Author Archives: Beleaguered Barista

Daynah’s Environmental Disaster

Hello y’all. I hope everyone had a good week, and for those of you that celebrated it, a wonderful Chinese New Year. It’s Monday, which means, I procrastinated and didn’t get a post to you yesterday night. Unfortunately, the opportunity to re-watch Trevor Noah slay the stand-up game was too good of one to pass up, hence why you’re getting this post today. Apologies.

Today’s post features Daynah, a woman who makes you wish mute buttons actually worked in real life.

First Encounter:

I first meet Daynah over the phone. It’s 4:45 in the morning, the store has yet to open, and I am setting up the pastry display when the phone begins to ring incessantly. As I answer it, the customer on the line (who later gives her name as Daynah) begins demanding I set aside a box of our “gingerbread square things.”

Given that we don’t sell those, I was particularly confused.

“Sorry,” I say. “We don’t sell gingerbread squares. We do have gingerbread loaves – ”

“NO!” she shouts, cutting me off. “I don’t want gingerbread loaves. It’s a box of gingerbread somethings.”

“The gingerbread cookies?” I suggested.

She grunted in annoyance. “I can’t believe you don’t know what I’m talking about. The box of squares with gingerbread you can buy and share with a lot of people?”

Already annoyed at her rudeness and impatience, I took a wild guess. “The berry bars?” I suggested.

YES! THOSE!” She shouts in exasperated triumph.

Let’s just stop there. There’s absolutely no correlation between gingerbread and berries. How do you even mix those things up? Those are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS and do not sound REMOTELY the same. At all.

She tells me to hold a box for her and informs me that she will be coming by in a few minutes to pick it up.

Seeing Daynah:

Ten minutes after hanging up with Daynah, she walks into the store.

For those of you that have worked in service or retail before, this is the customer that has the “I need to speak to a manager” face permanently plastered on. With scraggly brown hair, plastic red-rimmed glasses, a naturally frowning mouth, and a witch-like nose, I knew the moment I laid eyes on Daynah that our encounter would be unpleasant.

I was right.

“Hi, I called in earlier about the gingerbread squares,” she says to me.

“Yeah. I’ve got them here, the berry bars.” I replied.

“Whatever,” she retorts and waves her hand in annoyance.

I ring in the bars and ask her if she wants anything else. She nods, and tells me she’s getting a coffee.

Then she opens her mouth.

“I’m getting a 1/3 decaf, nonfat, half sweet, no foam, no whip, extra sprinkles, cinnamon latte.”

Repressing the urge to roll my eyes, I write down her order and head over to the bar to make it. I prompt the debit machine for her before I leave, and inform her she can pay.

As I’m halfway from finishing her drink, she requests that I place her “latte” (if we’re going to call this concoction a latte), into one of the reusable cups we sell. However, considering I have nearly finished her drink and have poured the milk halfway into the cup already, it seems rather moot to put the latte into a reusable cup and have to throw out the paper one.

In the same instant that she is asking I place her drink into a reusable cup, she begins to lecture me about the use of paper cups.

“I just disagree with your store policy about paper cups. I hate paper cups. That’s why I buy so many reusable cups.”

A) Did I ask for your life story? No. No I did not.
B) She may have bought a lot of reusable cups, but she sure as heck has not been using them, especially since she walked in that morning without one.

I get it. I hate that my store does not yet use compostable paper cups. I hate that our waste is so high. I go through our recycling and compost bins when it is not busy to make sure people are properly throwing their trash and waste away into the proper corresponding bags. BUT. How self-unaware can you be to reach this level of idiocy?

At the end of her lecture, she realizes that I have finished making her drink, and decides against getting the reusable cup.

“It’s pointless now anyway. You’ve already put my latte in the garbage cup.”

If you have such a moral objection to our store… WHY ARE YOU HERE? GO HOME! I sure as heck didn’t want to start my shift off with a long-ass lecture from a hypocritical customer.

Since Daynah seems to dislike coming into my store so much, I expect to never see her again.


Daynah Won’t Go:

I see her twice that same week. Both times, I get the same exact lecture about environmental responsibility. Both times, she grabs a plastic cup of water, downs it, and proceeds to throw it into the garbage.

Our cups are number five plastics. They’re recyclable.

One day, she lectures my co-worker about our cup policy, I interrupt to tell her that our plastic cups are recyclable.

“So?” She snorts.
“Well, you’ve been throwing your water cup in the garbage, so I just thought I would let you know.” I reply.
“Whatever. Your paper cups are still not compostable. So I don’t agree with your cup policy. You guys should be ashamed of yourselves.”

Then she leaves the store in a huff.

I see her again that week. Just. Ugh. *pinches bridge of nose.*


The post Daynah’s Environmental Disaster appeared first on Beleaguered Barista.

Kristophur: The Mocha Dick (Part 2)

It’s Wednesday, which means your resident beleaguered barista is back again with another post. But today also happens to be Valentine’s Day, so I just wanted to wish a happy love day to all the singles, couples, trios, etc. out there. May your days be great and your hearts be full. And if love’s not your thing, today is also the 89th anniversary of the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day massacre. So, uh, there’s that going for you.

