“Oh. My. God. Why are baristas so miserable? Like, honestly, I just want my latte without their attitude. And they didn’t even serve organic!”
I’ve heard versions of those lines about how unhappy the baristas are. I used to wonder myself. Honestly, sometimes it’s a Coffee Nazi experience to order a cup of coffee in Seattle, especially if you’re not trained in the language of water over roasted beans.
But, how can baristas be so unhappy about serving happy juice?
I have spent hours and days in cafes pretending to work while scrolling the Facebook newsfeed on my Macbook Pro. It’s a prerequisite, you know, for sitting in a cafe. There, in between mercy-liking hundreds of posts, I paid attention to the busy baristas and their customers. Here’s what I saw:
Listen, it’s a difficult job being a barista. It’s a service job. Have you ever had a frontline service job that requires direct contact with the raw humans of the general public? If not, know that not everyone in the public is capable of crafting a viral, tear-jerking paragraph about their story for Humans of New York. As a service industry pro serving the most desired of all beverages, you must serve all.
Baristas are drug dealers to grandmas, moms, dads and children of all ages. They deal delicious aromatic speed with notes of chocolate, honey, and caramel. One might think that’s an easy job.
People go to the barista for their daily dose of caffeine at the lowest point of their day. It’s that 7am dose of “I hate my life and this black fluid is the only thing keeping me sane in my hamster wheel existence.”
There the barista stands behind the counter with their hand held out ready to pick up their customers for their day. And instead of being viewed as a savior, they’re viewed as a servant.
Instead of Jesus, there’s Judas behind the counter ready to serve you a shot of death and see you off to your daily crucifixion.
“Yeah, uhhh, ummm, gimme a grande quad mocha with three pumps of fuck yourself.”
“Wonderful choice. Your name?”
“Oh, Jesus! Thanks for coming again! I hope you nail it today!”
“Make it quick, okay?”
And off goes the thankless customer. The barista is, the city’s real 12th man, is left to contemplate their existence in the nanoseconds between orders. Is the customer really the savior?
In what other drug-related business do customers treat their dealers with such disdain?
The alcohol business, of course, is run by our bar tender friends who work the gallows.
Tired from staring at an illuminated rectangle in a hunched-half-fetal-pose while hammering on plastic squares with their fingers all day, the carpal-tunnel-cross-carrying wage slaves make like a beaten Jesus to Yelp’s highest-rated watering hole ready to receive mental novocaine.
“Numb my memories, and nail my inhibitions to this shot of tequila, bar tender! NOW! Do you see this plastic square that I wave in my hand and my bloodshot stare? I have power over you. And I command thee to give me my drug!”
It’s the business of sin. Maybe if we had a little more empathy for the people who are serving us our drugs, and the other things that we put into our mouths that enter our body, our stomachs and our blood streams, the service industry would be a better place.
But that’s what slaves, em, service industry pros are. It’s biblical.
Do people need to have slaves to feel like they have control over their lives? Does exhibiting coercive control over a service industry professional for a moment in time, or keeping a domesticated animal as your emotional slave, make a person feel better?
Don’t get me wrong, those wage slaves that stroll into the bar are most likely fellow service-industry professionals already beaten down by the rich goose taking out their day of stifling passive aggression on their bar tender, or the heroine addicts looking for an indoor corner to pee on.
Be nice to your baristas and bar tenders. They’re your drug dealers after all.
If you are nice to them, and they’re Petulant Pacamaras in return, offer a smile then request a single origin espresso. If they don’t do that, leave.
As for alcohol, I recommend scaling back to an uncomfortable level of sobriety.
You will be better for it. I promise.
Love and coffee,