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Bursting my bubble

Living in Wellington affords me the luxury of a liberal bubble, that though strained every once in a while hasn’t really popped. Even some of the worst of our customers aren’t really pinko-hating facists, they just don’t know how to behave. In my years here I’ve never heard anything close to what I’ve experienced in other places. When I stayed at my old friend’s house in Brisbane his flatmates were the worst. Half the conversations were about ‘bloody Asians, or f-ing Indians’ immediately followed by the idea to go get oriental takeout.

Just yesterday I opened up the café and a man came in about twenty minutes early. Luckily for him I’ve started a new routine of firing up the coffee machine first so I can catch this early birds and net a few extra bucks. This guy was not worth it. I took his money and began making his coffee and his idea of small talk was this:

“I would have gone to the place on the corner but there was a bloody Asian inside. I’ve never known an Asian who could make good coffee,” A little chuckle followed met by my stonefaced silence. I was not impressed and made him know it with body language. I know I should have done more, like send him packing with a word of warning instead I told him that we do have an Asian guy working at the café and he actually makes a damn fine coffee. To which he sheepishly said, “oh”. He thanked me before he left, and I didn’t say a word.

It goes to show that there are a mess of people out there who really suck. Maybe when I was a teenager, when I didn’t know shit, I’d drop some kind of slur as an icebreaker because I thought it was funny, but this man was well into his 40s clearly having lived his life truly believing his point of view. It’s mind boggling. I just hope he tried to come back this morning when my colleague was working, and got a good cup of coffee so that his idiotic assumption will be changed forever.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2013 in Customer Jerks, Work

 

Remember who you are!

A common issue, which I’ve mentioned recently, is that customers tend to forget what they ordered. I find it quite strange because when I examine a menu and finally make my decision I can’t wait to eat exactly what I chose to. The same applies to drinks, I know how I like my coffee and I’m a fiend so when the server comes to the table with a long black my hand shoots up immediately. This saves time for them and me. It’s helpful to everyone. So when I take coffees, or meals to a table, state what kind they are and am met with blank stares, I get kinda pissed off. I don’t have time to stand around while you gawk at me. There are 30 other people in the café waiting for my service so take your goddamn latte!

The other day we had a booking for a 25 person breakfast. They were well organised, and pre-ordered the day before so we could get our stock right and have them eating at 8am sharp. They arrived on time; we made drinks everything was going swimmingly. They had also put names with each order so all we had to do was shout out ‘Sarah!’ and Sarah would gives us a wave. Then there was a slight hiccup with Phil. That is his real name because this incident made me so angry I don’t want to keep it hidden.

Phil sat down opposite another Phil. Let’s call him Phil 2 to avoid confusion. So my boss, Ursula (for this story), is running around delivering breakfasts when Phil’s comes up. “Magnificent Scramble for Phil,” she declares proudly over the clamour. Both Phil’s look up, Phil 2 sees scrambled eggs and goes for it. Next up is standard scrambled eggs on toast, side of mushrooms, still damn tasty, for Phil. As the plate descends Phil says, “I didn’t order that,”

“Oh,” says Urusla, “what did you order then?”

“The magnificent scramble.” Ursula looks over at Phil 2,

“You mean the one he’s eating?”

“Is that the magnificent scramble?”

“Yes,” Phil 2 notices the conversation and looks up at Ursula, she turns to him and asks, “What did you order?”

“Scrambled eggs!” Phil 2 says happily, toast stuck in his teeth. Ursula realises the confusion and tells Phil she’ll fix it up and get another Magnificent Scramble on the way. She turns and leaves to get it sorted.

Phil then gets up, makes his way to the pass between our bar and food cabinet and tries to get into the kitchen. Ursula stops him and asks what he’s looking for. He then says,

“Look sorry, but I don’t like scrambled eggs. So I’ll just pay for my coffee and go.”

What. The. Shit. There are so many things wrong with this I couldn’t but drop my jaw before bursting into maniacal laughter at the time. Why would you order something with ‘scramble’ in the name if you didn’t like scrambled eggs? What are we going to do with the extra meal that no one wants because you, in your brilliant ignorance, can’t even get your order right?!?!?! What makes you think you can just waltz into our kitchen? Gah!!! The cherry on top then came when he explained that the same thing happened at another breakfast the two Phils went to a week ago. What’s the old phrase? Make the same mistake twice and you’re officially one of the stupidest customers we’ve ever had? Surely the logical lesson learned would be to put an initial next to your names for pre-orders. Or remember what you ordered. Or read the menu properly.

