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Does Caffeine Kill Christmas Cheer?

 article about Does Caffeine Kill Christmas Cheer?
2007-12-15 13:17:56

This article belongs to Coffee and Cafe Culture; Political opinions column.

Working at a cafe during Christmas time conjures up images of endless lines, cold customers needing hot beverages, and the impossibly repetitive sound of Christmas music so redundant that one might wish death upon even Rudolph. Grabby, unattended kids make smudgy nose and finger prints on the pristine pastry case.

Everyone is so immersed in the holiday traffic and cheer, they forget to tip because although they have enough money to spend $5 on a large hot beverage, they're too short to tip anyone working on or around the holidays.

The anger, frustration, commercialism, and overall hatred of the holiday season rears its truthful head in the chain coffee shop--impulse buys abound. Generally, customers are always most full of angst on Sunday morning after church. Going to church must be the least peaceful activity for most people, judging from their post-pentecostal behavior--scowls, aggressive driving in the parking lot, and much tugging at uncomfortable clothing are prime indicators of the ultimate disfavor for church.

Christmas, being not only a holy day but a symbol of commercialism and undying debt as well, has produced a marked bout of anger among customers. What about the folks behind the counter? For me, working at the coffee shop is job number three. Usually I would rather be writing, working at my other higher paying job, or spending time with loved ones. Let's face it... on the worst days, I'd rather be yelling at my dog for crapping on the carpet with the ultimate realization that it's my job to clean up the mess.

However, despite all other stresses, I manage to have a calm, expressive face full of positivity and holiday cheer. I'm not a supervisor or a manager, and I happen to like my supervisors and manager--and yet customers always seem to blame me for the store being understaffed after they roll in with a van full of kids. During the busy holiday season, the baristas who make the perfect lattes get no respect.

During the rest of the year, customers always inquire about what it's like to work at a coffee shop and memorize all the beverage recipes...but come Christmas time, they all seem to turn into rushed Grinches. It makes one wonder why people take the time to come into a cafe at all. Shouldn't the cafe experience be partially about the atmosphere, even if the customer only has time to enjoy the relaxing, warm feeling of the store while the barista makes his or her drink?

Then again, these are mere observations from the person who makes your coffee, never expects a tip, and always smiles--regardless of how many people have scowled at her as the result of their bad day. Take comfort--although Rudolph lives, at least Frosty dies in the end of his song, and so soon will melt away yet another holiday season of complaints and drama.

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