Posts Tagged ‘ common sense ’

Things your Barista is Not.

It has come to my attention that the general public is not quite sure what is in my job description as a barista. To help you, I have compiled this list of Things that Your Barista is Not.

Latte art

Your Barista is Not a Psychic.

You, the customer, must tell me, the barista, what you want. Staring at me as you hold your money out is insufficient. So is telling your friend what you want as you walk into my cafe. Throwing your money on the counter and mumbling “the usual” will not get you what you want if we have never seen each other before.  Expecting me to read your mind will simply result in an awkward conversation and annoyance arising between us.

I might joke about how I went to wizarding school to learn latte art, but reading your mind just wasn’t a part of the training. Sorry. (Not really.)

Your Barista is Not Your Therapist.

Honestly, you can talk to me. We can joke around and be friends, and maybe even have real proper conversations every once in a while. But the moment I start to feel like your therapist is the moment I tune you out, and if it’s ongoing I will probably complain about you later to my fellow coffee people (who are also not your therapist.) I understand if you’re unhappy because of a death in the family, a failing marriage, an argument, or whatever, but really, I don’t get paid enough to be your therapist. Let the coffee be your therapy.

Your Coffee Shop is Not a Dating Service.

Any barista who’s been playing the game for a while can sense the stench of desperation from across the cafe. Feeble attempts like five dollar bill hearts as a tip, “We should text sometime,” or using Harry Potter as a point of mutual interest– all true stories– These might be fine strategies in a normal context (not that I recommend giving five dollar bill hearts to anyone ever,) but in the cafe context they’re just pathetic and inappropriate.

When I’m at work, I’m not on the prowl. That’s all. My job might be more fun than yours, but I’m still getting paid minimum wage plus tips to even talk to you right now, and if you’re the kind of person who’s going to hit on your baristas, I’d never talk to you outside of when I’m getting paid. Please keep that in mind.

Myself, when/if I find you, a customer, an interesting enough person that I want to spend time with you in a normal, outside-of-work context, I will let you know.

Your Barista IS a Fellow Human Being.

As a fellow human being, your baristas deserve the simple courtesy of eye contact and a greeting. I don’t demand conversation, friendliness, joking, or whatever. But it is not that difficult for you to be moderately polite, and it improves my day immensely.

And if you tip, well, now we’re friends.


Things I learned in 2012.

When I was drafting this blog, I was laughing internally because in comparison, the one I wrote for 2011 was so short. It amuses me that 2011 felt like I grew so much, but 2012 was so much more.

So because this list is so long, I’m going to subdivide it into months.


  • Saying goodbye isn’t the hardest thing– living without is.
  • Moving to the Willamette valley in January is a terrible idea. It’s the crappiest weather of the year.


  • Crappy jobs still pay rent.
  • Rich people aren’t good tippers. Actually, rich people are the worst tippers.
  • Getting thoroughly lost can be the best way to learn about a city’s geography.


  • Sometimes the only way to stay sane is to tune out.
  • If you’re willing to be surprised, a good friend can come from anywhere.


  • Unemployment is only scary when it stops feeling like a vacation.
  • Twenty is a surprisingly bummer age to turn. Suddenly adulthood feels like a burden


  • Aim high, be prepared to score low, and you may be pleasantly surprised.


  • Summer in Portland is perfect. 
  • Living in a main street in Portland during the summer… Not so much.


  • Nothing is certain, not even your life.
  • Getting prodded by medical folk gets easier the more it happens. Same with throwing up.
  • Dulaudid is one hell of a drug.
  • Recovery is the hardest part– waiting and wanting to be back to normal, but still sick.
  • In spite of the soap opera-y parts, Friends is an awesome show.
  • Staying hydrated is so much more important than I ever thought. Drink water, people!


  • Bicycling through Portland at night in the summer is amazing.
  • Doctor Who is one of the best TV shows of ALL TIME.
  • Life goes back to normal really easily, even when you’re changed forever and there’s constant turmoil in your brain.


  • Empathy is not a strong trait of mine, except where my sisters are concerned.
  • Every wedding should have dancing. (and dancers.)


  • Important decisions can be delayed.
  • I’m freaking awesome at parallel parking.