For those of you just joining in, this is the second part of the Kristophur saga (read Part I here). It’s going to be another long one, and you’ll probably have to strap in and grab some more chocolate, or maybe some holy water to throw at your screen.

Episode IV: A New Low

It’s Christmas, and Kris’s present to me and my coworkers is to grace us with his presence. I guess Santa thought we all deserved a lump of coal that year. Given that we’re one of the only coffee shops to be open on Christmas, the store is horrifically busy when he enters, which means the chances of a short interaction have just vanished from existence.

As I’m making his drink, he leans over the counter, intent on chatting us up. I put my head down to work, hoping that my lack of eye contact will be taken as a signal that I do not want to talk. Rather than take the hint, Kris asks a general question.

“Are you gals doing any ho-ho-ho-ing today?”

I know. On digital paper, it doesn’t seem that gross. Some of you might be sitting there wondering why I’m so mad. Let me tell you why. Kris wasn’t asking us if we were celebrating Christmas. If you add in the perverted inflection and the disgusting eyebrow waggle he gave us, what he really meant by that question was something sexual, and something that made my skin crawl.

(If you don’t know what he meant, I’ll spell out for you: he’s asking us if we’re engaging in any sexual activities AND implying that we’re hoes.)

A) Any sexual activity we engage in is NONE OF HIS BEESWAX (I mean, we didn’t, but that’s beside the point)

B) Slut-shaming is the stupidest shit I’ve ever heard of. If someone has properly consented to sex and happens to like having it with different partners, then good on them. If that’s what they enjoy, then who gives a damn? They’re out living their best life. Are you? Or are you busy being stupidly judgemental over someone else’s life and policing what they do with their body?

C) EW.

He leaves after we tell him: “No, we’re just working today.”

Episode V: The Mocha Dick Strikes Back

One morning, Kris walks in, a leering smile plastered on his face, and eyes lit up with mischief. Already, I’m on edge. It’s too early for him to start with his particular brand of disgustingness, and I am not caffeinated enough to deal with him.

Unfortunately, my manager is watching me, and I cannot be anything by overly nice to him as he approaches my cash register. I greet him and ask him what I can get him for that day.

He says: “You know what I want.”

I do, but I do not want to give him the satisfaction of him knowing that I know his drink by heart.

“Sorry,” I say. “You’ll have to remind me.”

He rattles off his drink, a little annoyed that he has to actually order. As I’m going off to make his drink, I (stupidly) attempt to make conversation with him.

“It’s nice outside today,” I muse.
“It’s nicer inside,” he says, looking pointedly at me. “In fact, it’s beautiful, I’d say”
“Yeah, it’s warmer inside, but the weather is beautiful,” I reply, oblivious.
“I wasn’t talking about the weather,” he says. He pushes his glasses up higher onto the bridge of his nose, and he’s biting his lip as he stares at me.

I am grossed out and panic. “I was,” I say.

The conversation dies real fast after that. When he grabs his drink, he leaves silently, and I think (hope) it’s the last time I will see him.

I was wrong.

Episode VI: Return of the Mocha Dick

During a rush, Kris is chit-chatting with Bunny at her cash register. What they talk about, I’m not sure, but as I’m walking by them to place a drink on the bar, I overhear this absolutely horrific question exit his mouth: “do you like pussies? Cuz I do.”

Bunny looks at me, and I do a quick double-take. Did he seriously just ask her that? Yes. Yes, this incredibly perverted asshat did.

If y’all are confused. He. Wasn’t. Referring. To. Cats.

Again, the perverted inflection and disgusting lecherous grin on his face was a dead giveaway for what he was actually referring to.

At this point, we would have been happy if Kris got some of the treatment the burglars did in Home Alone.

Exhibit A)

Exhibit B)


Episode VII: The Mocha Dick Awakens

Last week, Kris hits the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. As Bunny is cleaning part of the store, he joins her at the stand where all the milk and sugar is kept and touches her without her consent.

He feels her neck and caresses her hair, and makes her completely and irrevocably uncomfortable and unsafe. To top it all off, before he puts his hands on her, he says: “Don’t worry, my hands are clean.”

Uhm. No. Nope. No, they are not you fricken sleazebag. They are disgusting hands and you have just sexually harassed a girl in plain view of everyone.

It’s upsetting to hear about, especially since Bunny is usually the unshakeable one at work. But that day, she was visibly affected by the incident and went home in shock.

A couple of days later, my brilliant coworker Miranda (who you’ll be hearing more about in the future because she is a bad-ass), confronts Kris as he walks into the store. She calls attention to his unacceptable behaviour (aka his non-consensual grope of Bunny) and asks that he apologize for his actions.

Rather than admit to his mistake, Kris takes the coward’s way out. He states that he didn’t know and that he thought it was okay since Bunny did not say anything to him. He says he didn’t mean anything bad by it.

