Posts Tagged ‘ pdx life ’

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.


Inspiration vs. Discouragement.

Lately I’ve been re-reading the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. I figured it’s about time, since I haven’t gone galavanting around the galaxy with Arthur and Ford since high school.

Douglas Adams is one of my favorite authors. His way of looking at the world is so pessimistically original that it resonates with my very soul, and every carefully constructed concept is seasoned heavily with his very particular sense of humor.

I find his style very inspiring, and if I could be ten percent as brilliant, clever and funny as Douglas Adams I’d be totally happy with my life.

Whenever I’m exposing myself to something I find inspiring, however, whether it’s words or art or music or anything at all, I can only absorb and consume so much before I stop being inspired and start being discouraged.

It’s like I have a inspiration quota, and anything that overflows the inspiration tanks goes immediately into the discouragement tanks.

Through the first half of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I thought “Wow, this guy is brilliant, I should read all of his stuff.”

Slowly though as I’ve read more and more of his work, my thoughts have evolved from admiration and aspiration to that level of brilliance to “Douglas Adams is so much more awesome than I could ever hope to be. Why should I even try?”

That’s the point at which I put down the book and go do something else with my life.

Unfortunately though this is my relationship with so many things– Music and the Internet in particular. If I spend a short amount of time online looking at art and then get offline, I’m much more likely to then spend time creating things than if I stay and continue seeking inspiration. (Which is part of the reason I’ve been so bad about blogging regularly lately; I’ve been seeking inspiration on the internet which is almost always like chasing after the wind.)

The same thing also goes for my newly-renewed fitness goals. I have to very consciously set my goals small, because if I dream too big I’ll only end up being disappointed in myself. The story has to go “I’ll make it to the top of this hill,” or “I’ll just do a few more,” instead of “I’m going to run a marathon this summer,” or “I have to do fifty.”

I’m trying to learn how to recognize my inspiration quota so I spend more time creating and being and doing and less time wishing I were better at creating and being and doing.

That’s all.

My Rocky Relationship with Umbrellas

Nearly Exactly a year ago, I wrote my first blog about life in Portland.

That was before I moved here, and I thought it was peculiar how Eastsiders rubbernecked my vividly red umbrella on New Year’s Eve.

Later in 2012, after my exodus from Redmond to Portland, I observed how much more common umbrellas are on the west side of the river than the east side.

As the year progressed, I grew to understand the impracticality of umbrellas. My bright red umbrella hasn’t been utilized for its intended purpose in a very long time.

A few weeks ago, as I walked down Hawthorne blvd to go to work, I got caught in a pedestrian traffic jam.

A tourist with an oversized umbrella was gazing in a shop window at a display of furniture and knick-knacks. I moved to go around her when she suddenly stepped backward from the shop window, stabbing me in the face with the spines of her deadly umbrella.

“Ouch!” I commented, somewhat loudly. While I paused to assess facial damage, umbrella tourist moseyed off down the sidewalk, blissfully unaware of the pain she had inflicted upon me. Other neighborhood residents were rudely ushered out of her way by her large spiky instrument of rain repelling and death.

The worst part is that this is not an isolated incident in my life, or that neighborhood.

Therefore, I have drawn up some great diagrams as to why umbrellas are stupid and you should invest in a nice rain jacket instead.

umbrella space

As you can see, an umbrella user takes up significantly more space on the planet than the wearer of simple, streamlined, effective rain gear. This isn’t a problem unless the sidewalks are crowded, in which case any non-umbrella users are at the mercy of the spikes of the umbrella users.

Also, umbrellas are only effective in zero MPH winds. As soon as even a little breeze springs up, umbrella carriers are at the mercy of the precipitation.

umbrella efficacy

umbrella, sans efficacy

How unfortunate.

Luckily there is an extremely practical alternative to umbrellas– to reach maximum dryness quotient, try a rain jacket!

rain jacket ftw

The Purple Man

I work in a very strange area. The part of town my primary employment is in is the hip part of town, and it’s Portland, so the hipper one is the weirder one must strive to be (apparently.)

My co-workers lovingly refer to it as the Hawthorne Freak Show.

For the most part, I like it. Anyone who is so into being weird that they make me seem like a mature, together, and reasonable human is all right in my book.

Occasionally, though, I meet a real winner. Last night was one of those times.

Close to closing time, around 9:45, I was talking to a regular about the benefits of listening to music on vinyl versus digital, and someone going by the window caught my eye.

Normally, I wouldn’t give a human male wearing basketball shorts and shoes a second look. But this male was engulfed from head to toe in a vivid purple unitard, complete with facial coverage.

Since I assumed he was simply a hipster who fancied himself a performance artist, I quashed my instinct to get the security guy Tyson when he waltzed into the shop and sat down across from a customer, who looked rather frightened as she asked “Do I know you?” He simply shook his head, stood up, and walked over to the next customers. They were a middle aged couple who found him to be quite droll, and their laughter assured me they were not disturbed.

Then, since he apparently got tired of not talking to the laughing couple and there were no more customers in that direction, he walked over to me, placing his elbow on the counter and his chin in his hand.

“Hi,” I greeted him, pretending not to notice his lack of speaking and severe purpleness, “How’s it going?”

He gave a thumbs up, and then pointed at me, apparently asking the same question. “I’m doing all right,” I responded, “Is there anything I can make for you?”

When he shook his head and continued to stare at me (I guess since his face was pointed at me,) I went on “Okay, well, I’m closing up in a few minutes. Just so you know.”

He nodded, and turned to leave, waving at the still-giggling couple as he left.

Somebody’s parents couldn’t afford mime school…

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