We let him pay for his coffee and stroll out the door, even though he should have paid for the wasted food. Trying to get that through his thick skull would have been too much trouble than it was worth on a morning that was extremely stressful without the big group anyway, let alone the confusion that threw everything out of whack because Phil didn’t know what he was doing. So fuck you Phil.

Note: I don’t know what it is about 50+ plus men who think they can just walk into our kitchen with ridiculous demands. We once had some ass barge in and start harassing the chef because he’d waited 5 minutes for a cooked breakfast. I really want to know what world these people live in. It’s fascinating.

Note Note: I’ll write something nice next time. Maybe.

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2013 in Customer Jerks, Work

 

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No alterations!!! pt.1

I don’t understand how people can’t read menus. Okay sometimes you’re a little sleepy and don’t notice something, but when it’s pointed out to you the thing to do is admit your mistake and amend your decision. Don’t argue, menus are written for a reason. It’s why we don’t have a buffet. If it was a create what you want type deal we’d say so.

We have two combos since we noticed certain orders gaining in popularity. One is a Dog n’ Beer, the other a burger, fries and coke. Each is for $20. They are not interchangeable. If you wanted to sub your beer for something else cheaper you may as well not get the combo. You cannot get a different beer. Thems the rules.

So today some asshole decides to try and bend the rules asking for the Dog, fries and coke. This is one hell of a deal if you break it down and we had to explain to him that no, he can’t do that. He then started kicking up a fuss saying that it wasn’t overly well explained on our menu even though the line reads;

‘Dog n’ Beer or burger, fries and coke for $20’.

That’s pretty damn clear. He then through a fit, complaining that the coke and burrito combo charges him $5 for the coke, but we wouldn’t do that. It would be $4 as it says on the menu. My waitress explained this to him and the smart ass response was,

‘at that price you may as well be wearing balaclavas.’

This is where I draw the line. I’m sorry but we don’t have time to fit our overheads into the small print. We also shouldn’t have to explain the fact that you’re paying for a service as well. If you don’t want to pay then go to the dairy down the street. You won’t be saving that much money. Working in hospo means I earn next to sweet nothing for a lot of hard work, a lot of it dealing with assholes like this guy. I never complain about prices when I go out. Maybe it’s because I work in the industry, or maybe because I don’t take shit for granted. What’s more is the people who tend to complain about prices are the same who don’t bat an eye when they buy a beer for the price of a bottle of wine at Friday work drinks. If you can afford a different suit for each day of the week you can afford $4 for a fucking coke.

 

Note: If you don’t think our pricing is fair go somewhere good. Like McDonald’s. And choke on your savings.

 

Double note: I’m making up names a lot here. Apart from McD’s.

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2013 in Customer Jerks, Work

 

What?!?!?!?

Yet another thing that drives me insane is when customers come in and demean me with their superior attitudes about everything. I don’t mind if we’re talking about say, accounting, and they happen to be an accountant and school me a little on my knowledge of depreciation. What I do mind is when they tell me what is going on in my job.

The top ranking piss-me-off action is when they try to swipe their card. Most of the time people get it the wrong way round, and the little picture on eftpos machines is confusing. Plus no one machine is the same, each one has their quirks. So don’t tell me how to use my own goddamn till! Usually they swipe and I say, “strip facing me.” They then bungle it and proceed to turn the card around and swipe. And swipe. And swipe before complaining that something’s wrong. I then say once more, “stripe facing me,” to which they respond, “I already did it that way.” Now it might be my paranoia, but there is an inflection in their tone that screams things like, ‘how could you know?’ or ‘yeah right, you don’t know how to use money machine things,’ etc. and it drives me nuts. Why would I tell you the wrong thing? Why would I give you information to slow down the transaction? I want your money for my service, and as fast as possible at that. So listen to what I say about something I deal with eight hours a day and fucking do it. Don’t argue, just say, ‘ahhh ok.’ If it’s still giving you grief just hand the card and keypad over to me and I’ll nail it in one it’s just most of the time I’m juggling about four different tasks to be bothered holding your hand.