Well, honey. The road to hell is paved with “good” intentions.

A few days later, he came in and begrudgingly apologized, repeating his earlier statements of no-harm-intended and general lack of knowledge. Though it was overall unsatisfactory, it was a step.

Just so you know, we’ll be monitoring Kris from now on. If he escalates or repeats his behaviour again, we’re probably going to call HR on his stupid ass. And then we’ll never have to see him again. Which, I think would be a brilliant victory.

So that concludes Mocha Dick’s saga for now. Let’s just hope it stays that way.

The post Kristophur: The Mocha Dick (Part 2) appeared first on Beleaguered Barista.

Kristophur: The Mocha Dick (PART 1)

Happy Sunday y’all.

This week, I introduce you to Kristophur: The Mocha Dick. I’m going to be splitting up the saga of his patronage at my café into two parts. Part one will cover his aggressive and asshat behaviour, while part two will tell the tale of his inappropriate sexual advances. Fun stuff, I know.

Fair warning to you though.  This might be a long one. So, sit down, grab some chocolate (and maybe find some emotional zen) because this customer is probably going to make you mad – or, at least, mildly annoyed.

But before I start, here is a FUN FACT for y’all: Mocha Dick (see the title of this post) is an actual thing. It happens to be the name of the sperm whale that Herman Melville’s well-known book, Moby Dick, is based on; this massive whale terrorized the Pacific Ocean during the early 19th century.

Anyway, Kristophur buys mochas AND he’s a colossal dick. Hence, mocha dick. Let’s get started.

For those of you who’ve been reading, Kristophur is very similar to Mykel. They both suck any semblance of joy, hope, and happiness from the air just by walking into the store. Ergo: another dementor.

So what does this terror look like? Imagine a corpulent Elmer Fudd, minus the charming desire to hunt wabbits and the endearing speech impediment. Add in thick-set glasses, an obnoxiously red hoodie that never seems to get washed, and a disgustingly leering smile.

Behold! The glory that is Kristophur.

Episode I: The Mocha menace

The first time I meet Kris, it also happens to be my first time working as a barista. It’s the middle of a morning rush when he walks in and says: “Are you new? I have never seen you before in life.”
“Yes,” I reply. “It’s my first day.”
To which he says (more like shouts/demands): “I’m getting my regular drink.”

Let’s stop there first. Given that he is obviously a regular and has never seen me before PLUS, has confirmed that I am new to the store, why would he expect me to know his drink? WHY? I don’t know what his drink is at this point. I’M NEW.

Kris releases a frustrated sigh of discontent and then proceeds to rattle off his drink.

“I get a large, decaf, nonfat, no foam, no whip, mocha.”

As I’m fumbling to write down the order and ring it in, he chimes in again: “make sure you remember it for next time. You should know it. I come in a lot. Also, it’s decaf. Don’t you dare make it caffeinated.”

I nod, hand the drink to the barista making drinks, and pray to heavens that I never have to see him again.

No such luck there.


The second time I see Kris, I have worked a total of seven days at my café and still have no idea how to make drinks. Unfortunately for me, he walks in, orders his drink, and I’m tasked with the gift (see: curse) of having to make that monstrosity.

The problem is, the cup literally has KRIS written on it. There is no indication as to what the drink is. His royal corpulence walks up to me at the end of the bar and leans over to ask me loudly if I have remembered his drink yet.

I have not.

He gets visibly angry that I have not done so, despite these facts:
a) I am still new
b) I have a life outside of work – it involves school, getting yelled at by my mother, watching British documentaries, procrastinating and a whole lot of NOT BEING A BARISTA.
c) See how the above fact does NOT include memorizing asshat customers and their weird drinks?

Finally, after a disappointed sigh, he takes pity on me and tells me his drink again. What he fails to do is inform me that he does not want any foam on his “coffee.” So I make the drink he has told me to make, but with foam.

He goes apoplectic.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” He explodes. He then looks over at my manager and gestures to me.

“Can you do something about this? This is unacceptable. Just unbelievable.”

I’m standing there, pitcher in my hand and bewilderment in my heart.

“What did I do wrong?” I ask him. He scoffs and just rolls his eyes.

My manager takes one look at him and then glances at the drink that I have managed to produce.

“Oh, you gave him foam. He didn’t want any.”

Great. Thanks for that heads up. Thanks so so much. I remake the drink and hand it off to him.

He takes it and then tells my manager this before he leaves: “You know, she’s not very smart, is she? Got a lot to learn, she does.”


Over the next couple of months, I have limited interaction with Kris. Which turn out to be some of the best months of my time as a barista.

Then, one miserable day, he comes in and destroys all that joy and happiness in an instant.

The moment Kris walks in, I cannot help but stand at attention.
The red hoodie, his signature top of choice, acted as a warning sign of impending doom from the other side of the parking lot. Kind of like Princess Leia when she encounters Governor Tarkin. Minus the presence of a young Harrison Ford.

Princess Leia saying: I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board.

Immediately, Kris comments on the number of people that are working.

