February 24, 2011
Barista: (Nods, leaning on the counter, head just raised) Hey.
Customer: (Scanning the menu board frantically, as if the drink names are being shuffled about) Umm -- Hi -- Yeah -- What's, uh...
Barista: (Looks at the board, raises eyebrows) What's what? We have a lot of stuff. I can pretty much make whatever besides.
Customer: Cool, yeah, cool. Um, well, I was thinking like something sweet. I really like coffee, ya know, but I just really want something sweet too, ya know?
Barista: (With more condescension than intended, but less than he would like) Okay. Well, we have all sorts of syrups. (Points to the board) There is a list. I can make a latte with any one of those, or any combination. Like I said, whatever.
Customer: (Like the menu is in French, unless he speaks French, in which case, like it's in Japanese) Umm... Well what's good? What do people usually get?
Barista: (Like the customer is five years old) Mochas are really popular. That's basically just a latte with chocolate. It can come with whipped cream too. A lot of people like vanilla lattes. Those are probably the most popular. But again, it really depends on what you like. We have all those syrups.
Customer: Well what do you like?
Barista: (Cynically, with all the condescension he can muster) Coffee, black. Sometimes a small cappuccino. I don't every get anything with syrup.
Customer: So should I get a cappuccino then, if that's you're favorite thing? Aren't those pretty sweet?
Barista: (Like a grade school teacher, tending to a petulant class) No. A cappuccino isn't sweet, unless you put stuff in to make it that way. It's espresso, with a little steamed milk, and a lot of foam. The ratio varies depending on how wet or dry you like it. But you don't want that.
Customer: So what do I want then?
Barista: (Pauses, then carefully) I don't know. You said something sweet. So a latte with whatever in it is probably your best bet. I don't know what flavors you like though.
Customer: I like French Vanilla -- Do you have that? I don't see it up there.
Barista: We don't, but I can make it. French Vanilla is just a fancy way of saying a vanilla and hazelnut mix, usually a 2 to 1 ratio.
Customer: Oh -- Then never mind. How about a mocha then?
Barista: (Relieved) Okay then. I can do that.
Customer: (It's just dawned on him) Do you have that in sugar free?
Barista: (Considering lying) No. We have vanilla, hazelnut, and caramel in sugar free. Not chocolate.
Customer: Huh. I probably shouldn't get that then. Lot's of calories. (A pause, like he's seeking confirmation that it's okay, you've earned a treat)
Barista: (Not humoring him) Probably. It is chocolate syrup.
Customer: Then how about a vanilla latte -- sugar free -- and with skim -- and decaf.
Barista: (Is that all?) Okay. (Ringing him up, then making the drink, focusing on the process so as to totally ignore the customer, who is watching expectantly)
Customer: Sorry to have to order something so difficult. (Laughs, fishing for an "it's okay")
Barista: (Not looking up) It's easy enough. (Shouldn't, but can't help himself) It's actually kind of got a name. "Why bother?"
Customer: Huh? What?
Barista: (Pours, hands the drink to the customer) Why bother.
Customer: (Not following) Why bother with what?
Barista: The name.
Customer: Why bother with the name?
Barista: Why bother is the name.
Customer: (Sips) ...
Barista: The drink is, all in good nature of course, sometimes called the "why bother", since, you know, you're kind of getting a neutered version of everything.
Customer: (Wants to be in on it, forced laughter) Oh -- I got it. Yeah, why would anyone order something called that?
Barista: Good question.