Saturday, December 8, 2012

baristas beware

I grew up in the beautiful and hectic city of Chicago. When I was younger, my mother, brother and I tended to move yearly into a new apartment which generally would overlook the great lake, Michigan. Admittedly, we lived in some of the most beautiful apartments that I have ever experienced. Every morning of my childhood there was always one smell in my home that you could count on all day and every single day. At the dawn of every morning there was the pungent smell of coffee brewing.

My mother’s first action in the morning was to make coffee. She would drink a pot before I woke, one after I woke and then throughout the rest of each day. The coffee pots back then didn’t have the cool feature of turning off after being on for a certain amount of time which left my house to smell of cooked, burnt coffee all day. I swore to my mother that I would never become a coffee drinker. I used to watch her drink cup after cup of black coffee and I could not understand the attraction. I think that I somehow associated coffee with maturity and success, but I was still not impressed.

I attended a boarding school for high school and many of my friends started drinking coffee. It seemed like the cool thing to do, but I could not be sucked in. I hated the smell of coffee brewing and was seemingly scarred from the ongoing smell in my childhood home. I resisted becoming a coffee drinker in high school.

I attended college in southern California and many of my newly turned adult friends were becoming regular coffee drinkers. I would watch them in the cafeteria grab their coffee mugs, poor the steaming hot black liquid, add their desire of cream and sugar and look so pleased with themselves. Daily I would hear someone say something to effect of how they couldn’t handle this or that until they had their coffee. I simply did not understand the need or desire. I resisted becoming a coffee drinker in college.

After I graduated from college I moved to the Bay Area and started teaching. Every morning I would arrive at the elementary school that I worked at and all of the other teachers, regardless of their age, held a coffee mug. They would scurry through the hallways and to the staff rooms and refill their coffee between each class. I hated the staff room for the very reason that it smelled of brewing coffee at all times. I was young and I still viewed coffee as something tied to maturity, but I couldn’t force myself to indulge in the caffeinated monster that they called coffee. I resisted becoming a coffee drinker for the six years that I taught special education.  

Once I became a School Psychologist, it seemed almost mandatory that I drink coffee. I was one of the younger staff members and coffee of course is directly linked to maturity and stature in my mind. I tried drinking coffee a few times, but I could not get passed the rancid taste and that damn smell. It made me miserable to even be around it, so I decided to become a tea drinker. I am English so it made sense to me. I bought a coffee maker and loose tea. Each morning I got up to my freshly brewed tea in my coffee maker, poured it into my travel mug, added milk and sugar and headed to work looking like the grown-ups. Nobody was the wiser, except me of course.

What I have failed to mention here is what would happen if and when I drank coffee. Being that I was not an avid caffeine drinker for any other reason than I just wasn’t, coffee had a severe impact on me. I am naturally a very hyper person. Most everyone that I know can attest to this and would prefer that I not intake caffeine which would only heighten my energy level. I certainly do not lack in energy. About once a year I would decide that I wanted to do what all the grown-ups did and I would try to drink a cup of coffee. I always ordered a small or poured myself a half a cup or simply stole sips out an unsuspecting friend’s cup. I would take a few sips and within minutes I was bouncing off the walls and talking without any reservation of running out of breath. Sometimes I would end up jumping up and down, singing made-up insane songs and in general making those around me curious of my mental health status. Of course this was not the desired effect when I considered coffee to be the symbol of maturity and being grown-up. After about thirty minutes of shaking, a quickened heart beat and near psychosis I would start sweating, feel dizzy and ultimately crash. After an hour had passed I was ready for bed. I had worn myself out and was far more tired than when I woke up. Thus, coffee was not the ultimate method of a successful beverage for my need to be productive or remotely act my age. So, I resisted becoming a coffee drinker.

I have often considered the worst job is that of a barista. People that are addicted to coffee tend to need this piping hot beverage in the morning before they demonstrate any resemblance to a nice human being. Given this truth, why on earth would any one person take a job where their sole purpose is to deal with humans BEFORE they have had their coffee? Humans before coffee are evil, grumpy, non-desirable monsters. How could a self-respecting person make the choice to be the one person to deal with hundreds of people before they have had their caffeine fix. My hat goes off to those who have to be the buffer in between a human and their coffee. I don’t understand it, but I sure have respect for those people. I have often wondered if it is scorned barista’s that eventually go to work at the DMV.

It is not that I have been proud in any way that I have never been a coffee drinker. I have enjoyed the leisure of not having to have coffee in the morning or worrying on a camping trip how I will have my daily fix. It is nice on road trips to not have to find the nearest Starbucks the minute I get into the car. Then again, all of the people I have ever gone camping or on a road trip with have been coffee drinkers so that defeats my point.

Coffee is made every day in my house and I cringe each morning as I still despise the smell. I watch people carry around their fancy travel mugs and promote themselves as mature adults with their warm beverage that inherently makes them nicer and apparently I have been convinced. About a month ago, at the age of 36, I decided to become a coffee drinker. I woke up one morning and decided that I now wanted to be a full blown caffeine addict and would drink coffee daily until I needed it daily. I now drink multiple cups of coffee each morning and often in the afternoon. Now, I ask you, WHO DOES THAT? Who decides randomly after 36 years of hating everything about coffee to up and decide to become a coffee drinker? Apparently, I do. I don’t know why I needed another vice this late in my young life, but I have to say, I sure am enjoying it. So suffice it to say, I choose to join the land of maturity and adulthood and have developed a fantastic addiction to caffeine. I am joined the ranks of millions of visiting my local cafĂ© and torturing barista's for they simply cannot give me my coffee fast enough. Mugs up!

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