“Wow, Sapphire (my manager), must be slacking. There are so many of you working. Weird.”

Yes, Kris. Completely weird that people must work to earn a living. What a concept. I definitely don’t have bills and tuition to pay, groceries to buy, money to save for a house I won’t ever be able to buy because of the economy. Yup. No need to work here at all. Cue the intense eye rolls. (Also if y’all did not pick up on that sarcasm… I can’t help you.)

Anyhow, moving on. Kris orders and receives his drink with little to no problems. It is when he attempts (keyword being attempt) to put the lid on his cup that he encounters trouble. For some reason, his sausage fingers are unable to deftly place the plastic lid on top of the cup, and he ends up spilling his drink across the bar.

Rather than apologize for making a mess, he looks at me and informs me loudly that I have made him spill his drink.

Excuse me? I’ve been behind his giant stone counter for the last five minutes. Also, I did not hold a weapon to your head and demand you spill your stupid drink across the counter. I did not MAKE you do anything!

Rather than say any of that to him, I tell him that I will make him a new drink.

“You better. You’re the one that spilled it.”

Again, I choose to stay silent; I bite my tongue.  I proceed to make him his drink and hope that he leaves. INSTEAD, this asshat has the audacity to slam open the door to our back room, locate my manager who is doing admin work there, and shouts at her that I have spilled his drink and need to clean up the mess I made, and then leaves.

Just. Nope. I hope this man steps on some legos. Barefoot. And then falls on them. Or just disappears off the face of the planet.


So that’s it for this (very long) post. Catch the second part of Kristophur’s epic journey up on Wednesday at 9:30pm.

Hope y’all have as good a Monday as you can,


The post Kristophur: The Mocha Dick (PART 1) appeared first on Beleaguered Barista.

Pyramid Schemes: The Not-so-Great Wonder of the World

I’d just been ready to cross the street when someone tapped me on the shoulder and gave me a friendly wave. Out of curiosity,  I took out my earbuds and turned to my left, where I was greeted with the sight of a rather handsome boy with a nice smile. (Yeah, I have a weakness for nice smiles – what can you do?)

Instead of listening to my gut reaction, which was to ignore the guy and walk away, I greeted him and we began to talk. He gestured to my camera and asked if I liked photography. I nodded and told him I’d just gone on a photo shoot in the downtown Vancouver area.

The light changed, and I moved to cross the street. Rather than drop the conversation, he asked if he could walk me across the street, and we continued our amiable chatter all the while. As we were crossing, the romantic-comedy obsessed part of my brain flared to life.

This is it, I thought. This is the moment my life changes. THIS IS HOW I FALL IN LOVE. Or leave singledom. Cue dramatic and romantic music.

But, RECORD SCRATCH, it wasn’t it. And my life definitely didn’t change (at least, not for the better).

When we got to the bus stop and started to queue up, I started internally freaking out. He was still smiling at me, and I still had no idea what to do.

And then, he said the words that no girl wants to hear from a cute boy.

“Say, have you heard of -insert forgotten name here-? He’s a really young and successful entrepreneur…”

I nearly smacked myself in the face. Of bloody course. The one time a cute guy talks to me, he’s looking to recruit for a pyramid scheme. OF COURSE. I mean, out of 10, I’m sometimes a solid 3.5. And he was definitely a 7 or 8. I should have known from the start that something was up.

To say that moment was very humbling for me would be the understatement of the century. Yikes. I felt my face flush out of dread, embarrassment, and a little bit of annoyance.


Realizing I had to nip this social interaction in the bud ASAP, I cut him off.

“Yup, I’ve heard of him. He’s really cool, but I’m not interested in doing what he did.”

The only plus side to this was that he had the decency to look taken aback and caught out.

“Oh,” he said.
“Yup.” I replied.

Things got awkward real fast. He bit his lip, glanced down at his nonexistent watch and tapped his arm.

“I just realized I have somewhere to be,” he started.
“Yup.” I said again.

He quickly walked off into the sunset and I boarded the bus, laughing at myself the whole way home.

beast facepalms

This is why I don’t talk to strangers. It never ends well for me.

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Hairold and the Disguised Latte

Basilisks aren’t a lot of fun. In the words of J.K. Rowling:

Of the many fearsome beasts and monsters that roam our land, there is none more curious or more deadly than the Basilisk, known also as the King of Serpents. This snake, which may reach gigantic size, and live many hundreds of years, is born from a chicken’s egg, hatched beneath a toad. Its methods of killing are most wondrous, for aside from its deadly and venomous fangs, the Basilisk has a murderous stare, and all who are fixed with the beam of its eye shall suffer instant death.

To sum up: basilisks are kind of like massive and deadly pet peeves. One, they’re really big snakes, and two, the basilisk featured in the second Harry Potter film (and novel) was most definitely a pet-like creature for the horcruxed (yup, that’s 100% an adjective) Voldemort / Tom Riddle. Plus, pet peeves really do kill you – spiritually, emotionally, and sometimes physically.

