Like many people, I like to look at the start of a new year as a chance to better myself. I make grandiose plans to get healthy (I will never eat sugar again!) and exercise (I will run 42 miles every day!)
But after about ten minutes, reality sets in and I have to face facts. I would rather hit the snooze button on my alarm clock for an hour than pull my lazy ass out of bed and go jogging. I mean, if my alarm clock turned into a bear then I’d probably start running.
So exercise is out what about eating healthier foods? Surely that can’t be too hard. I already, for the most part, avoid red meat and dairy in my everyday diet. So, I decided to try a three day green smoothie cleanse. I like to start my day with a smoothie so I figured it would be easy to push through a few days and I’d emerge feeling leaner, healthier, and like one of those superhero vegans from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
I made it about eleven hours into the three day cleanse before quitting. I decided to bail on the cleanse due to a friend pointing out that hunger was making me a colossal pain in the ass and then Husband made the point that I was doing the cleanse to make myself happy and I was miserable, thereby defeating the purpose.
Even though I think both Husband and our friend were right, I still felt like a loser for failing at something as benign as a smoothie cleanse. But then it got me thinking about New Year’s resolutions; we all, or those of us that choose to partake, set goals for ourselves to make ourselves better, stronger, faster, happier. We’re going to quit doing this, start doing that, travel to such and such a place, earn/save x amount of money, etc.
The goal of these resolutions is based in the good intentions of bettering our selves and our lives. However, I think a lot of the time our goals are rooted in the arrival fallacy, which, according to Tal Ben-Shahar, is the belief that you will be happy once you reach a certain destination.
“I’ll be happy when I lose ten pounds.”
“I’ll be happy when I earn that promotion.”
“I’ll be happy when we move.”
“I’ll be happy when I get my next book published.”
“I’ll be happy when everyone finally freaking realizes I’m the Next Great American Writer and buys enough copies of my book to make them forget about 50 Shades of Grey.”
“I’ll be happy when I cleanse my body of gross toxins through a three day smoothie cleanse.”
Sound familiar? Granted, the last few were a bit specific, but you get the idea. We spend so much time fixating on the future that we allow ourselves to be unhappy now because we’re saving up all of our happiness points for the future.
Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, says that the fallacy aspect of the arrival fallacy is that arriving rarely makes you as happy as you expect. “Why? Because usually by the time you’ve arrived at your destination, you’re expecting to reach it, so it has already been incorporated into your happiness. You quickly become adjusted to the new state of affairs. And of course, arriving at one goal usually reveals a new goal. There’s another hill to climb.”
So where does this leave us? The start of a new year is a natural point to make a fresh start in various areas of our lives. Should we stop trying to improve our lives just because we might fall victim to the arrival fallacy? Of course not. Instead, I think we need to focus on enjoying the journey. Enjoying the present, however, feels like such a trite thing to say. How often are we inundated with advice to “live in the now,” “enjoy the moment,” and “realize that the present is called such because it’s a gift” or whatever else shows up in every volume of Chicken Soup for the Stupid?
I think what my point boils down to is that I think we need to stop being so hard on ourselves. Am I just trying to justify failing at my smoothie cleanse? Maybe. But I’ve decided to revise my New Year’s resolutions and I’m going to try to focus on actually enjoying my life. I still want to better myself but I’m not going to do it in ways that make me miserable. I don’t want to spend my life saving up happiness points and then find out later that I’m out of time with a stockpile I never cashed in. Recent events in my personal life have taught me that life and the plans you make can change from one breath to the next and frankly, I don’t want to waste any more time planning to be happy later. I figure I have a good chance of following my new resolution—provided I actually eat food.
Written by: Emily Regan
As I established in my last column, How to Drink Like a Writer, I do some work as a bartender to help pay my bills while I’m waiting for the publishing world to realize that I am the Next Great American Writer who will make them piles of money. Truth be told, I rather enjoy bartending. My days are free for writing, I like mixing drinks, and I enjoy getting to talk to the variety of people that visit the bar where I work. Granted, there usually isn’t much time for chit chat when I bartend on the weekends but during the week I get to meet some interesting people which I consider to be useful for writing. Exposing oneself to a variety of people and situations can only enhance one’s writing. I have noticed, however, that there are several things that a not insignificant amount of bar patrons do incorrectly and I would like to put that to a stop right now. If you who are reading this are a writer, too, then chances are you spend a fair amount of time at drinking establishments. Trust me, I understand that writer’s block is a bitch. Or maybe you just want to get outside and interact with other human beings after locking yourself in your office for days on end as you write. I get that.
