Tuesday, September 12, 2006

chaos and happiness at work

[unrelated and terribly nerdy note: I love the word chaos. Not so much the meaning, but the word itself, the actual sound. Doesn't it have a lovely, clean pronunciation? All versions of it are nice. Chaotic feels just as lovely.]

Tonight was the first time at this job that I really had a shitty time. Something weird must have been in the air, because all of our customers were totally freaking nuts tonight! We were busy as hell, which is a good thing. But they were all insane and all had totally bizarre drink requests, which put us all off our rhythm and made everything feel out of order.

My current least favorite customer came in today not once, but twice. She is this incredibly unpleasant woman who always orders an iced venti caramel macchiato with extra caramel. And I don't mean just a few extra squirts. She wants us to open the bottle and pour half of it into her cup. If you don't do that or if you try to charge her for all that extra caramel, she gets pissy and loud. So we just always give it to her. She came in today around 2 and got her usual and then left. But later, around 6, I was on a break and running out to my car to get something and she had just pulled up to the curb, where she got out of her car and started yelling at me--right there on the street--about how there wasn't enough caramel in her drink earlier and blah blah blah. So of course because we're pushovers, we made her another one. I honestly poured half the damn bottle of freaking caramel into her cup, but I was squeezing so hard that the lid popped right off and landed in her drink and the syrup went everywhere, which of course meant re-making the damn drink. Again. With five other customers behind her waiting for their drinks. The ridiculous thing about this woman is how adamantly she opposes anything slightly healthy. She gets this drink every single day (sometimes more than once; I've seen her at other stores getting this same drink, after she'd already been to my store for one). And it's not like she gets skim milk in it. This thing must have a million calories and god knows how much fat. Plus, she usually gets one for whichever of her young kids is with her when she comes in--and keep in mind that in an iced venti, there are three shots of espresso. Her kids must be unbearable after one of these things. Once, her son (who is maybe 8) was with her and wanted chocolate milk from our refrigerated case, and this woman made a disgusted face and said, "No, that's organic milk. That's gross! Get a caramel macchiato instead." I said, "You know, organic milk actually tastes just like regular milk only better. There's nothing gross about it" (I said this in a surprisingly polite, pro-social way). But she looked horrified and insisted her child instead get that enourmous caramel macchiato. I don't know if she imagined there'd be twigs or something floating around in organic milk, but she has some aversion to it. Or anything other than pure sugar and caffeine.

I dealt with another pet peeve tonight. Some lady came in and wanted to pay for a chai latte with a 100-dollar bill. Company policy says not to accept them, but if I know I have some 20s, I sometimes can work it out. However, today I had nothing larger than a five in my drawer, so I asked her nicely if she had anything smaller. And, as usual in this situation, she sighed heavily and looked completely shocked and annoyed. Then she said, "I get this all the time from businesses. Everywhere I go, they always tell me this. I can never pay with a hundred!" So, wouldn't the normal person get it through her or his skull to stop trying to be a pretentious asshole and start carrying reasonable bills, instead of the 100s?! She managed to produce a five dollar bill.

And then one of our employees didn't show up for her shift. When we called, she said she had forgotten but would be in soon. About five minutes later, she called back and said she didn't feel well and wouldn't be in at all. Grrr.

I don't know. Now that I'm writing all this down, none of it seems remarkably bad or even that annoying. I love my co-workers, which makes such an enormous difference and keeps everything tolerable and in perspective. But something about being in the middle of a shift, trying to make seven drinks at once, prep the store for closing, and deal with these other stupid annoyances made for an unpleasant evening at work.

HOWEVER. What is truly remarkable is that I still enjoyed myself. Even on an uncharacteristically shitty night there, I still love my job. Not once have I ever thought in the middle of a shift, "Christ, I hate this." Not once have I wanted to call in sick even when I wasn't sick. I've never wanted to run away from the place in the middle of a work day. I've never wished I'd get fired so I'd have an excuse to not come back the next day. That's the way I felt about my old job in publishing. Every damn day. Every morning was a struggle. I had to convince myself to go to work, and I had to talk myself into staying for the entire day. My best day there was hell compared to my worst day at this job. And what's even better is that next week I officially start my training to be promoted to shift supervisor. Other than its current geographic location, which I hate, this job is turning into everything I hoped and more. I'm happy when I'm at work. I'm good at it. Most of the customers are sweethearts. My co-workers are awesome. And when I come home from work, I can write or read or do whatever, because I'm not drained from a day of forcing myself to do shit I hate. I really am writing like crazy lately. I don't mean this blog; I mean real writing that I'm trying to turn into something interesting, something I might want to submit for possible publication soon. Strangely, I never had that drive or mental energy when I worked in publishing. I think it took getting out of my comfort zone in the sense that now I interact with dozens, sometimes hundreds of people each day--something that goes against my nature--which somehow triggers ideas and motivation to write. And I'm reading like a maniac these days, too, which is supremely important as a writer.

That said, I'm delighted to be off tomorrow. It's my last day off until a week from this Friday. I better make it a good one! I might venture over to the beach, since I haven't been there during the day since late May.

We shall see...


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