Guess what?

I can make a delicious espresso drink to order! If you give me about five minutes and are willing to taste it in front of me and don’t mind if I take another five minutes to make you another one if it isn’t exactly delicious on the first try.

I work in a bookstore with a cafe. As a manager, I’m responsible for scheduling breaks for all of the associates on the clock, including the cafe workers. For the first few weeks, I was fortunately scheduled to work with bookstore associates who could run the cafe while the cafe associates went on break. This lovely scenario came crashing down around me last week when I was the only person with even the remotest of training in this area available to break out the cafe associate .

And when I say remote, I mean REMOTE. Up to that point, I’d spent half an hour in the cafe making two of the easiest drinks on the menu with another manager. Then all of a sudden last week I’m in the cafe making complicated drinks, the ingredients for which I am not even faintly familiar with, much less know where to find. I believe I held my own – I had customers taste their drink and let me know how it was, and no one asked me to make something else, so I’d consider that a success.

But after that half hour, I was absurdly flushed and jumpy. I thought for sure I was going to screw something up and I felt like I’d rushed around the cafe the whole time accomplishing very little. I looked every bit the Embarrassed Barista that I was.

Since then, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the cafe. I’ve made a little bit of everything, done a little up-selling (of delicious baked goods!), and generally feel less worried that what I’m making is going to disgust my customers. I still tend to exit my time behind the counter a little flushed, but I suppose that will subside as well.

Let’s just hope that I don’t get asked to make a Mint Bliss Frappe (or something to that effect) again. I’m fairly certain the recipe isn’t in the binder behind the counter and I actually had to talk a customer out of it the first night I was in the cafe. That was pretty embarrassing. But he seemed to be pleased with his super-duper easy Hot Apple Cider instead!

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This email option is one of the scariest features of technology. Useful as it may be, oh so many things can go completely wrong.

For example, at a former desk job, two fellow…shall we say…unfulfilled? employees and I often exchanged amusing and occasionally scathing emails throughout the day. Perfectly normal behavior considering we were somewhat starved for creativity and humor in the normal course of our days. I can try to justify it all day long, but I already know my mom is going to glower at the computer screen after reading that I could have committed such a heinous act of ungratefulness. Sorry Mom, your daughter is a rebel.

Anyway. We had a flow going. Read, stifle laughter, hit reply all so that each of us was copied, formulate and type up amusing response, hit send. Often these emails were pithy one-liners so you can imagine the frenzied pace of this three-way conversation. Aside from lunch with these hilarious ladies, this was probably the best part of my day.

Tragedy struck one morning when we’d received an email from the office manager informing the office that we’d all be allowed to participate in the lunch she was bringing in for new title buys. Needless to say, assistants (you know, the ones with no money and so busy we were pulling our hair out and…um…sending pointless emails all day long) were required to buy our own lunches on our own time while the buyers (with plenty of money but also no time) had lunch brought in on the company’s dime. In no way do I fault the buyers for this unfortunate reality, more the company atmosphere in general.

As you might imagine, this email was fodder for a heated email exchange mocking the generosity of the company. All I can say is, thank God it wasn’t me who accidentally hit “reply all” to the original message that had been sent to the entire Merchandising Office and the VP of Merchandising who was scary as all get out. The response went something like this:

“WHOOPEEDOO!!! I guess we’ve been good assistants this week!”

Mortifying.

Seconds later, the offending friend tried to recall the message, but the damage was already done. Once the general cube-farm was alive with muffled laughter and questioning “Whoopeedoo?’s”, the poor girl managed some weak explanation that she’d meant to just email the office manager, who was technically also an assistant…but I don’t think anyone believed her, as the office manager was…not friendly. I think pretty much everyone knew the two people that email was intended for.

Luckily that was considered to be harmless and pretty funny to the office in general, so our friend was basically off the hook. But I will never forget that day! And until the day she quit, she got accosted with “WHOOPEEDOO”s on a regular basis.

