“No, mom! Don’t talk to her, ask that guy over there, the NICE one.”
I am her, and at that point in my day at work, I couldn’t give less of a crap about the woman saying it. I believe I caught a glimpse of what has to be the tenth circle of hell that Dante was too scarred to write about. That circle where you’re working in a busy coffeeshop where nothing works and it never stops being 1 o’clock in the afternoon. It has to be, because it surely made me find Jesus again.
The shop I work at is located right in Center City. We have many times when we’re slammed with customers and everything is hectic. It’s to be expected. I wouldn’t work in food service if I couldn’t handle chaos. And to be honest, I kind of crave a good amount of chaos in my life; I wasn’t hugged enough as a child, sue me. But I have never felt as overwhelmed at my cafe as I was this day.
The best part of weathering a shitstorm is that by the time you’ve absolutely had enough, things finally die down and you look at the time to see that there’s only 5 minutes left in your shift. Time moves in hyperdrive when you’re too frazzled to pay attention to it.
By the time I served what seemed like about 100 customers, I look at the clock to see that only a mere thirteen minutes had passed since the last time I had checked. This is defying all rules and principles of madness. How is this happening? What cruel joke is this? Every time I desperately look at the time, none has passed me by.
It’s the worst kind of misery. Every fiber of your being wants to ball up in a corner and sob, but you know that won’t stop the gremlin-esque, caffeine-lacking customers from still needing things and yelling at you. And then you’d have a puddle of tears to mop up, and you’re already tip-toeing around the lake of spilled Half and Half nobody has been able to clean that a customer dropped earlier. So you push through. You feed the gremlins. With all the rapidly depleting energy you already don’t have. And they are blatant in their utter lack of appreciation. Somebody ordered a slice of cake.
It was the last slice of cake on display. and I plate it for the customer and start taking away the cakestand to wash it.
“Hey. Hey! EXCUSE ME!”
I turn around to see who’s screaming. It’s the same guy who I just served the slice of cake to.
“I want the crumbs.”
“I want the crumbs.”
Really, sir? Sir, whom I understand can see. With two perfectly functioning eyes that must clearly see me and my coworker drowning in the sea of demands being thrown at us by other overbearing, entitled, rude and hungry patrons, such as yourself. And upon receiving what you asked for in a timely manner, despite the horde you had to fight through to get it, you decide, You know, these poor souls just don’t seem like they hate their lives quite enough. I need the scraps off of the cakestand that they don’t have the time to return to because there are meals going cold that need to be run to tables and lattes that need to be crafted and only two pairs of more than full hands to do it all. Yes, the crumbs. Nothing is of greater importance and I must have it now. Really, sir?
I walked away. Yeah. I am only human, and I have my limits. If I didn’t ask my coworker to handle it, the situation would have gone very differently, and I would no longer have a job. Heck, I would no longer have my freedom for a while.
And I look at the time again. 1:23pm. This isn’t right. Last time I checked the time it definitely said 1:37pm.
Son of a…
This happened about a year ago and I still remember it vividly. It was possibly the worst day of my entire working life, let alone that job.
No.. I didn’t. I may have wanted to briefly, but our street was closed for construction and there wasn’t any traffic to walk into.
But if you ever ask me how things are going and I tell you, “Life is asking me for crumbs,” you’ll understand where I’m at.