Keep in mind that although the bright lights outside your house are confusing, you are still required to act at least somewhat like an adult when interacting with other people. Here are a few things I’ve noticed that people do at bars and to put it nicely, you need to cut that shit out right now.
Lesson 1: Getting the Bartender’s Attention
If you have ever waved money in the bartender’s face, tapped your credit card on the bar, or repeatedly slammed your hand on the bar to get a bartender’s attention, you’re doing it wrong. We are aware of your presence and we are going to serve you. That is, after all, how we make our money. Even if we have high falutin’ ideals about money, we still enjoy having money for things like food and rent. But even with that being said, I have refused to serve people who behave like that when attempting to get my attention. I’m a bartender, not a trained monkey, and it might be worth it to consider that you’re being rude and demeaning to someone serving you.
Lesson 2: If You Have to Say You’re Special, You Probably Aren’t.
In every bar, there are legitimately special people, regulars whom we love and who spent a lot of money and in return, we like to take care of them. I also find that the truly special regulars never demand anything. If they order from a new bartender, they don’t get aggravated that this person whom they have never met doesn’t have their favorite drink committed to memory and they don’t demand “extras.”
Then there are the people who think they’re special. When I first started bartending, I had the following conversation with a customer:
Me: Hey, what can I get for you?
Me: Two what?
Customer: Yeah, I’m just used to saying how many drinks I want, not what I want to drink.
Sorry, princess, your special drinks were not part of the training.
Then a few weeks later, I had this conversation with a different customer:
Customer: Can I get an extra large shot of Jaeger?
Me: Do you want a double?
Customer: No, just a tall single.
Me: I’m sorry, I’m not allowed to do anything other than exact pours.
Customer: Can I talk to another bartender? Just so you know, I’m a regular and I tip a lot.
Me: I’m the only bartender working right now.
Customer: Ugh, fine, just an “exact shot” of Jameson.
If you have to tell me you’re special, you probably aren’t.
Lesson 3: Know What You’re Ordering
In general, it’s a good idea to know what you want to drink before you order from the bartender. Now this isn’t to say that you can’t ask the bartender for recommendations. I have people do that all the time and it’s kind of fun, especially when I get to expose someone to a new drink they love. The irritation comes in when a situation like this arises:
Customer: Do you know how to make a Keoke Coffee?
Me: Not off the top of my head but if you tell me what’s in it I can.
Customer: Um, can’t you just Google it or something?
Folks, have at least an idea of what it is you’re ordering. Bartenders can commit a lot of drinks to memory but there are so many crazy variations that if you want something specific, at least be able to say what’s in it (for the record, a Keoke Coffee has brandy, coffee liqueur, crème de cacao, and coffee mixed together and topped with whipped cream).
Lesson 4: Don’t Order a Bloody Mary After 1pm
A Bloody Mary is one of the few alcoholic drinks that is appropriate to consume with breakfast. Not that you can’t order something else, but you might get some funny looks if you drink single malt scotch at brunch.
That being said, it’s a bit weird to drink a Bloody Mary during any other time of the day. I don’t usually mind if the bar isn’t too busy but if it’s 11pm on a Friday night and the line for the bar is four or five people deep, don’t order a breakfast drink with seven or eight ingredients. I even know bartenders who will refuse to make Bloody Marys at night. Most will, but if it’s super busy then we might hate you. Just a little bit.
Lesson 5: Don’t Behave Like a Five-Year-Old
Bar staff members expect a certain level of drunken shenanigans. After all, we are serving alcohol. But it does seem sometimes like people leave their homes and are confused by the bright lights and other people that exist in the world and forget how to behave in public. I’ve seen people start to strip, guys trying to urinate off of the balcony, people trying to dance on tables and chairs, girls arriving without shoes (and bars are notorious for broken glass), and food fights—and that’s just from last Friday. If you are old enough to frequent a bar then you are, in theory, an adult. Please behave like one. The last time I saw someone partaking in any of the above behaviors was when I used to work as a nanny.
