, that's a special kind of crazy all right XD

Sling said...

Oh great...I'm pretty sure I just saw a microbe in my Jack Daniels latte.

Tracy said...

Oh trust me, it's a medical condition, but it sounds like quite a bit more than OCD going on there. Paranoid schiophrenia would be more likely.

OCD can be characterized by MANY things, and it does not necessarily have to be a preoccupation with contamination. Furthermore, just for the record, people with OCD are not commonly known to hallucinate, or be completely dillusional, they just tend to have irrational fears, preoccupations, and obsessive behaviors. They are generally aware of them, and don't generally try to inflict these fears upon others.

Brizzle said...

I really feel for alien #2 - I had a colleague with the same condition several years ago and her life was hell.

She was the best telesales person I've ever known, but she was terrified of 'particles' coming out of electronic equipment, including phones and computers, and 'infecting' her - which of course made her job very difficult. I couldn't even put a calculator on my desk in our shared office because it would cause her distress.

She started coming in late every morning during autumn, because she felt compelled to go around the tree-lined square and pick up *all* the fallen leaves to throw them in the trash, because the mess disturbed her so much.

She then started coming in to work with a knife - she had to, you see, because she *had* to scrape all the chewing gum off the sidewalks in the square. Her mood changed too: she became far more aggressive, to the point of violence. She went from slightly odd to dangerously unhinged in the space of a few months and I feared for my safety.

She eventually left when some builders opened up the basement of the 350-year-old building we worked in to do some construction work. She saw the dirt and grime of 350 years on the walls in the basement and ran out of the building in terror. We never saw her again.

Poor thing. I hope she's okay.

Beth said...

Oh, man, now I have to worry about microbes during my daily bux run?

Kiz said...

Re: Tracy, I could've sworn that there was a more specific name for this mental disorder, but couldn't find it. I said OCD since I was thinking of Howard Hughes (long hair, kleenex-box shoes, obsession with cleanliness and contamination).

But yeah, you're right, this type of disorder seems -much- closer to paranoid schizophrenia than OCD, on account of the hallucination and fear of "microbes". ...hopefully it's just mild, particularly if this fellow is a regular. K

Writeprocrastinator said...

"no milk in herbal tea - got it." i gave her the new cup of tea and was thankful to see her walk out the door."

First, you should've seen this coming. She's a clown, literally. My guess is that she's suffering from concussions from getting spritzered and pied so much.

"the microbes."

Second, this character sounds like a junkie or someone with OCD. Worse yet, probably a combination of the two. I think a few of your customers are getting so hyped on something, that they need coffee for a come down.

barista brat said...

tom - thanks!

confused passionate customer - there's nothing wrong with how you ask for your drink. the lemonade is slightly sweetened, but we do add classic syrup to the drink as well. if you're ordering a tall ask for a " tall one and a half pump classic passion tea lemonade". a grande is a "grande two pump classic passion tea lemonade" and if you want a venti it's a "venti three pump classic passion tea lemonade". hope this helps!

ben heller - haha, you've just become a breeding ground for microbes in england.

tracy - haha, there's always a bux connection in conspiracy theories!

peggy archer - i wouldn't be surprised if these two WERE in the film industry.

kiz - it's true, i do think he's a paranoid schizophrentic who goes on and off the meds. there's no use agitating him further by denying the existence of microbes and i'm happy to say that no barista i work with would ever do such a thing.

mellowlee - he also once told me that the buddhist community wanted him to become a homosexual.

sling - how many times have i told you? irish whiskey with your coffee - not american whisky!

brizzle - i feel for your friend. i hope she's found treatment.

beth - haha, in your case i think the microbes help you heal from falls and staple gun injuries.

writeprocrastinator - haha, i think you're right! bux is a downer for them.

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