reminiscence: adventures as a barista I
While working as a barista at Starbucks Chile I would often come across very intersting people. I figure that when foreigners see a Starbucks, they figure that people working in it will speak English and it probably reminds them of home. For a few months, I was assigned as cashier and I was able to learn the names of many frequent customors. I think as a rule we'd always try to remember, at least in my opinion, it'd be embarassing if you didn't remember someone's name who came into the cafeteria everyday.
There was this one guy who came quite frequently and would always order a grande latte. It was obvious he wasn't Chilean or from my part of the world, I have this knack of guessing where people come from. Since he always came back for his grande latte, sometimes accompanied by a chocolate muffin, he'd share about his life and what he was doing in Chile. He was Australian, working at a mining company and one of his parents were British. At least that's what I understood because when he told me he used Spanish, which sometimes meant he would speak it so fast I'm sure not even the natives understood him. I suppose it was part of his personality, hurried and a bit distracted. I looked forward to seeing him as if he was one of my oldest friends. He reminded me a lot of myself in the mornings: not fully awake until he had a cup of coffee (on a side note, a latte would do nothing to wake me up. I'm a true Brazilian in this sense, I need my coffee black) and a bit clumsy with his things. One time he ordered several muffins and left without taking them, he soon came back and chuckled as he grabbed them. He always shot out of the place, probably late for a meeting.
It's funny how you get to know someone by their routine. He would always ask me how I was doing and also learned that I was a foreigner who had lived in many other places. We weren't friends, because that piece of wood separated my world from his, but it was nice to be a part of his routine. Most baristas or those who have worked as one might agree with me that there's something about coffee. It seems as if coffee allows people to show more of they are. I always remember a scene from "You've got mail," where Joe Fox mentions that the kind of coffee you order speaks volumes about you.
I am not sure if this guy remembers me but I wish I could buy him a cup of coffee and sit down and talk to him. I'd tell him that there were many days that he cheered up my early mornings with his quick chatter, his stories about Brazil and why he didn't have the desire to go back home to Australia (maybe he realized just as I did, how welcoming Chile can be, but that's a story for another occasion)
This goes to show that when we are completely ourselves, without pretenses, we can really make someone's day and impact their lives.