Lesson 5: Tip Your Freaking Bartender
One night, a good friend of mine was bartending and a gentleman ran up a pretty sizeable bar tab. A $250 bar tab to be exact. When it came time to pay, my bartender friend ran this customer’s card and gave him the credit card slip to sign. Naturally, after waiting on this customer all night, my friend was expecting a pretty good tip on this tab. Instead, the customer wrote “Sorry, I’m not a millionaire” on the tip line and tipped him absolutely nothing.
I don’t understand people who behave like this. If you don’t have the money to tip, maybe drink less and set aside some money for those who serve you or don’t go out at all. Bartenders are like waiters; we’re usually paid less than minimum wage and are dependant on tips for our income. We can’t very well take your bullshit excuse you scribbled on your credit card slip and show it to the electric company in lieu of paying our bill.
That being said, do I expect people to tip me when I’m just opening a bottle of beer and handing it over? Not really, no. I need tips but realistically, all I did was pop off a bottle cap. But as a general rule, the more complicated the drink, the higher the tip should be. I know I tend to overtip but my policy tends to be $1 per drink for basic drinks like beer but if I’m ordering mixed drinks or something more expensive like scotch, I’ll get into tipping a percentage off my total bill.
If you like the bar and plan to be back, tip well. That’s a great way to ensure you’ll get great service when you return and then you could very well end up as one of the truly special regulars, one who doesn’t need to inform the bartender of how awesome you are.
Written by: Emily Regan
It’s no surprise that a relational stereotype between writers and alcohol exists. One often imagines a writer sitting in a smoky room with a cigarette between their lips and a drink by their side. Alcohol was believed by many writers to unlock their creativity and F. Scott Fitzgerald believed he wrote better while he drank. He was certainly not the only one to think that although I would expect alcohol to feel like a more useful tool when suffering from writer’s block.
Many famous writers are associated with certain drinks. As the Next Great American Novelist by day and a bartender by night, this intrigued me. At the very least, I figured these had to be more interesting than the flavored Smirnoff mixers I make for frat boys. Therefore, I have compiled for your undivided and enraptured reading pleasure, a list of famous authors and their drink of choice. I can’t guarantee if you drink like them then you’ll write like them but it couldn’t hurt, right?
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Drink of Choice: Mojito
What It Is: A Mojito is a rum drink mixed with fresh mint (among other things) that originated in Cuba, which explains why Hemingway might have been drawn to them. Mojitos don’t necessarily have the manliest reputation but I’m sure Hemingway would have disagreed. Although, realistically speaking, Hemingway could sit at my bar and order something like an Appletini and I’m pretty sure no one would dare mock him for it and anyone who did would get a punch to the face.
Bartender Tip: Many bars don’t always have fresh mint to make Mojitos, so if you’re interested in ordering one, ask first. It’s definitely worth it to wait until you’re somewhere that uses fresh mint than settle for bottled, pre-mixed Mojitos.
Author: Jack Kerouac
Drink of Choice: Margarita
What It Is: Everyone’s spring break favorite, a margarita is tequila, triple sec, lime, and sweet and sour. Kerouac reportedly became a fan of these while traveling through Mexico and his love of these drinks carried through the rest of his life.
Bartender Tip: Don’t order your margarita frozen if the bar is extremely busy. A bartender’s four favorite words are “the blender is broken.”
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Drink of Choice: Gin Rickey
What It Is: A Gin Rickey is a gin and soda with a little bit of lime juice. A simple, classic drink, a Gin Rickey is a great standard if you’re interested in gin. Fitzgerald apparently believed that no one could smell gin on his breath, but if the stories of his and his wife’s antics are true (dancing naked in a fountain, boiling party guests’ watches in soup, etc.) then no one would need to smell his breath.
Bartender Tip: Get to know your gins! If you’re interested in gin drinks then familiarize yourself with the different brands. Some places stock a decent gin in their well but it’s a good idea to know what you’re ordering.
