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5 WTH Barista Moments

Let’s face it, when you work with the public — you see a ton of crap.  Sometimes it’s good crap, sometimes bad, and sometimes, you think, “What the hell just happened?”

All walks of life love coffee, it seems, or at least, they pretend to.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking your extra caramel, extra whip latte or frappuccino/frappe/coolatta means you’re a coffee drinker.  You’re a simple sugar-fiend, and you will crash and burn within a couple of hours, making you think you need another “coffee” fix.

What was I saying?  Oh yes — these days, everyone frequents coffee shops.  As someone who loves meeting all kinds of people, I seem to attract the oddest of patrons, who instantly take a liking to me.  For your entertainment, I have made a list of WTH moments that left me wondering if a new season of Punk’d was being filmed.

5. A Big F.U.!

18753-desktop-wallpapers-kung-fu-pandaA customer walks up to my register.  He barely speaks English, but I managed to take his drink order just fine.  I then ask for his name to write on the cup.  His response?  “F.U.!”  Yes, he screamed that in my face.  I was quite surprised and didn’t know what brought this outrage on from this man.  “Excuse me?” I stammer, still trying to comprehend what just happened.  “My name is Fu.  F.U.!” He spells out again.  Ohh, well Fu, in America, it’s not too polite to scream such things in people’s faces.  Hopefully he learned his lesson by now.  Man, was I cracking up for the rest of my shift over Fu.  I was so relieved he wasn’t cursing me out.

4. Alexis the Diva

diva_300Alexis was a regular I had in Nashville.  She is a transgender male who would randomly blow up at people, usually while singing along to Lady Gaga at the top of her lungs.  Though some were caught off guard by Alexis, I had a special place in my heart for her.  I never knew if Alexis was homeless or how mentally unstable she was, but I thought she was colorful and underneath all the crazy, had a wonderful heart.  I often wondered what her life has been like.  The only real reason Alexis is even on this list is because the first time I interacted with her, which is also the moment we bonded, was what she happened to say to me.  She walked up to the register I was on, and with a whole lot of attitude said, “I bet I’m the only person in this place who loves John Travolta and is Sicilian!”  Well, just about everyone who knows anything about me knows I LOVE John Travolta and I’m part Sicilian!  It was just so random and odd that this person would walk up to me and say this.  As soon as I told Alexis that she wasn’t the only one, she loved me from that moment on and her angry tirades were never fired at me.  She called me her Sicilian “Bella Donna” from then on.

3. The Case of the Cracken

crackDuring my first year with the Coffee Giant, there was this one barista who would cover shifts at my store.  When I first met him, I thought he looked familiar, but figured I had seen him around Staten Island.  After all, we all run into each other frequently.  I quickly realized this guy was not in his right mind, and that’s why he looked familiar. I would see him on the bus cutting his toe nails and finger nails occasionally.  Sometimes, I would see him waiting on the bus stop arguing with himself.  This same guy worked for the same company as me, serving customers???  Strange.  But then it got downright disgusting.  It seemed he had a problem keeping his pants up…I mean, they would literally be falling down and he clearly didn’t like underwear.  I would get views of not just his ass crack, but cheeks and all…and not just when he was bending over.  He would just be standing there with his ass out!  Um, health code violation, no?  How was this guy ever hired, let alone with the company for a couple of years?

2. King David: Ruler of the Swifties

taylorswiftOne day in Nashville, I am walking into the coffee shop. Immediately I notice an unusual display at one of the tables.  Is that…why yes, there is a shrine to Taylor Swift, a frequent customer of ours.  Posters, CDs, you name it, and it was there — taking up an entire table in our cafe.  I asked my supervisor about it and she explained King David had set it up. Say no more.  King David is a homeless man who hangs around the Nashville area.  Yes, that’s the name he uses.  Long story short, he began disrupting our customers and my supervisor asked him to leave.  He was not happy.  A few minutes later, he stormed back in and asked me for his iPhone and he wanted a refund on a used mug he supposedly bought.  I explained I didn’t have his cell phone nor did I see it, and that we couldn’t refund the mug since it was already used.  He didn’t like that too much and we went around in circles for quite some time. We had to ask him to leave again.  A little while later, we saw pieces of paper sticking out of one of the trees outside the coffee shop.  Turns out they were letters to our supervisor saying, “I forgive you.”  Quite a day that was!

1. Creeper Chris the Fake Tour Manager

AaronSandy
Aaron Carter and Sandy Lo.

There have been very few times where my life as an entertainment journalist and my life as a barista have collided, believe it or not.  It was more common for it to happen in Nashville with some of the people I interviewed coming in as customers (Taylor Swift, Tyson Ritter, Lauren Winans).  But my two worlds sure did collide in Long Island once — in a very awkward, unwanted kind of way.  I had just interviewed pop star Aaron Carter for the umpteenth time by phone to promote a show he was doing nearby.  His “manager” had asked me to come to the hotel the day of the show.  I found it odd.  It was rare that interviews were done at the hotel when we would both be at the concert venue in a bit anyhow.  To my surprise and anger, there was no interview set up.  Aaron didn’t even know I was coming!  And said manager, who had been calling me after business hours because he was “fascinated by my career”, was not actually Aaron’s manager, but a sleazy show promoter who I’ve come to know as Creeper Chris!  Not only did he not schedule the interview, but he hit on me and wanted me to go out with him after the show.  I contacted Aaron personally and he rescued me in the lobby of the hotel and introduced me to his real manager.  I couldn’t believe the nerve of this guy!  I thought my dealings with Creeper Chris were over after that day.  And I thought wrong.  Creeper Chris showed up at the coffee shop!  I tried to hide, but an unknowing barista informed him I was in the back room.  Apparently, Creeper Chris came to apologize for being inappropriate.  Aaron had actually told him he owed me an apology.  I doubt Aaron told him to stalk me at my job, though!  So scary!

As you can see, these were all amusing moments, and some even alarming, but also moments that made me ask, “Is this real life?”

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