Wednesday, June 24, 2009

In Which I Set to Improve the Society of Lines...

Believe it or not, I've found that one of the things Americans find most difficult to do it properly wait in a line. The concept of a waiting in line serves as a paramount example of the success of civilized society. Every part of the line adheres to a social contract. Everyone agrees that the person ahead of them deserves to be served first because they arrived at an earlier time. In a healthily functioning society, free from runs on the bank caused by an ancient investor stealing tuppence from a little boy, lines maximize efficiency and cut down on confusion.
Perhaps society is not so healthy, for I see blatant abuses of the privilege of waiting in line nearly every day. Being a talented register cashier at THE DEATH STAR (the aforementioned coffee shop not far from one of the oldest skyscrapers in Manhattan), I represent the ultimate goal of the line - the person to whom you give your order and your cash in return for fattening goodies and caffeinated beverages that you pretend to be addicted to in order to elicit various responses from your painfully hip co-workers. I here outline some of the vilest offense against good taste, blatant violations of the social contract.
KNOW YOUR ORDER: When you stand in line, you are standing in line for a reason. When visiting THE DEATH STAR, you want expertly steamed milk and bacon-fat coated donuts. As such, take time while you are in line to KNOW YOUR ORDER. Promptly giving me your order ensures that the line moves which in turn ameliorates the healthy flow of society.
HAVE YOUR METHOD OF PAYMENT READY: Here I wish this were a video blog such that I could humorously demonstrate some of the more incredulous transactions I have experienced. Instead, I will list phrases that oughtn't be uttered when you arrive at my smiling, unshaven, sleepy face.
  1. "Lemme see if I have 86¢... in PENNIES."
  2. "Can you break a hundred for this, my $1.90 coffee?"
  3. "I think there's enough money on my gift card."
  4. "Do you accept traveler's checks?"
  5. "Can I owe you [INSERT AMOUNT OF MONEY HERE]?"
  6. "Do you accept checks?"
  7. "I know one of this multitude of credit cards hasn't been maxed out yet."
DO NOT CUT THE LINE: This is in bad form and is considered rude in many circles, including all countries east and west of the Prime Meridian. I include this hint here because of one instance that I must relate to you. Not long ago, a transvestite and his boyfriend (who had just been released from prison) caused a major problem in my store by waiting in front of the register while an entire line of hungry, caffeine-starved customers patiently waited in THE LINE. The transvestite, who was very rude, demanded that I abandon my post dealing with THE LINE to refill his personal mug with hot coffee. I explained how a line worked, and how if he wanted service, that he would have to wait in line until it was his turn to be served. At this, his boyfriend (the one recently released from prison), started directly at me, pointed at me, and accused me of being "A BITCH... you can tell just by looking at him he's a little BITCH!" He was ejected from the store, only to burst in a few minutes later with this: "ANY TIME YOU WANNA GO, BITCH, JUST FIND ME! IT'S GONNA BE BLOODY BLOODY!" At the time, this infuriated me, but now I can only laugh.
"DO NOT USE CELLULAR COMMUNICATIONS DEVICES IN THE LINE": Line time is waiting time. You are there to wait. Here are some of the things you may wish to do in a line that are socially acceptable practices that are not addictive, and do not cause you to stare zombie-like at a tiny screen while cognizant persons still part of the healthily functioning waking world are attempting to take your order:
  1. Read part of a book, magazine, newspaper, &c.
  3. NOTHING - it's a line after all, goshdarnit.
I reserve the right to entirely ignore you when you ignore me. Sure, my company tells me that I need to be welcoming and hospitable, but show some reciprocity! There is nothing that makes my blood boil so quickly (at sea level, see alternate instructions for high altitudes) as a person who approaches the register on a cell phone. You see them fidgeting with their Blackberries reading emails. They scroll through long text conversations on their iPhones. They APOLOGIZE to the PERSON ON THE OTHER END OF THE LINE, when I kindly ask them how I may help them, whereas I get a whispered order whilst the customer's hand covers the receiver so as not to interrupt their conversation. Just don't do it. DO NOT USE CELL PHONES IN LINE!
Using these guiding principles, I'm sure that we can all live in a happier and healthier society, free from obnoxious cell phone abusers and time wasters.
Until next time...
I am very truly...
Your Humble Barista

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