Author: Oscar Wilde
Drink of Choice: Absinthe
What It Is: Ah, yes, the green fairy. Absinthe is a highly alcoholic beverage distilled from green anise, fennel, and various other herbs, most notably wormwood which is supposed to give consumers hallucinations.
It’s much more likely to look like a demonic Honey Boo Boo.
Bartender Tip: The United States lifted the ban on absinthe in 2007 provided that it not be sold with grande wormwood, the hallucinogenic, as an ingredient. However, it is still bright green and it tastes like black licorice so if that’s your thing then hop to it.
Author: Charles Bukowski
Drink of Choice: Boilermaker
What It Is: It’s a pint of beer and a shot of whiskey. Traditionally, you take the shot of whiskey and then drink the beer at your normal rate, but a boilermaker can also be served by dropping the shot in the beer.
Bartender Tip: I don’t have much to recommend for a boilermaker other than suggest you choose whiskey and beer that don’t suck. However, I did find a quote from Bukowski relating to alcohol that resonated with me as a writer:
“The nine-to-five is one of the greatest atrocities sprung upon mankind. You give your life away to a function that doesn’t interest you. This situation so repelled me that I was driven to drink, starvation, and mad females, simply as an alternative.”
I’m already a drunk so I can only surmise that starvation and mad females can’t be far behind.
Author: Jane Austen
Drink of Choice: Constantia Wine
What It Is: Constantia wine is a type of wine made from grapes sown in South Africa. During the height of their popularity, Constantia wine was heavily exported to Europe where Ms. Austen found it and drank it often as well as incorporated it into much of her writing. The fields were devastated in the late nineteenth century due to disease, but Constantia wine resumed production in the 1980s.
Bartender Tip: Drinking Constantia wine will not guarantee you go home with Mr. Darcy.
Author: Hunter S. Thompson
Drink of Choice: Chevas Regal or Wild Turkey on the rocks
What It Is: Specific brands of whiskey served over ice. Serious drinkers are serious about their alcohol preferences.
Bartender Tip: I wouldn’t recommend mixing up a true Hunter S. Thompson cocktail of uppers, downers, and whatever the hell else he was on.
Authors: Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton
Drink of Choice: Martini
What It Is: Gin or vodka served chilled in a cocktail glass, generally with vermouth and often garnished with olives. Plath and Sexton met during a poetry class and used to go out for martinis afterwards at the Ritz in New York City.
Bartender Tip: Familiarize yourself with the variations on martinis so you’ll know how to order one. Here are a few variations to get you started:
This probably all goes without saying but exercise caution and moderation. Just because you drink the same drinks as famous writers doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily create art of their same magnitude.
Then again, what the hell do I know?
“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”
–Hunter S. Thompson
Written by: Emily Regan
On the days that I crawl out of the cave of beer and corn chips that I call my “office,” I will on occasion meet new people who, in the course of polite conversation, will ask about what I do for work. I’ll usually describe my job that pays my rent and utilities and then, almost as an afterthought, I’ll mention that I write. Although I know it’s weird, I have a hard time describing myself as a writer. This is probably due to the large number of people I know who call themselves writers, but seem to be far more interested in the lifestyle of a writer, or at least what they perceive to be the lifestyle of a writer. This usually amounts to imagining themselves to be the lovechildren of Hunter S. Thompson and Ernest Hemingway while drinking and smoking, but doing very little writing other than making sure you watch them write three or four words in their barely used Moleskin notebooks.
“Okay, repeat our conversation, but slower this time. I want to make sure to suck all of the fun out of our interaction.”
This is something, however, that I will need to get over because in order to succeed as a writer, I need to be able to promote my work and myself. I had this fantasy of a large publishing house with a massive marketing department doing this kind of thing for me, but alas, Random House is not yet banging down my door (Yet. They’ll come around). This means that it’s up to me and shameless self-promotion to get people to buy my book because really, I can only rely on my family to buy so many copies, and my dogs are lazy and haven’t gotten jobs so it’s not like they can bump up my numbers on Amazon (plus they’re not great with computers).
Pictured: Not my dog.
Even though I’m sure that writing is what I want to do, it’s still hard to get up the nerve to promote my stuff. I looked into hiring a publicist to do this kind of thing for me, but their services are much more expensive than I expected. This isn’t to say I don’t understand because hey, we’ve all gotta make a buck, but it gets a little disheartening after a while. I want to promote my work but I also don’t want to end up as that person whose emails get automatically filtered into the spam box either.