  • People who skype in coffee shops make me nervous.
  • Shutting up and listening is important.


  • Feeling rich is still a major fault of mine.
  • Handmade Christmas presents are the best!
  • Distance hasn’t made me love Central Oregon and my people there any less, and time hasn’t made me miss them any less.
  • Even though 2012 was a really tough year, it was a really good year– and it was really important.

And yeah… Fart jokes are still funny.

With that said, I’m really looking forward to what 2013 will hold. I’m making plans to intentionally make it the best year ever.



Since I work in the service industry, I think a lot about customer service. Recently there was an article in Roast Magazine about customer service– I read it expecting a suave article full of tips and tricks, but what it boiled down to was very basic stuff that I learned in my first and second service-based jobs. It seemed too simple for Roast.

So I’ve been mulling over my personal philosophy on customer service. You’ve all heard that the customer is always right? I disagree. The customer may not always be right, but their needs always come first.

That, of course, applies to paying customers. If someone comes in, sits down, and comes back to me whining that the internet doesn’t work when they haven’t bought anything, my level of caring is at about zero percent.

In particular, a lot of baristas get into a rut of thinking that customers are idiots, because they aren’t trained in coffee. While this may be right in some cases (oh, the stories I could tell you,) it doesn’t make it okay to treat paying customers like they’re dumb. They just haven’t learned things yet, and you have the opportunity to teach them. I touched on this in a blog several months ago, and I stand by what I said then. Baristas, don’t condescend, and customers, don’t be rude.

However, there is one thing I feel like you all need to know about my job. When I greet a customer, I set a pleasant tone to the conversation. You, with your response, then set the tone for the entire interaction. If you’re rude to me after I’ve been nice to you, it’s going to be very, very difficult for me to be any more than polite.

That’s what I’ve been thinking about today. Hope you all had great Thanksgivings!

Fish out of Water, or the Lost Bethany Chronicles.

I admit right now, I’ve been putting off writing this blog for about the last three weeks. I wanted to wait until interesting things happened to me after the move before I wrote.

Well, interesting things have certainly happened.

The first thing that happened to me when  I moved to Portland was a raging ear infection, which led to a ruptured ear drum and temporary hearing loss. Literally the first thing that happened to me. Not even exaggerating.

So if day 1 was moving in, day 1 also consisted of a fever and overwhelming ear pain. Day 2 consisted of growing ear pain, a runny ear, and finally visits first to urgent care and then to the emergency room, where the doctor was a buttface mcStinker.

Anyway, I received antibiotics and eventually got better.

My next grand adventure involved Trimet, Portland’s bus system.

Trimet does have a trip planner on their website, and Google maps is helpful. But even the map isn’t all that  helpful when it looks something like this.

So anyway, the first time I decided to ride the bus into town to my sister’s house, it was quite the adventure. Since  I’m out in Lake Oswego, there is a limited number of bus stops within reasonable walking distance of me.

First, I couldn’t find my stop. I attempted to follow my faulty GPS, but it led me asunder–  I ended up scrambling down the side of a hill to a trail I spotted underneath a bridge. It was, at best, sketchy. However, the trail led me into a pleasant park, wherein I discovered that I was farther than ever from my destination.  After walking at least three miles out of my way, I finally made it to my stop, which was, as it so happened, only about a ten minute walk away from my house. I was not full of joy.

The bus arrived about 20 minutes after  I did, and I boarded, relieved. “The hardest part is over,” I thought. I deposited my handful of change into the thingy. The bus lurched away from the stop while I cleared a jam of quarters, and I nearly lost my footing. Seizing a bright yellow bar, I managed to not fall over, and haphazardly made my way toward the back of the bus.

At the front and top was an LED sign accompanied by a computerized voice announcing upcoming stops. I put away my phone, confident that I would hear my stop when it approached.

I rode for a while, observing people come and go with greater frequency as we approached Portland State University. I looked around as we went through downtown. I finally realized as we drove away from downtown and into an area that seemed oddly industrial that not only had I missed my stop, but I missed the entire area where I was meant to disembark and transfer buses.

Seized by uncertainty, I sat.

