The Friendly Neighborhood Barista by Erica Smith

I walk behind the bar and start clocking in. Here we go, I think to myself, five hours of hell. 

I put on my apron and make my way over to the bar. There’s already ten cups lined up waiting for me. I start rapidly grabbing milks and pitchers and cups and surely enough I get through a line of drinks. I get a second to breathe and clean up before a mom with her four children puts her order in and again I’m off. 

While making drinks however, there’s much more to do than be a robot on the espresso machine. You have to listen to everyone’s complaints, opinions, and just general thoughts. 

That is the hardest part of the job. It’s not remembering the different drinks, it’s not cleaning everything down before close and it’s not standing in the back doing dishes for an hour.

The thing is you have to make everyone feel validated and cared for and important. And let me just say as an introvert, that is exhausting. 

For five hours I have to stand there with a smile on my face, thanking everybody, even if they just finished yelling at me because their latte wasn’t hot enough. 

On the other hand, the customers are the best part of the job. There are a few regulars who are there all the time that are so kind and appreciative of us. One older man comes in everyday and always leaves us a tip, chats with us and asks us how our day is going. He always has a genuine smile on his face. Once he gets his drink he sits down and starts reading and every time after about ten minutes, dozes off. 

All in all, while some customers treat you like the dirt on their shoes, it’s alright. I take it as a life lesson. Maybe she just found out some horrible news and she wanted this to be perfect to make her feel better. Maybe he just got fired and is so angry at the world and just needs to express that at someone. Maybe this is just their personality. I have come to realize that listening to people and caring for them is a big part of my job. 

In a way, the job has taught me more about people around me in that you never really know what’s going on in anyone else’s life. 

So I guess those five hours weren’t completely hell.

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