It’s amazing what kind of access you can get to the rich n’ famous when you are an anonymous coffee girl, like myself. And just like the rest of us, celebrities get thirsty...but they likely need more caffeine than the rest of us. Unfortunately, even a busy line, a clever nickname and disguise just can't fool us baristas!
My non-service industry friends think my borderline-Scrooge outlook on the holiday season is just downright depressing. It's not that I hate Christmas...it's just that I do not in any way relate to the merry, smug happiness that I see replayed every year in festive movies, extra cheery advertisements, and the colourful invitations of parties I cannot attend. While you are getting ready to celebrate, I just got a few more shifts that need to be covered.
I exhaled the illusion of toxic smoke from my lungs. I jumped, peering over my shoulder, as though someone was creeping up on me. Startling myself, I pulled out my phone, turning it over and over in my hands, not thinking anymore…
I texted Jian.
Chances are if you drink soy, you don’t really need soy (or almond, rice, cashew, etc, etc) milk. Or at least not in a biological, I’m-super-allergic-to-dairy sense. Psychologically, paranoidly-speaking sense then, yes, you do need it. Not only do you crave soy, your daily fancy, custom-made, self-designed, Barista-made-for-your-convenience-drink, and lifestyle demand it.
So many people pass through my doors that even as charming as I’m sure you are(n’t), it’s inhumanly impossible, yes, even for Coffee Girl, to remember your face, name and drink…especially at rush hours. I don’t have Alzeimer’s yet, so if I’ve served you I most likely have at least your drink imprinted in my endless database of beverages, but I may not remember the rest of you. On good days, I will know (or ask) your name…but on busy days, forget it!
When I’m out, about and away from the crazy store floor, I pass people I recognize or who recognize me and then I often experience a situation I’m sure you’ve felt before: The “How Do I know You Again?” We all know that these scenarios can be confusing, embarrassing…not to mention: AWKWARD!…and involves lots of intense brain wracking, which even the cunningest calculus student couldn’t calculate. But I’m going to attempt to dissect them right here:
THE ”HOW DO I KNOW YOU AGAIN?” SCENARIOS : (solutions to getting out of an awkward social situation without seeming too silly)
- “She looks really familiar; she’s either that famous comedian, that annoying broadcaster…or my gynecologist?!”
In other words, you recognize someone but can’t remember where/how you know her from, or even if you’ve actually met in real life. So, if you haven’t established eye-contact yet, don’t. Wait. Continue your activity. Do not try to attempt the mental math of the remembering game. Think about adventurous sex or ballroom dancing…and the answer will come on it’s own, without embarrassment.
In my case, the lady turned out to be, not a famous icon or physician, but my high school guidance counsellor! I’m glad I didn’t show case how clueless I was…and that her childhood guidance turned me into a Barista.
- “We’re staring right at each other…but he’s totally blowing me off!”
Okay, so you’ve made eye-contact with someone you’re sure you know…somehow (he may even be somewhat attractive). But he’s acknowledging you with a stoney star of nonchalance, aka he’s being the stone angel. Instead of feeling angry or insulted, take back the power by being confident, aloof and giving a mysterious smile. Don’t be sheepish. Don’t walk away. Accept. Acknowledge. And act aloof. Make him apologetic.
In my case, I remembered later that this too-cool dude had been one of those hipsters who had been disgruntled that I’d put foam on his latte! The next time he came into the store, he was friendly and said he’d seen me in the street. And even apologized for being a finicky-foam-hater the previous time! See, it paid to stand my ground!
- “Gaah! She knows my name, my fave movie and my dog…but all I wanna call her is Betty, Barbara…or Butterface!!!”
So she not only recognizes you, she knows you. And you know nothing about her except that you know nothing. So, just briefly go with flow. If you get stuck in a hole don’t be pretentious, be honest: turn the attention by asking genuine questions about her. Don’t panic but take a deep breath and make an excuse to leave. Maybe you’ll get a sudden brain wave!
In my case, customers recognize me all around town and I either don’t remember them at all…or wanna call them “Non-Fat/No-Foam in Mom-Jeans-Form” (which is socially unacceptable). The truth will always come out, so relax, enjoy the ride and have fun!
- “Oh my! We have been randomly smiling at each other for what feels like ever…but no one is breaking the ice. I am frozen!”
At least you’re both smiling! Holding eye contact for more then 1 second either means a) good chemistry b) you’ve met before c) eye disease. If it’s either a) or b) then what are you waiting for?! Go for it. Say hi and be honest. Don’t be a regretful stick in the mud! Either you know each other from the past and this is your chance to reconnect…or you’ve found a potential romance. Relationships (friendship or love) are always better if there’s a common interest or past experience.
In my case, this cute girl and I locked eyes. We smiled and stared for eternal seconds. I finally walked over and admitted she looked familiar but I wasn’t even sure: “maybe you bought a coffee from me once?” She said “Doubtful, I don’t drink the stuff”. Oops. We spent a a flirty Friday afternoon figuring it all out: she’d seen me racing through a red light on my bike, and I had been frantically yelling at her to clear the intersection!
- “That girl is probably looking at him, not me. I’ll just shrivel up in my cocoon now”.
Don’t hide. You never know, you could be the one being scouted out and you want to be found looking carefree and confident!
In my case, I was out at a concert with a friend (a TV star), when a pretty girl was making eyes at us from across the room. I was trying to disentangle myself from the situation: this girl obviously wanted to talk to my talented friend and get an autograph. As I was backing up (more like tripping) out of the way, the girl ran over excitedly and shrieked: “OMG! I totally know you: you’re my favourite barista! You make the best drinks ever! You’re so funny too! What’s your name again?!” My friend and I both blushed scarlet…though I was actually beaming with pride. Now I always carry a pen with me…just in case.
So unless you are a big tipper or a tricky b*tch, I may not remember everything about you. But if we ever make eyes, definitely come up and put me in my place. Don’t be a stranger, be a risk taker! I’m just your lowly Barista after all (no pictures please!).