What I really should do is recruit people younger than me who are vastly more popular on the Internet to promote my writing, like my niece and nephew. My nephew has made real money through his Youtube videos (something I didn’t think was actually possible) and my niece is far more popular than I could ever hope to be. She has over 2,500 Facebook friends and she can post something like “It’s hot today,” and she’ll have 47 people like it within the first ten seconds. I totally get why she’s so popular: she’s pretty, smart, kind, and really funny; it’s just weird to come to terms with the fact that I will never be as popular as a teenager, even if my dreams of becoming the Next Great American Writer come true and my book lands at the top of the New York Times bestseller list with an Oprah sticker on the cover.
So, what is a self-conscious writer to do? The way I see it, I basically have two options: one, I can continue to be afraid to promote myself and turn into one of the “writers” I mentioned earlier with a Moleskin notebook and fantasies filled with typewriters, cigars and scotch.
Or, two, I can get over myself and learn to embrace the shameless self-promotion and whoring of my book that come with the territory of being a new writer. Does it feel weird and narcissistic? Yes, yes it does. But have I sold copies of my book by throwing my dignity aside and promoting my book to strangers? Yes, yes I have.
This book has been known to increase sexual prowess and attractiveness in those who purchase it. Sound too good to be true? Only one way to find out!
Self-promotion can be hard, but it’s how you get yourself out there when you’re a new writer. Learn to embrace how ridiculous you feel and it’ll get easier with time.
Oops, too late.
Written by: Emily Regan
Most writers, either intentionally or subconsciously, draw inspiration for their writing from the world around them. Their life experiences, education, travels, and especially the people they meet are all fair game in fiction. On some level I think this can create a slight paranoia amongst a writer’s family and friends. However, I’ve found that the most interesting fuel for fiction comes from strangers. It’s amazing what you can overhear strangers say without even trying very hard to listen in on their conversations. It seems like people believe they are in their very own personal cones of silence and no one else can hear them.
I like to take some of the odd things people say and use them as starting points for writing exercises. I’ve found that random pieces of conversation when taken out of context can create interesting fiction. After all, that’s how gossip works.
If this sounds like a writing exercise you’d like to try, I’ve decided to help get you started with five pieces of overheard conversation.
1. “If you don’t take the batteries out then it’ll turn on in your backpack.” This could be in reference to just about anything electronic with removable batteries, but I like to think they were discussing vibrators. Makes the conversation a bit more interesting.
2. “Man, if we hadn’t been in jail this weekend we could’ve gotten chimichangas.” A friend of mine overheard this one and I have to say, at least their priorities are in order.
3. “You don’t really know someone until you’re fisting them.” I overheard this chat between two men while working as a cocktail waitress, and it’s one of the few times that I was left speechless. I suppose, however, that they could have a valid point.
4. “I just think that humans have a more meaningful existence than chimps, you know? It’s just better to be a human.” I heard this one in a bar as well (surprising, I know). It wasn’t worth it to get involved, but I can think of a few apes that might disagree with this drunken philosopher.
5. “It’s all about penis! Penis, penis, penis! Penis all the time!” Again, I overheard this being shouted in a bar. I’m not really sure how this could inspire something other than erotica, but if you do, let me know. I might be willing to share the title of Next Great American Author with you (maybe).
These are just a few of the delightful gems I’ve come across, but there are so many out there so long as you don’t have ethical qualms about listening to other people’s conversations. I figure that if people are in public, then there’s no such thing as a private conversation but, however, I draw the line at phone tapping or reading text messages. That’s crazy behavior.
But you can still collect underpants if you want. No judgment.
I love tattoos. I love the history, I love the different styles, the techniques, all of it. I have several tattoos with plans for many, many more and I often put them on display. I paid a lot of money for the artistry on my skin and dammit I’m going to show them off. As a result, I get a lot of questions about my tattoos. A common question people ask me is if I think I’ll be able to get a job being as tattooed as I am (ironically, I’m most often asked this while I’m at work). I don’t anticipate my tattoos being an issue because I don’t plan to tattoo my hands or throat. Besides, if my writing the next Great American Novel pans out the way I want it to, then I won’t have to worry about my tattoos at all because I’ll work from home and, as far as I know, the dogs won’t judge me.