If we’re going by this definition, Hairold is a big ol’ basilisk.

Now, Hairold is one of those regulars that you have to be nice to because your manager is looking at you and you need to keep your job. He’s a pleasant enough man (by that, I really mean not-at-all pleasant), severely round around the belly, balding, hairy, loud, rude, and all-around insufferable. Just seeing him makes your eyes retreat into the back of your head.

Hairold comes in on my shifts and orders a small doppio espresso macchiato with no foam in a medium cup. Some of you may be sitting there scratching your heads wondering why the heck I’m so bitter about this. Let me explain. An espresso macchiato (or café macchiato – which it’s also called) is simply espresso with a LITTLE BIT of milk, usually foamed.  So, this order simply makes no sense. It’s like ordering a cappuccino with no foam – stupid and nonsensical.

Anyway, back to Hairold. I was confused with his order, and asked him to clarify what he meant by no foam. Did he simply want a doppio espresso?

Alas, no.

Hairold wanted me to fill the medium cup to the top with steamed milk. In other words, he wanted a bloody MEDIUM LATTE and didn’t want to pay for it. The first time he pulled this on me, I let him slide. I get it. Coffee is a very expensive addiction to feed, and my store isn’t known for selling cheap drinks. But Hairold consistently does this. And it drives me up the wall because he gets increasingly rude about it.  He will peer over the bar and shout at me:
“Make sure you pour the milk all the way to the top!”
“I don’t want any foam on that drink, ya hear?”
“There better not be a drop of foam on that drink!”
“The milk better be at the top when I get that drink!”

If ever there was a customer I would tell to go to hell, it would be Hairold. Yelling at your barista because you don’t know how to be inside like a functional human being is:
a) incredibly rude
b) incredibly condescending
c)  incredibly irritating
d) incredibly stupid – I control what goes into your drink man. You might end up with decaf.

On top of ordering his disguised latte, Hairold also likes to buy our bottled coffee and add shots of espresso to it.

One morning, he walks in and demands that we throw in two shots of espresso into the glass bottle he just picked up from the refrigerated section of the store. He screws open the lid and looks at me expectantly.

I ring in the bottle and push the button on the POS that adds the two shots to his drink. Apparently that was a mistake. He immediately takes one look at the price and throws a temper tantrum about it.

“That’s NOT what I get charged. What is wrong with you? I normally pay $3.40. Not what you’ve charged me”

Uhm other than the fact that I have to serve you? Nothing. I wish I could have said that to him. Or pulled a Rihanna and rolled my window up on his serpentine ass. 

Rihanna rolling up a car window looking shady

Hairold keeps shouting that I have wrongly charged him for his espresso, and ask that I do it “properly” and “right.”
Exasperated with my supposed incompetence, Hairold calls out:

“Where’s Ted’s wife?! She knows how I’m supposed to be charged!”

The fact that this man doesn’t even know the barista’s name and has to identify her based on her marital status is pretty sad. She’s more than someone’s wife you idiot. She’s an actual human with a name… just saying.

My manager, hearing the commotion from the back, comes out and looks to ameliorate the situation. She clears the transaction and tries again to ring it in the way he wants it – it doesn’t happen.

He gets increasingly frustrated, until I magically find out that ringing in a cup of water and adding in the two espresso shots after produces the price that Hairold wants to pay for his coffee. Thank the lord. After that, he pays for his drink and leaves.

Yesterday, I saw Harold again. It was superbly painful and just all-around not fun. He must be a wizard at this point, given how much he keeps ordering those damned disguised lattes.

Just. Ugh. Someone needs to sick Fawkes on this guy’s ass so the regal phoenix can poke this snake’s eyes out.
Fawkes the Phoenix poking the basilisk's eyes out



The Drama with Sellmah

In the words of Professor Remus J. Lupin:

Nobody knows what a boggart looks like when he is alone, but when I let him out, he will immediately become whatever each of us most fears.

If a boggart summed up is your worst nightmare, then a freaky clown would probably be the form the boggart takes if I ever encounter one. If you’re laughing, see Bill Skarsgård playing Pennywise the Clown in the 2017 adaptation of Stephen King’s It (no seriously, go see that movie, because it’s absolutely fantastic). Actually, it might be a spider – or a bee (see also: insects, great heights, zombies, moldy cheese, conservative Republicans).

But one of the other forms it could take would be that of the formidable Sellmah. With beady eyes, a rather buxom figure, chipped teeth, grey spaghetti-string hair, and clothing that seems to have missed washing by just several months ago, Sellmah is a sight to behold. But what’s even better is the sound of her voice: like nails on chalk, metal knives on porcelain, the screeches of the Nazgul…  Needless to say, seeing and interacting with Sellmah is not a very pleasant encounter.

