espresso

Crumbs

“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’m sorry?”

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.

I’m kidding.

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.

 

 

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Rival Bros.

Rival Bros is one of my favorite coffee shops. I wish I could make it over to the store more often, but it’s a little out of the way, being located at 24th and Lombard and all.

rival store front

I discovered them at the Manayunk StrEAT Food Festival, and the latte I got was fantastic. I was talking to the guys in the truck while they made my order as well and they were super pleasant and informative and whatnot. As I do with all of those food festivals, I followed them on all the social medias, and I later discovered that they were working on opening a store. I was excited to visit when they opened, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Coffee

As I already knew from the truck, the coffee is great. My latte is smooth with no bitterness, the vanilla is subtle but very…there, and the espresso is pronounced well and not overpowered by the vanilla or the milk. Look at me, trying to explain coffee like some connoisseur. I don’t really know what I’m talking about, and I don’t speak barista so don’t yell at me. The coffee is good. And their mugs are nice.

Service

The baristas who work there are friendly. I like harassing employees at food establishments, so I like talking to people, but they’re a little more to themselves except when conversating with the regulars. Nothing wrong with that, and it might just be me. I’m socially awkward even though I enjoy throwing myself into social situations. But yeah, I never got the vibe that I should attempt small talk with them. They are very informative and know their coffee though, and they are always helpful in answering questions and figuring out what it is you want when you don’t really know what you want.

Variety

Rival Bros has a decent menu. They have espresso drinks I’ve never heard of, mainly because I’m just barely past a Starbucks level understanding of coffee. Their menu is very simple, and they have more offerings than what is displayed, and if you ask the baristas about more things, like flavors for lattes and whatnot, they’ll tell you more. And they have food! And pastry! And it’s good. I had a chocolate croissant once and I was pleased. They have sandwiches and even ice cream! Well I don’t know if they’ll be serving ice cream throughout the fall and winter, but they might. Because they get their ice cream/ice cream sandwiches from Zsa’s Ice Cream, which if you haven’t had, you should have. Oh, and they get all of their foodstuffs from High Street on Market, so yeah. Good stuff.

Atmosphere

I get good vibes from Rivals. It’s a small space, but I don’t feel cramped unless there is a ridiculous amount of people who refuse to leave, much like myself. That happens, but not too often. There’s a decent natural light coming in, and they use darker colors, like navy and gray. It puts me in a more focused, but deeper mood, and if I get the idea to write about something more serious, I go to Rival Bros. And not necessarily more serious, but even just more peaceful topics with less tirades. I actually find it difficult to be funny there. Or at least not in the erratic direction my humor usually starts heading. It’s too sophisticated of an atmosphere in there, and if you have to think really hard to produce nonsense, it’s just not meant to be. My post, Nobody’s Immune was written at Rivals. So yeah. I have not fully evaluated the space, and I always end up sitting at the same table, but there’s an electrical outlet right there, so I always have power. I believe there’s an outlet by the couch they have as well. The seating is comfortable. And there is music, but it isn’t too loud. I actually haven’t listened to it much before putting on my own tunes, which is weird, I usually listen in. So I can’t tell you if the music is questionable with bizarre lyrics about counting freckles and eating mayonnaise, so sorry. I’ll pay attention next time I go. But me having no memory of the music should be considered a good thing, because oh my goodness some places and their playlists! It’s such a mess.

Restroom

Uhmmm, so Rival Bros’ bathroom is a freaking work of artness. It is beautiful. You almost want to walk somewhere else to another bathroom so you don’t make it less nice. I walked in there feeling like Doge.

Such toilet paper. Very soap. Much clean. Amaze.

It means nothing, but their bathroom has two trash receptacles. TWO TRASH CANS. I don’t know why I noticed or why I cared, but yeah. There’s two. And I never know which one to use. So I use both. Don’t judge me. So the bathroom is really nice, okay? Feel free to pee there. I’m done with my review. Go there. The end.