Next in the rankings, though not necessarily second is when new people ask if we are Espressodog (not real name). That place closed two and a half years ago. When informed they look at us in disbelief. Sometimes they even say, “oh well I must be in the wrong place,” turn and leave only to come back two minutes later with whoever they’re meeting. Some ass the other day ordered a takeaway coffee. When given the cup he looked at the label and said, “didn’t you guys used to be Havanut (not real name)?” I furrowed my brow in confusion and asked, “here in Doghouse (not real name)?” “Yeah,”

“Um, no we’ve always used Superbeans (you know the drill),”

“I’m pretty sure you used to be Havanut,”

“Nope. In the two years we’ve been here, always Superbeans,”

“Are you sure?”

No. I’m not. I’ve only been here since the goddamn opening. I’ve only been making the same coffee for the past two years. I only work here almost every day! I’m just lying to you for kicks, and when you leave we’ll all laugh and say, “ha! Fooled that sucka! We totally used to rock the Havanut coffee! We got him good. High five!” No. Trust me, I’m a barista.

That’s all I have time for today. Some people are just…

Note: As an extra some lady came in and asked us to describe the flavour of our rice cakes. We said, ‘well its tomato, rice, egg, cheese, mushroom tasty savoury goodness.’ She didn’t get it and wanted more description. What? It’s fresh on the nose, with a lingering hint of umami on the palate? There’s also herbs in it. I’m not gonna make up some bullshit frozen foods blurb here. It’s a rice cake for $4.50. Gah!

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2013 in Customer Jerks, Work

 

A little on planning…

 

One of the big ideas for my solo trip around the world was to hit Toronto for the film festival. I don’t why I decided to do this. I had just gotten out of university with a fresh degree in media and film, but why I chose the Toronto Film Festival I’m not entirely sure. Past me had some interesting ideas.

 

I had spent the week before in Vancouver and Victoria catching up with old family friends of mine from my time in Saudi Arabia. It was a fun, and the closest thing to home I’d experienced since leaving Wellington three months before. I was still living as cheap as possible, and finding it more difficult since I’d left South America. I’d formed a habit of not really planning anything so the day before my flight I quickly got online and booked a night in a hostel confident that one of my couchsurfing requests would get back to me once in Toronto. Turns out I fucked up royal.

 

The night of my arrival there was a rock concert which had booked out almost every motel, hotel and hostel in the city. I landed at around 10pm and headed straight to the information desk as is my usual port of call when I arrive anywhere. It was run by volunteers who had gone home for the night fifteen minutes earlier. So I went to the airport book store and consulted a map of the city. In my haste with booking my hostel I had written down the wrong street and found myself memorizing instructions to the completely wrong area of town. I was also tired so my memorizing skills sucked.

 

I nervously jumped on a bus to the public rail station, unsure of what the hell would happen that night. The station was packed with people so I became even more nervous. I tried to make sense of the timetable and maps, but couldn’t find where I had to go because of my poor writing skills. I then decided to call the hostel only to find I hadn’t scrawled down the number! I know. Face Palm!!! So I jumped on a pay phone, took out what loose change I’d acquired and got a hold of the operator. I asked for the Canadiana Hostel and was redirected to a hospital. I spent a good fifteen minutes trying to communicate, but the operator insisted the place didn’t exist. Frustrated, I gave up and left the station in search of a taxi.

 

I spent the next gruelling half hour going from motel to motel only to find each one fully booked. I got so desperate at the last one that I offered to pay to sleep in a broom closet. The owner was not sympathetic. In the end I got the taxi to drop me off at a fancier hotel near the station. I paid for two nights at the hotel so I’d have enough time to find the Canadiana Hostel properly and potentially hear back from couchsurfing. I lost more money in that night than the whole two weeks I’d had in Nicaragua. I also learned a valuable lesson in preparations and back up plans. I do enjoy jumping into the deep end, but that’s only really possible with enough money and in the right areas of the world.

 

As I’ve written before you can, in low season, arrive in a town anywhere in South America bar some of the capitals and get a bed. Same goes for South East Asia. The only place we had difficulty with was Vientiane, and that wasn’t because rooms weren’t available we were just a little picky. Then again part of the adventure of travelling is throwing caution to the wind. I have come close, but haven’t had to sleep on the street yet.