Perhaps more embarrassing for me was when I intentionally clicked “reply all” to another company wide email to propose a change in some of the reporting. I thought this was a better tactic than directly requesting the change from the IT person who generated the report because I’d already done that to no avail. I’d also suggested the change to my direct supervisor, who looked at me like I was crazy. No one but the assistants would understand why the change was vitally important – we were the ones having to work the report. Obviously, from the example above, you can see how highly regarded we assistants were. It seemed bringing the entire company into it was going to be necessary.

Unfortunately, I also took the opportunity to rib my “boss” for suggesting that the change was unnecessary. Probably not the best forum for that. I got a quick email back from my mentor/self-appointed God Mother that said, “Not Good.”

Cheeks aflame, I cowered at my desk for the rest of the day. Impetuousness is not something that generally defines my behavior. Maybe I was just in a bad mood. Maybe my assistant buddies were both out of the office that day and I hadn’t gotten my making-fun-of-people fix.

Probably, I’d been denied free lunch.

(Note: I really hate the title I gave this post. Really. But I’m taking a break from filing taxes and I’m just…not in a good frame of mind.)

So I’ve determined that I really do enjoy grocery shopping. It’s nice. I get to spend money and not feel terribly guilty about it, which is always a plus. It gets me out of the house, which I often need a big incentive (like starving) to accomplish. I’m a homebody. But the grocery store is a place of peace for me.

However, there is one thing that can completely ruin a trip to the grocery store: a bad buggy. You know what I’m talking about. You roll the buggy at a normal clip and it sounds as if you are discharging an automatic firearm inside the store. Generally this is caused by gum stuck to the bottom of one of the wheels, or a “flat” wheel, or some other defect involving one (or more) of the wheels. In the grocery store I frequent, the entrance where the buggies are kept has a textured floor (I’m convinced they do this for the specific purpose of making it impossible to tell if you have a screwed up buggy) so I’m already inside the store before I realize I’ve obtained a crappy cart. Turning around is still an option, but with the luck I’ve had in this regard, the next buggy I pick up will probably be screwed up worse. So I just push forward.

Interestingly, it usually happens that I’m the only one of the sixty people crawling the store who happens to have picked up a machine-gun-buggy and I’m convinced people stare and make faces in my general direction for being so obnoxious. So I make efforts to lessen the noise. I lift the handle on the side of the defunct wheel so that the crashing noises are slightly dampened (but rarely silenced). This only works until I start to fill up the buggy with grocery items, then I try pushing down on the handle to see if that affects any change. Nope, only makes things significantly worse. People turn their heads to stare. I blush. And now it really is too late to switch buggies. Not to mention the fact that my entire experience is overwhelmed by the offensive noises emanating from my cart every time I push forward. I slow down.

BANG.
BANG.
BANG.

More like a handgun being fired now. Honestly if I had one handy, suicide wouldn’t be out of the question. Inevitably, I forget something and have to crash back through the store, avoiding nasty looks and jeers from my fellow shoppers. I arrange my hair in front of my face and duck my head. Realize this makes me look suspiciously like a disgruntled former employee toting a firearm and straighten back up.

I adopt a very apologetic expression on my trip back through the store and sigh in relief as I find a relatively short check-out line. Wonder idly if the noise of the buggy will be better or worse as I trek through the parking lot.

Find that it is crashingly worse on pavement but better in regard to distance travelled and lack of echo.

When I finally make it to the buggy disposal area nearest my car in the parking lot, I give the old piece of…junk… an overly enthusiastic shove and hope the resulting damage as it crashes into the cart in front of it is enough to retire the thing for good. Sadly, I realize I’ve probably only managed to further maim my own buggy and damage the one in front of it to boot. FML.

(Note: the FML is as much for the buggy-situation as it is for my current indebtedness to the effing federal government. Fair Tax, people!!!)