My favorite part of being a barista [which I have been since I was 17] is interacting with regulars. Such a strange relationship: I feel like I know more about my regulars than their own best friends do--seeing the same person every day at the same time and talking about the mundane, and not-so-mundane, can be an extraordinarily intimate experience.
Because it's nearly an anonymous relationship, and can be cut off at any time, I think people feel a lot more comfortable sharing the depths of their souls with their barista than their siblings or negligent spouses.
I guess it's kind of like blogging that way. Ergo, I love it.
We have some pretty outstanding regulars at my new place of employment.
3 things that made me smiley today:
1. I think his name is Alexander, but he bears a fortunate resemblance to Jack Kerouac. He comes in with his two ridiculous children, wears thick black glasses, tips well, and dead-pans his entire order.
Today: "Oh good. You use Metropolis? That's great, yeah that's really great. Yeah. I take no comfort in supporting that fascist Intelligentsia."
Smiles all around.
2. Old Man Charlie is the most dramatic tip-giver I have ever seen. He leaves a $1 tip for his $1.80 coffee, which is very sweet and quite generous but not altogether uncommon. But you'd think he was tithing his final savings the way he so ostentatiously presents his dollar, and it always makes me mentally crack up.
There is an obvious tip jar right in front of him, but Old Man Charlie insists on handing his tip to me. Which is kind of ridiculous, because then I just put it in the jar. Only yesterday, I was busy, so he waited until I was looking to stick it in, with a lot of trouble so I'd be sure to observe.
I'm going to start playing my own game with him: watch him carefully until he's about to throw in the dollar, then turn around really quickly and see if he still does it. I bet you all my weekly tips that he doesn't.
I am terrible. I am also hilarious.
3. Small-Coffee-In-A-Medium-Cup is a graceful [Northwestern] professor woman who looks just like Arpana Singh. She speaks with that gorgeous lilt specific to India, the kind that makes everything she says sound like a poem about springtime.
Today she said, "Oh dear, it is already 9 o'clock and I am late for my class," with such beautifully heavy syllables that they seemed to linger on the floor long after she parted.
Then she asked with deep concern, still smiling as always, "Do you think it proper to take a taxi for only three blocks?"
I said, "Yes, I think it is perfectly proper!"
[What a great way to ask a question! Do you think it proper...]