One day, in the middle of an insane rush, Sellmah orders a blended mocha, and (angrily) asks if the wait will be long. Given that the store was full of people, the line out the door and circling around the block corner, I’d say she didn’t really need an answer to that pointless question. YES. The wait would be more than 5 bloody minutes. My co-worker rang in her order on the POS and then handed off the drink to be made. As I was starting on her drink, Sellmah had pushed her way to the bar area, and was glaring intently at me as I gathered ingredients. Milk. Chocolate. Coffee. Ice…

It was the moment I was scooping the ice into her drink that Sellmah cried out: “YOU MADE IT WRONG. IT’S TOO WATERY. DON’T YOU DARE MAKE MY DRINK WATERY. YOU BETTER PUT THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF ICE IN THERE!”

Swallowing a retort and an frustrated sigh, I turned around, put on the best possible smile I could manage, and told her I understood. I put more ice in the scoop and moved to put it into the blender, until the Sellmah’s awful voice screeched out again: “That’s not enough ice! You’re trying to give me water. This is unbelievable!”

woman asks if she can mute someone. Points tv remote towards this person and presses button.

I could feel my anger boiling up to the surface, a geyser of unhappiness that could no longer be contained. I hate backseat-baristas with a passion. They’re the worst. No seriously. It’s grating and humiliating. Besides, if you have such a passion to “teach” baristas how to make drinks, GO AND WORK IN A COFFEE SHOP. Or better yet, make them at home, so nobody else has to live through an insufferable encounter with you.

I have to admit that I lost my temper. I threw the ice scoop in my hand violently into the sink, grabbed the biggest one I could find, filled it, and then aggressively chucked the contents into the blender. Afterwards, I turned around, held up the pitcher and asked her with gritted teeth if what I had was the correct amount of ice. She assented, and I blended her concoction, eager to relieve myself of her presence. Alas, it was not to be. After she got her drink, she took a singular sip and announced to the world that I was “incompetent” and had put too much water in the drink. Which I found really surprising, since the drink was so thick she couldn’t even suck anything up through the straw. Yeah. I paid that much attention to her.

Ice is frozen water. Let’s all just take a moment and remember that. Ice is frozen water.

Because this is a customer-driven business, I swallowed my pride and anger, and took her drink back, apologizing and promising to make her drink properly this time. After reaching the ice stage again, Sellmah yells out that she wants me to put in a middle-sized scoop of ice. THE. ORIGINAL. SIZED. SCOOP. OF. ICE. I. HAD. GRABBED. 

Yeah. I was angry. So angry I had to physically bite my tongue to keep from saying anything to her. I finished her drink and she left the store without another incident – for that day at least.

It was a week after this backseat-barista moment that Sellmah returned to our store, ordered another blended mocha and began another nightmare-inducing interaction.

This time round, Sellmah orders and receives her drink without any problems. However, after drinking everything BUT a tiny bit of whip cream, she returns to the cash register to tell us that her drink was “disgusting” and “undrinkable.”

Let’s stop there. If her drink was so “undrinkable,” why on earth did she DRINK THE WHOLE THING???!??

man grabs head with two hands - holds temples out of sheer exasperation

Because we couldn’t really deny her, (see the awful maxim: “The customer is always right”) she got another drink. For free.

Two days later, Sellmah entered the store to request a (free) iced water. As I headed over to the bar to get the ice and cold water, she yells a singular: “are you serious?” I turn to her, absolutely taken aback. There was no way I could have managed to screw up an ice water. Except I did.

Sellmah scoffed at me, rolled her beady little eyes and said to me: “I can’t believe you don’t know how to make an iced water. You’re supposed to put the ice in first!”

She crossed her arms smugly. As if she had just taught me the most important lesson in the universe.

Just so you know, there’s no actual correct way to “make” an iced water. There was never a moment where I wished I was a powerful witch more than that one. Can you imagine the satisfaction of waving a wand, saying the incantation Ridduklus, and watching this awful creature turn into a joke of itself?  

To add insult to injury, the next time I saw Sellmah, which was a couple days after the iced water debacle, my manager whispered these words to me: “Oh, I love Sellmah. She’s one of my favourites because just so sweet!”

Just nope. Nope.

Jayke and the Disappearing Ice Cube

In the Harry Potter world, Cave Trolls are creatures of immense size and brains the size of bogies (boogers – for those of us that are unfamiliar with the British term). It goes without saying then, that Cave Trolls lack the mental acuity to function well – that is to say, they’re rather stupid beings.

What’s great for me (see: terrible) is that my store seems to be a beacon for cave trolls like Jayke.

One morning, Jayke, a physically imposing man with thickset glasses and an alarmingly receding hairline, approaches my cash register and orders a small coffee. There is nothing significant about his order; at least until he hands me his money and adds that he would like me to put in one ice cube. Just the one.

It’s a strangely specific request. Usually, people get a “couple” of ice cubes, or just ask me to splash some cold water on top of their coffee if they’re looking to immediately chug it down or cool the coffee faster. But a single ice cube does none of those things. In fact, it’s a rather pointless addition.

But the day was young (it was 5:15am at the time) and I didn’t really want to start the day off by being unnecessarily petty.