Tattoos are becoming much more mainstream in Western culture these days and at times it almost feels like more of a surprise when I come across someone who doesn’t have any work done. I’ve noticed that a lot of the same tattoos tend to be on a lot of different people, so I’ve compiled a list of eight common tattoos with “what you think they say about you” versus “what they actually say about you.”
1. Any Kanji Symbol
What You Think It Says: “I’m so deep and am invoking ancient traditions into my honor code through a tattoo meaning ‘courage.’”
What It Actually Says: “I picked a flash tattoo off the wall of the shop that supposedly means ‘courage,’ but actually means ‘pig ass.’”
2. Anything in a Language in Which You Are Not Fluent
What You Think It Says: “My worldly and cultured turn of phrase inked on my skin elevates me above your English ‘live, laugh, love’ tattoo. Perhaps I acquired it during time spent abroad? I’m fascinating!”
What It Actually Says: “PLEASE ASK ME ABOUT MY WORLDLY AND CULTURED TATTOO! I WANT TO IMPRESS YOU WITH MY KNOWLEDGE OF THREE OR FOUR WORDS IN A LANGUAGE THAT’S NOT MY OWN!”
What You Think It Says: “I am a beautiful snowflake connected with the vast mysteries of the ocean and these highly intelligent creatures.”
What It Actually Means: “I got drunk during my spring break trip to Rocky Point and made regrettable decisions.”
4. Religious Imagery
What You Think It Says: “The faith I carry at the core of my being is so omnipresent in my life that I wear it on my skin as a physical sign of my devotion.”
What It Actually Says: “I love God so much I got him permanently marked on my body! What, you just served at a soup kitchen? Yeah, that’s not on your body forever so it doesn’t count. God loves me more.”
5. A Pair of Cherries
What You Think It Says: “Tee hee! I’m sweet but maybe just a little bit naughty!”
What It Actually Says: “I’m sixteen and coordinate all of my belongings with merchandise from Claire’s Accessories. Also, you might want to get tested because you are not the first in line for this ride.”
6. Tribal Anything
What It Actually Says: “I’m in a frat and the only thing I did to earn this tribal piece that symbolizes becoming a man is do a bunch of Jello shots and complete a dare.”
7. Your Significant Other’s Name
What It Actually Says: “This will be really awkward to explain to my next significant other.”
8. Your Own Initials/Name/Face
What You Think It Says: “I’m so awesome I needed a tattoo of me, on me!”
What It Actually Says: “This is how people will be able to identify me after the hooker steals my wallet.”
While I jest and lovingly mock these types of tattoos, it ultimately doesn’t matter what I or anyone else thinks of your tattoos. If the tattoo is important to you, then everyone else, smartass writers included, can suck it. Heck, I even have a couple of the aforementioned designs (not the cherries).
If you’re one of the untattooed freaks of the world, then I think it’s important to remember the words of Norman Collins, better known as Sailor Jerry: “If you don’t think you have balls enough to wear a tattoo, don’t get one, but don’t try to make excuses for yourself by knocking the fellow who does.” That sorority girl in your English 105 class might have a tramp stamp of a unicorn, but she decided, however inebriated, that she was willing to commit to that thing for life while you can’t even commit to a favorite brand of soda.
If you fancy yourself a writer, chances are you have spent some time writing in a coffee shop. You, sitting there with your Macbook Pro, typing away while the other customers are most assuredly peeking at you over their newspapers thinking, “Wow, they must be writing the next great American novel! And I get to watch!”
I’m not judging. I’ve done it, too. Sometimes the walls of my apartment start to close in and I have to get out before I go crazy. I try to focus on writing and all I can see are dirty dishes, unwashed laundry, smudged mirrors, and the sad faces of my dogs begging for love and attention.