I rode around for another 45 minutes, waiting until we got to a decent-looking residential area before I got off the bus. I googled quickly as I walked, attempting to find out which bus stop would take me back to Hawthorne.

I must have looked quite interesting to the people in the yards, enjoying the sunshine, as I power-walked by, glaring at my phone indignantly.

Finally I reached the stop that would take me where I wanted to be. I checked the stop ID– it was off by one digit. A bus was coming up on the other side of the street. I ran to the crosswalk and across the street, in front of the paused bus. Out of breath, I boarded, carelessly pulling dollars out of my wallet and inserting them into the cash thing.

I again aimed for the back of the bus. While I rode back, a couple behind me talked loudly about how they were about to go smoke a joint, a kid got yelled at by the bus driver for not having his fare ready to go, and a girl looked at me as if she thought I was a rapist.


Forty-five minutes later, I leapt off the bus as the intercom announced Hawthorne avenue. Not wanting to bother with another bus, I walked the remaining distance to my sister’s house.

And that was just the first time I got lost.

This post ended up being longer than I anticipated, so coming Sunday– the Lost Bethany Chronicles, Part 2.

Logical Love

I have never been one prone to diving into romantic situations. Even if I do like a male person in a romantic fashion, I always weigh the pros and cons before I even let on to myself or anyone else that the case is so. Usually, I find that the cons outweigh the pros, and my brain subsequently kills the romantic interest in a cerebral smack-down of instinct.

This usually looks like my heart saying “Baaaawwwww we’re so ALOONNEE,” and I’ll tend to be sad for a little while, until my brain counters with “But you’re free! Independent! Autonomous! Besides, any male person who became a romantic possibility wouldn’t understand your need for space!” Then my heart goes “Wait. You’re right! I like being able to do whatever I want and not have to talk to or hang out with people unless I want to!” And that is how I kill crushes.


Depressing? Never!

This works for me because “Follow your heart,” has always sounded like a really stupid idea. Yesterday I compiled a list of all the things I would do if I followed my heart instead of my head:

  1. Jump off buildings.
  2. Tell people they’re retarded.
  3. Never apologize.
  4. Throw stuff at people when they annoyed me.
  5. Kiss pretty strangers.
  6. Did I mention I’d tell people how retarded they are?

Basically, my heart is crazy. CRAZY. And I’m pretty damn sure yours is no saner.

Follow your heart is the greatest, commonest modern love fallacy. Pride and Prejudice is considered one of the best books ever by so many people, and mostly because of its love story. Do people really think Liz Bennett dove right into chasing after Mr. Darcy just because her heart told her to? Not so much. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to remember her rejecting him because her brain told her how unhappy she’d be. It all worked out though, obviously. How our culture still loves this story in an age of hook-ups and one night stands is beyond me.

So, is the media to blame? Only in part. The media produces what the public wants to see, and if the public wants one more follow-your-heart rom-com then they give it to them. We are a generation, a culture even, of follow-your-hearters, and people who don’t are considered “not liberated” or something to that effect.

Allow me to expound more on how I manage to reconcile my Vulcanish brain beliefs with my very Human heart instincts.

First, let us assume for my purposes that Love is indeed a verb. Second, let us agree that Attraction/Infatuation is different than love. So, you meet someone who strikes your Attraction/Infatuation the first time you meet them. Please, don’t call it love at first sight! After you get to know said person, you find out that they have a trait that is really incompatible with you. So do you go ahead and pursue a relationship with them? If you’re a follow-your-hearter, you do. But unless you’re Jesus, which you’re not, listening to your instincts over your intellect hardly ever works out.

A born-and-raised Trekkie, I try to let Logic be my guide instead of Love, A.k.a. I listen to my brain over my heart, for one simple reason. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” says Jeremiah 17:9. I cannot even begin to tell you how many emotional scrapes I’ve narrowly avoided because I listened to the voice in my brain screaming “This doesn’t make sense! Your heart is retarded!”

In summation, Love CAN be a logical decision. If you think that listening to your head is for squares, well… Have fun with that broken heart. It seems to be great at leading the way.

Don’t listen to your heart. No matter how smart your brain is, your heart is really retarded. You’re the only person who can decide which to listen to.

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