I walk over to the ice storage and scoop a single ice cube into Jayke’s coffee, and then walk back to my register to hand it off to him. Given that the coffee is relatively hot and the singular ice cube is small, it should come as no surprise that the ice had melted before I even made it back to the counter. Common sense, right?

Not right.

As I’m handing off the coffee to him, Jayke cries out that I have failed to give him the ice cube that he has paid for. Let’s get one thing straight: I did not charge him for ice – it was free.

Flabbergasted at the accusation, I explained to Jayke that I had, for sure, placed the single ice cube he wanted into his coffee.

“It probably melted when I was walking back,” I said.

Rather than accept my explanation, Jayke got angry at me and yelled: “I can’t believe this. You’ve shortchanged me my ice and now you’re lying to me about it!”

Of all the things I would choose to lie about in the world, it definitely would not be about whether or not I have placed an ice cube into a coffee. There are better and far grander lies I could be attempting to pull off.

I decided to forgo responding again and walked back over to the ice storage to scoop another ice cube into his drink. Lo and behold, to nobody’s surprise but Jayke’s, it had melted by the time I got to the counter.

Instead of taking his coffee and leaving the premises (aka leaving and saving face), Jayke continued to assert that I was wasting his time by “pretending” to give him ice cubes.

Kat Williams with a bewildered, sassy, EXCUSE ME-WHAT-DID-YOU-JUST-SAY-FACE.

“Pretending” to give him ice cubes??? Seriously?

I tried to tell him that I really had put in his ice cube, and that it had (once again) melted into the coffee on my walk back. Unfortunately, Jayke didn’t believe me and asked me to get my manager.

She wasn’t in.

Quickly, I grabbed my co-worker, asked her to grab the ice scoop, pick up an ice cube and then bring it back over to the cash register so we could all witness the ice cube being put into Jayke’s coffee.

And when we all collectively watched that one ice cube melt into the coffee, the picture of Jayke’s crestfallen and dumbfounded face was priceless. It was almost as good as watching Hermione Granger punch Draco Malfoy in the face in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. 

See? Always satisfying.

Mykel the Foam Flinger

For those of you unfamiliar with Harry Potter speak:

“Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them”
– Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 

Just going off of that description, it’s easy to see that meeting a dementor is a rather unpleasant experience.

Unfortunately for me and my co-workers, Mykel (pronounced Michael in regular human speak) is a regular at my store that sucks the happiness out of life just by being his good ole’ self.

In the two years I have worked as a barista, Mykel has been nothing but awful. My first day of work involved him yelling at me for not knowing his drink, despite the fact that I had never seen him before in my life. He’s also cheap as heck – for the longest time, Mykel would not pay for the drinks he got. He would pay a price of $2 for the flat whites (which are normally $5.20) and Americanos (which are $3.41) that he drank.

I mean, I get it. Coffee is expensive, and feeding a caffeine addiction can be hard on your wallet. But if you can afford to get multiple tattoos, a nice motorcycle, put gas in your truck, own your business  AND buy your partner Pandora charms, you can afford to pay for your Flat Whites and your Americanos.

In case you didn’t have enough reasons to like this guy already, Mykel is also a sexual harassment lawsuit just waiting to happen: he has touched our arms and legs (and before you judge – in places that aren’t normally touched by the handing off coffee or awkward tight-space maneuvering), flirted disastrously, and has made some very undignified sexual remarks about several of my co-workers. But this story isn’t about the fact that he approaches life from the head in his pants.

This is the story about Mykel, the Foam Flinger.

Before you ask, no, that’s not special code for anything. This is a grown-ass man, who decided that flinging foam at me was a good way of solving his problems.

After receiving his “coffee” one morning, Mykel grew angry and disenfranchised by its appearance. He stalked from the bar towards the cash register, plopped his drink down on the counter and looked me in the eye.

“Why can’t you make me a proper flat white? I don’t want all this fucking foam on my drink!!”

Before I could utter a reply, he stuck his fat sausage fingers into his drink, cupped the light amount of foam on top, and FLUNG. IT. AT. ME.

Let’s just take a moment here. 
1. I didn’t make his drink (but that doesn’t mean I wanted him to fling foam at my co-worker either)
2. Would it not have been better for him to fling the foam into the garbage can if he didn’t like it at all?
3. On what planet does flinging foam at your barista get her to make you another drink?
4. Where’s a wizard when you need one? He needed to have his ass expecto patronum-ed.
5. This:
dementor eerily steals happiness from Harry Potter

All the happiness in the world. Just gone. In an instant.

And part of my vision. Gone. There was foam on my glasses.

Mykel took a moment after that foam flinging, looked behind him, where there was a line of angry customers glaring at him, and then moved off to the side. It seemed like he wanted to fling more foam, but was terrified of other witnesses. Or perhaps he wanted to take a moment and reflect on his wrongs. Yeah no, definitely the former one.

While he moved off to the side, I collected myself, from my petrified state, wiped off the counter with my apron, wiped my glasses, and then called the next person up. But, instead of ordering coffee, this customer turned to Mykel and tried to tell him off.

