Sometimes–no, that’s not right–most times, the most complicated drinks we make are employees’ drinks. This is a natural extension of having access to everything, coupled with pretty much all the free drinks you’d care to consume. If you don’t like it or it doesn’t work out, you just make a new one. Not all employee drinks are complicated (my own is incredibly simple: four shots of espresso over ice) but often they’re very specific. For example, I worked with a guy who would get a “green tea lemonade with 12 ice cubes.” Naturally, I played fast and loose with that recipe and often gave him 9 cubes, or 15.
A few days ago a pair of women came in. They were very involved in their conversation and it took some effort on my part to break in to help them.
Chatty Cathy:”Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little, cheep cheep cheep, talk a lot, pick a little more.”
Talkie Tillie: “Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little, cheep cheep cheep, talk a lot, pick a little more.”
Chatty Cathy: “Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little, cheep cheep cheep, talk a lot, pick a little more.
Talkie Tillie: “Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little, cheep cheep… Oh. Hi.”
Me (smiling my special smile for customers who are particularly self-absorbed): “Hello. How are you today?” I like to take my time in these cases, slow down and get to know the customer a little better. Okay, mainly I like to take up as much of their time as I can to interrupt the constant chatter.
Talkie Tillie: “Um, good. Thanks.”
Chatty Cathy: “Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a lit-”
Me: “So what I can I get for you today? A delicious caffeinated beverage, perhaps?”
Talkie Tillie: “Oh. Um. Let’s see… I guess I’ll have Some Kind Of Foofy Girly Drink That Doesn’t Have Much Coffee. And make it skinny.” She turns to Chatty Cathy and says, “I’ll get yours, too.”
Thankfully, we avoided the usual “No, I’ll get my own” “No, I’ll get yours” back-and-forth exchange. Pro-tip: When your companion offers to buy, let them. They either really want to buy your drink or they’re going to expense it. It’s not worth arguing about it.
Chatty Cathy: “Oh, okay. That’s so sweet!” She looks at me and says, “I used to work here, so my drink is really complicated.”
Having heard this phrase often enough to know what it can mean, I mentally prepare for a well-rehearsed rapid-fire delivery of her drink recipe and pray that I don’t fuck it up.
Me: “Okay. What are you having?”
Chatty Cathy: “Okay, so I know this is really weird, but it’s a Standard Drink Just The Way You Normally Make It Except With Two Raw Sugars In The Bottom Before You Pull The Shots. Got That?”
Me (trying not to laugh at the complete lack of complicated that is her drink): “Yep, I think we can do that for you.”
You want complicated?
I know one employee who only gets her special drink from people she works with who have learned how to make it, or she makes it herself.
We have one regular who has developed a drink that, he says, tastes like Creme de Menthe. It uses pretty much all the syrups we have, in amounts ranging from 1/4 pump to 1 1/2 pumps. That is a complicated drink, and he’s really gracious even if it’s not perfect.
A woman came in just a few weeks after I’d started at my current store. She was very specific:
“I want, in a medium iced cup, four shots of espresso. First, put in three pumps of vanilla. Then, add four Splendas. Do not stir it, shake it or move it around. Then, add the four shots. Do not stir it, shake it or move it around. Then, add ice. Do not stir it, shake it or move it around. Then, add heavy cream. Do not stir it, shake it or move it around. I do not want a lid or a straw.”
She insisted that I number the steps on the cup and explain it to the barista. Once it was made, she carefully walked over to the condiment bar and added several packets of sugar and some half-and-half. She did not stir it, shake it, or move it around. Then she left, holding her drink out in front of her as if it contained nitroglycerine. Except she would occasionally stop to sip from it, which I don’t think she’d do if it were a liquid explosive. Or maybe she would.
We still laugh about that one.