But while I’ve spent my fair share of time publicly writing the next great American novel, I’ve also spent a significant amount of time on the other side of the bar as a barista (a fledgling writer working in a coffee shop? No! Go on!). If your barista is somewhat grumpy, it’s entirely possible that it has nothing to do with you. Maybe they’re having a bad day, maybe their cat is sick, maybe they got another publishing rejection letter because they didn’t think to submit to Eat Your Serial’s short story contest. Perhaps it has nothing to do with you.
Sometimes it’s not your barista. Sometimes it’s you. Check the following list and find out if you’re guilty of any of these practices, which could cause your barista to kill you off in her next book.
1. Show up before the coffee shop opens.
It seems like fairly simple logic: if the open sign is turned off and the current time is outside the posted hours, the shop isn’t open. On a few occasions when I was a barista, I’d have customers wander in and demand (because no one asks nicely anymore) coffee while I was still counting the register and the chairs were all still up on the tables. Not wanting to turn away business, I’d serve them, but I hit my limit the day one of the customers said rudely, “Um, just so you know, your open sign is off. Did you know that?”
Yes, yes I did. Idiot.
2. Take twenty minutes to order during the morning rush.
Unless you’ve never heard of coffee before, you most likely have a general idea of what you like to drink when you visit a coffee shop. What drove me up a wall were the customers who stood in line staring at the menu but when they got up to the register and I asked them what they would like to drink, they stared at me as if I had just asked them to recite the periodic table backwards. In Aramaic.
3. Ask for a job during the morning rush. The coffee shop I worked in was located near a high school and one morning during a particularly busy rush, one of the high school kids started banging on the counter and shouted, “Hey! HEY!” When I looked over at him he asked, “Are you hiring?” Not anymore, sparky.
4. Actually, anything during a rush other than politely ordering your coffee. If I have a line of six or seven coffee cups at the espresso machine during a rush, I don’t really have time to deal with you repeating, “But I just really need a banana!” over and over even though I’ve already explained to you that we don’t carry fresh fruit, but there’s a grocery store literally one hundred feet from our front door.
5. Screw up your own drink order.
You are a special snowflake with very specific likes and dislikes. You, of all people, should know what these are and be able to correctly order your own coffee. I once had a girl come in and spend ten minutes ordering her coffee and tweaking it to her exact specifications. I delivered her drink, she squealed with delight, and she pranced about on her merry way. Ten minutes later, and with the drink half gone, she came back up to the bar and requested I remake the drink with soy because she “like, totally forgot she doesn’t like milk.”
6. Have inappropriate volume control.
Either end of the spectrum is really unnecessary. Shouting at me as if I’m deaf is uncalled for as is whispering inaudibly. The latter happened with startling regularity which would result in me practically lying on the counter top, close enough to qualify as a prom night backseat in an effort to hear an inaudible customer. Speak at a normal volume. Pretend like we’re having a real conversation during a real human interaction.
7. Try to best the barista with your coffee knowledge.
I can’t even count the number of times that I had customers try and “quiz me” on coffee history and terminology in an effort to try and one up me and feel superior to the underpaid barista pulling their espresso. Yes, you obnoxious prat, I know what a true macchiato is. Stop challenging me for the smug satisfaction you might get from smiling pettily at the rest of the coffee line. It only makes me want to spit in your drink.
8. Explain to the barista how to make a basic espresso drink.
I know how to make a freaking latte. Trust me, I’m a professional.
9. Make stupid requests about things you want to see in the shop.If you work in a coffee shop, especially when you move higher up in management, you tend to be open to new ideas for ways to improve the business because hey, good ideas can come from anywhere. Stupid ideas, however, are best kept to yourself. I once had a high maintenance regular request we put an exercise bike in the shop so when she wanted to take a study break, she could hope on the bike for five minutes. You want to take a study break? Walk outside. Want to ride an exercise bike? Buy one and study at home.
10. Don’t tip.
It seems that a lot of people are unaccustomed to tipping for coffee which, in a Starbucks world, I get. Why tip someone who pushed a button on a machine? However, if you go to a coffee shop where the baristas manually pull shots and put forth some real effort in your drink, throw them a buck or two. Baristas endure a lot of crap from high maintenance customers and an appreciative tip goes a long way to improving their minimum wage day. Plus, they might stop making fun of you while you write for attention in the shop.
For more ways to piss off your barista, check out Conversations I Want to Have with Customers.