Mykel did not even have the decency to look like he’d been scolded. Instead, he set his drink down on the condiment stand (where we keep the milk, cream, and sugars) and flung some more foam to demonstrate how much of it there was in his drink. Which, at this point, was counterproductive, considering there wasn’t any left. (Probably because he’d expelled the foam from his drink once already.)

I didn’t get to say anything to Mykel before he left the store that day. He got a new drink, one that was EQUALLY AS FOAMY AS THE FIRST ONE, but he didn’t seem to have any problems with it.

Sadly, he’ll be back, and not in the cool Terminator way either. There’s no Arnold Schwarzenegger coolness anywhere near this man.

But thank you, to the nice customer who stepped in and attempted to tell him that his behaviour was unacceptable. You are the chocolate that Professor Lupin gives to Harry Potter after he gets attacked by the dementor on the train to Hogwarts.  You are the reason my soul hasn’t been sucked out of my body in some terrible form of the dementor’s kiss… yet.

How NOT to Talk to Strangers

As part of my New Year’s Resolutions, I wanted to be better at talking to strangers. So, one auspicious morning, while waiting for the bus, I spotted a distinguished gentleman wearing a pair of frankly amazing glasses. I came up with a simple game plan: compliment his glasses, (maybe) get a compliment in return, and then get on the bus and overthink the interaction for the next two days. After an internal pep talk to myself, I swallowed my cowardice and discomfort, approached him and plastered on the best smile I could muster.

“Hi,” I started, “I just wanted to say that your glasses are awesome.”

Though he did thank me for my compliment, the man did not say anything about my glasses. Instead, he uttered the words that no POC wishes to hear. “You’re so articulate,” he says, “…for an Asian.”

Let’s pause the story there. ARTICULATE… FOR AN ASIAN???
-Cue this GIF.


Okay and PLAY. 

He obviously saw something wrong with my lack of response and rapid blinking, so he attempted to explain by saying: “oh, you know, it’s just really hard to talk to people like you.
I immediately replied, “people like me?”
To which he answered, “yeah, you know, people that aren’t from here.”

A little light went off in his eyes, and he excitedly proceeded to ask me: “so where are you from?”

I assumed he wasn’t talking about where I had come from before happening upon this bus stop. I told him I had been born and raised in Vancouver. He seemed rather unsatisfied with my answer and repeated his previous question. “No, really, where are you from?”

I wasn’t sure what else he wanted me to answer. I had already said Vancouver. Did he mean my mother’s womb? The meeting between my mother and father’s gametes? I decided to play it safe, in case the interaction went more south – like to Antarctica. I asserted that I had been born and raised in Vancouver, and he make a noise of disappointment, before moving on.

He asked me: “so, how do you feel about the state of Vancouver’s economy today?” and added, “especially since people like you have been making it hard for people like me to buy or rent any property!”

The apology was on the tip of my tongue. But I had nothing to apologize for. This micro-aggressive asshat was the one that needed to apologize. I mean, Vancouver is just as expensive for him as it is for me.

If you’re wondering about what my actual reaction was to his question, please return to the GIF. There was a heck of a lot of blinking; I could not begin to fathom how offended I was.

People like me were making it hard for people like him. I should have asked him how he felt about the Chinese Head Tax. Or how he felt about the systematic oppression that people like him had lorded over people like me. Or, better yet, how he felt about the genocide and continued mistreatment of Canada’s Indigenous populations at the hands of people. like. him.

But before I could compose a lengthy reply, the bus he was waiting for pulled into the station. He gestured to the bus and made a motion to get on.

He said, “thank you for the wonderful conversation. It is so rare to be able to have a good conversation with Asians.”

I couldn’t stop the next words that came out of my mouth: “Oh my goodness, you’re such a plebeian.”

Lucky for me, this gentleman, despite priding himself on his command of the English language, did not know what the word plebeian meant. Instead, he thanked me graciously for the “comment” I paid him, told me to have a pleasant day, and got aboard his bus.

If ever there was an example of how Not to talk to strangers, this would be it. Not only was this man racist, micro-aggressive (aka masked an insult in a compliment), and completely self-unaware, he also had to gall to possess a pair of good-looking glasses.
And that, might be the worst part of it all. Such nice glasses, WASTED, on a rather terrible human being.

Stranger Danger image brought to you by gabradoodle on TeePublic


Hello there, dear reader, and welcome to hell.

Okay. Maybe that was a little bit too scary. Sorry about that. 

Welcome to Beleaguered Barista, a blog about my encounters with terrible people.

Most of these stories come from my place of work, at a coffee shop somewhere in Vancouver City, and some of them come from my disastrous attempts to overcome my introversion.

You’ll find tales of awful customers in the Monster Book of Customers section – they are organized according to Harry Potter beasts (because WHY NOT?). And you’ll find my failed attempts at human interaction in Stranger Danger.

Sit back, buckle in, wear some socks, drink some butterbeer, grab some chocolate, etc. and have yourself a good time at my expense.