1. You’ve felt the sometimes painful, sometimes serene feeling of waking up before the rest of the world. It’s still dark and there’s a cold mist that muffles the anxious tempo of modern life. By the time other people wipe the crust from their eyes, you’re done with half your workday.
2. You know that before 9 AM the line is actually not humans but a mob of zombies whose minds are basically repeating their drink orders in the way that other zombies repeat “BRAINS!” and that you, the bearer of their coveted life-source, are in a position of precarious power.
3. You have secretly nicknamed many of the regulars with your coworkers. Not out of malice, just the absolute necessity of amusing yourself at what is essentially a highly repetitive job.
4. You’ve had to break the tragic news that you are out of soymilk and you don’t carry almond milk, and you also don’t carry rice milk or hemp milk, and you know it’s the worst, and you’re sorry.
5. It actually blows your mind to think about the number of times you’ve uttered the phrases “Hot or iced?” and “For here or to go?” Feels like more times than you’ve said your own name.
6. You know what it means to eat waaaaaaay more scones and drink way more lattes than is the healthy human limit. You know the meaning of opportunism and while some people get private jets and free concerts, this is pretty much your one work-perk, so leave you alone! (With your scones).
7. You know that a mumbler or inaudibly soft-spoken person is ~almost~ worse than a rude person.
8. You know what it means to have to silence someone. There’s chatty, and then there’s gabby, and then there’s wholly-oblivious-to-everyone-behind-you-in-line. Bless their friendly little hearts, but anyone who’s been a barista knows the painful delicacy of cutting off a regular who is providing an in-depth recap of her most recent medical appointments. It’s like “uh huh…yes, gastric bypass surgery does sound complicated….NEXT?!”
9. You’d still take Chatty Cathy any day over the jerk who barks into his cell phone while gesturing bossily to the pastry he wants you to serve him.
10. You’ve had a slow day where you drank about 7 cups of coffee out of sheer boredom and then figured “why stop now?!” and made a latte to top off the crazy and eventually you were talking so fast and smiling so maniacally that customers stepped back a few feet when you addressed them.
11. You’ve spaced out while foaming the milk and done that thing where it sprays into a Jackson Pollock painting on your shirt.
12. During a dull moment, you’ve scarfed a “broken” cookie, only to realize that someone has appeared at the register and you must take her order with crumbs all over your face.
13. If you worked at a super-corporate place, you know the insanity-inducing din that is muzak or generic radio stations. Years later, if you ever hear (insert inoffensive Top 40 “singer songwriter” here) you will start hallucinating that the zombies are lining up for you. However, if you work at a chill place, you know that choosing the music is maybe the single best thing about your job, and that certain things like Nicki Minaj Hour might happen and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
14. You know the special pain of someone waiting until the end of his order to pull out a crumpled, dirty wad of cash, taking his sweet time un-wrinkling each bill and counting out the coins in a meticulous fashion, sometimes even counting out loud as if to add tension to tedium.
15. You know there is an even more special pain for the parent who waits until she gets to the front of a long line and then lets her pre-K child order for himself. Except the child doesn’t know what he wants, so there is a five-minute conversation in which the mom asks, “do you want the red cookie or the magenta cookie? Are you sure, though? Did you see that dark pink cookie, too?”
16. You’ve found yourself engaging in inane and petty gossip about the staff. Somehow it doesn’t feel mean because you’re practically like family.
17. There’s been a time when one of your coworkers has made you laugh so hard that you literally could not compose yourself if someone held a gun to your head, and there are tears forming and maybe you’re quietly snorting, but yet, there is your customer, staring at you like he’s about to flip a table.
18. You value the people who are patient and considerate more than they will ever know.
19. You’ve put in extra chocolate or syrup for people who were nice to you.
20. You’ve accidentally given someone “fat” instead of “non-fat” and felt terrible and then been like, “oh wait, world hunger exists.”
21. You know that nothing is as satisfying as a freshly wiped down pastry case, and that for a small hand to come immediately smearing its little prints on it is like a swift punch in the gut.
22. When you finally made your first foam fern you were so proud you Instagrammed it.
23. Some insanely inappropriate employee has at some point slipped through the cracks and been hired, only to creepily hit on every female on staff and wear shirts that say things like “UHOP – on my chorizo!”
24. You have suspected you’re developing Carpal Tunnel.
25. You’ve been awoken on your off-day at 4 AM by a coworker who is still out partying, begging you to cover his shift. You did it because you knew there’d be some day when you needed the favor repaid. It created a strong solidarity.
26. Your pantry has been filled on multiple occasions with stale pastries. Depending on the income and snobbery of your roommates (God forbid you lived with anyone who called himself a “Freegan”), they likely rejoiced in this habit.
27. You have sung the Dolly Parton song “9 to 5” on the way to work, but with the numbers reserved.
28. Even though you know it’s not their fault for not knowing, you sometimes vainly wish that your customers knew you had other interests/skills besides making their Americanos every morning.
29. You’ve had someone order an iced, no foam cappuccino and just kind of blinked for a few minutes.
30. You’ve had one regular who, despite coming in constantly, is just completely generic looking, and for the life of you, you can NEVER remember his name. Every time, you’ve peered inquisitively at him and been like, “so…Bob, right?” And he’s like “No…Alexander.”
31. You’ve been either asked out by a customer or given that overly-long-lingering-stare that makes you feel violated and/or flattered (depending on the party in question).
32. You’ve at some point started to notice that two of your co-workers were talking just a little too closely, or bumping elbows just a little too often and made nervous predictions about their budding romance.
33. Despite the pay/hours/occasional disrespect, you’ve had mornings where the sun was streaming in, and you were bumping your music, sipping a giant mocha you made yourself and you thought, “Why do anything else?”