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2013 in Canada, Toronto

 

Messing with macho-ism

Messing with macho-ism

 

One of my favourite things to do to keep myself sane at work is to mess with the blokey bloke blokes when they come up to order their blokey bloke drinks and stuff. Most of the time I can’t stand the arrogant pricks so treat them the way they wanted to be treated; with a stone face and a short temper. I can’t stand how middle-aged men think they can waltz around with their alpha male attitudes and expect everyone to bow down around them. I don’t think your jokes are funny. Yes I can afford a razor; I just don’t have to shave for my work.

A common thread for these people is the ‘girly’ drink. Four bloke blokies rock up to the till and the head bloke booms over the rest, “right I’ll have a flat white, um what you want Ferg?”

“Long black,”

“Right a long black, and you?”

“A soy decaf latte,” chuckles abound. Ha ha.

“And old shiela here will have a soy, what was it again?”

“Decaf latte,” the new boy says in a sheepish voice.

“Yeah, some poofta drink.” This asshole then proceeds to shove his credit card in our face and turn to continue some inane conversation that can wait for the table. I can’t stand these people, and most often my way of getting them back is to make the ‘girly’ drink first and take my time with the others.

Our café doesn’t use normal table numbers either. Instead we have fingers puppets, fake flowers, toys and other knick-knacks which we give out. Most people take it humorously. I like giving the blockiest blokey bloke-times a table stand that’s a pink rose. I’ve actually had blokies respond with, “really?” or “can I have another one?” or even, “I’m not touching that.” Some of these shitheads even refuse it in their chic salmon pink shirts.

It’s not a handful of men that behave this way either, and that’s the alarming thing. For me it’s a great window into corporate New Zealand to know I don’t want to be there. It’s also a painful reminder that we have a long, long, long way to go as far as teaching people to be non-dick-moves humans goes.

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2013 in Customer Jerks, Work

 

Why you gotta be such a…

I work in a cafe in the CBD of Wellington and I have to say the behaviour exhibited by a large amount of people astounds me everyday. I really wish there was a website where we could rate customers. Maybe in the future when everyone is chipped and scanned upon entry into every building. Then we’ll get our own back I’ll tell you what.

Today we suffered an example of people just using us as a pot to piss in (metaphorically of course). I don’t mind it when someone walks off the street and politely or even better, well-flustered, to use the toilet. I don’t mind it if some over tired, stressed looking individual just wants a drink of water. Most of the time I don’t mind if people come in asking for change for the parking meter. But we aren’t a damn bank. We have a float, and only a certain amount of coins in the till. If we don’t have change, we don’t have it. Don’t get pissy at us because you don’t keep a few spare dollars lying around in the glove box like a sensible person does. I know that in this day and age for a credit card accepting parking meter to break down is ridiculous, but shit still happens. Be ready for it!

The worst are those that waltz on in, take a seat and start having their mid-morning meeting. As happened today a man and a woman walked in, all nice and fancy like and sat down. I was on break, and we were quiet but this is the principle damn it! So staff one goes over and asks if they want anything. “No, we’re alright.” Then I get back and I’m like, ‘what’s going on with those two there?’ so I ask staff two to go over and ask if they want anything. He informs me he has already and they didn’t want anything.

So I do the normal thing seeing as they’ve sat in the cafe for a good 20 minutes without buying anything, and lunch is coming up around the corner. I approach them, smile and ask, “Hey, you guys in for lunch today?” The woman gives me this incredulous look that screams, ‘stop interrupting us this is so ridiculous it’s comical’. Well I’m sorry for trying to do my job. The man gets his tough face on and says, “no.” So I’m like, “well you don’t want any drinks? Coffee?” “No, we’re alright.”
“So you don’t want anything?”
“No.”

I make a confused face, narrow my eyes and say, “Ok…..” and wander off.

I don’t understand what makes people think this is acceptable behaviour. Never has it crossed my mind that I can just use a cafe for a free meeting place. It’s just rude. We aren’t a park bench. We pay rent, and lots of it so no, you can’t just use our space for nothing. We’ve got a problem with smokers as well who feel they can just sit outside and leave their butts everywhere. Is it me or have the grand majority of people been raised to consider nothing outside their own two square feet?

Note: After the incident I drew up a short temporary tenancy agreement for any schmucko who decides to pull the same stunt again. Just because you wear a tie and lanyard to work doesn’t mean the world owes you shit.

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2013 in Customer Jerks, Work