Everybody’s Talking

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Just another in a series of things that people say to me that get to thinking.  I’m at my favored chain coffee shop this morning to pick up my morning caffeine infusion and the barista who is there on most days, stops to introduce me to the new shift manager.  Since I’m bad with names, I’ve already forgotten hers, but, to be fair to me, I got sidetracked by the rest of the conversation.

This particular barista is one of those bubbly, outgoing types.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  Always pert and friendly and smiling even in the pre-dawn darkness of a cold winter day right after the store opened.  Yes, I time my work day around when the coffee place opens.  It does give me at least an hour to myself before people come in with their questions and problems.  Need some alone time to function.

Anyway, she says to me that they were talking about me.  This always makes me a bit uncomfortable.  There’s that insecurity that just rises to the top.  Why were you talking about me?  Why would anyone ever want to talk about me?  I’m nothing special.  Just a random person who happens to show up early.  Not worth a discussion.  Hope you aren’t saying anything bad.  Well, you can’t be because you wouldn’t have said you were talking about me when it was bad.  That’s the inner monologue pinging around in my head.

But she says that I’m their favorite first morning customer.  And then the new shift supervisor chimes in with how the first customer sets the tone for the day.  Is this a retail thing?  Is it like some superstition where the whole shift can be ruined if Grumpy Gus shows up first?  And why would I be the favorite.  Again, I’m nothing special.  She goes on to say something to the effect that I’ve got like a calming presence.  Zen and the art of ordering coffee maybe?  Can’t really remember because I’m trying to process all this.

And, as I overthink this, I figure that maybe there are maybe four main customer types that frequent a coffee place first thing in the morning:

  1. The non morning type who can’t function without a caffeine jolt.  OK, this could also be the serious introvert types who really don’t want human interaction.  Maybe those should be two types but its my list and I already came up with four and I’m not changing it.  Anyway, the defining characteristic would be answering in grunts and monosyllables and avoiding eye contact at all cost and simply trying to get in and out with as little interaction as possible.  Mostly harmless but probably not the most exciting way to start your day.
  2. The super stressed out workaholic who has a to do list a mile long and is already behind schedule.  Thinking those tend to arrive later in the morning because who really needs to be at work way before dawn.  But there could be a few.  The kind who get irritated if the barista tries to start up conversation before they’ve finished their order.  The ones who start to shift and sigh in line if there are more than two people waiting.  Most likely to just use mobile ordering to breeze in on their phones and grab a coffee.  Again, relatively harmless – unless you screw up their order and then they will reign hell fire on you but probably just stomp out because they can’t wait for their drink to be made.
  3. The “I hate my job and my life” grump.  The one who doesn’t want to go to work but can’t quit and won’t look for another job.  Or has significant life stresses.  Basically they’ve got a serious hate on for most of the world and that especially includes bubbly baristas.  When you are grumpy and down, the last thing you want is some upbeat person trying to cheer you up.  The Eeyores of the world who bring a cloud of darkness with them that can linger after they’ve left.  Again, you are mostly going to get grunts and simply answers.  Also liable to take your head off if you screw up.
  4. The perfectionist control freak.  These are the people who need to have their coffee a certain way.  They want two pumps of mocha and don’t you dare make it three.  Not interested in conversation at all because they are too busy watching the barista and ready to pounce at any little mistake.  After all, how hard is to make a venti, two pump mocha with sugar free syrup and light whip but with an extra pump of caramel.  A child could make that in their sleep.

OK, I kind of let my imagination run a bit wild there.  I have observed versions similar to this waiting in line (remember I watch things).  I didn’t think I was that unusual.  Just someone who will smile at the people, make some small talk and wish them well as I leave.  Seems like that is setting the bar low to be a favorite but what the heck.

Of course, I got to work and had to rush to the internet and start searching to see if this was something that happens to INFP’s.  I know that not everything revolves around personality type but I’m always curious as to how unique some of my experiences are.  No, I didn’t find anything real helpful other than a few sites that talk about how we can appear calm on the surface.

Maybe that’s just my hidden super power.  The ability to project calm and subtly change the atmosphere in a room.  I did read a book about people with powers based on alchemy (too long to explain) and one type of person did have this power.  Soothers they were called.

Which is interesting because there’s a lot going on under the surface.  We’re like a lake with a calm surface but with the water being opaque so you can’t see what lurks beneath.  I do have some fundamental value at play here.  You don’t own the person making you coffee even if you’ve shelled out $5 for some fancy, flavored latte.  They still deserve to be treated nicely and it doesn’t cost you anything to do so.  And, you might end up being their favorite customer.

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