He made me uncomfortable from the very beginning. Our first meeting on a hectic Monday morning set the tone.
“You wanted a hazelnut coffee?”
“Uh no, I asked for vanilla.”
“Vanilla with just sugar?”
“No actually, vanilla with just cream.”
“Okey dokey. I hope your day gets better.”
Our next meeting was as odd as the first. He took great pains to compliment my earrings. A seemingly nice gesture except that I had just observed him having the same conversation with two women ahead of me in line. Had he been told to engage the customers? Was there a corporate mandate to be friendlier?
At our third meeting, he just sighed when he realized I was in front of his register. Clearly, I was not among his favorites. Perhaps my one word, yet polite, responses offended his sensibilities somehow.
My fourth visit I skipped the line completely and placed my order via the store app. I found myself avoiding his gaze and wondered why he made me so uncomfortable. Surely, I couldn’t be the only one?
Our fifth meeting was unavoidable. I had entered another cashiers line and was about order when a barista needed help. I was forced to switch lines. The tension was palpable, but perhaps it was coming from me.
To diffuse the situation, I found myself engaging more in small talk than usual. The effect was instantaneous. His face lit up and, seemingly encouraged, he proceeded to prod me with questions as the line behind me grew. I failed to notice that he again messed up my order but the other cashier, having just returned, did not.
“Here you go,” she said a few minutes later. “I heard what you ordered. He didn’t enter it correctly.”
Gratefully I took the bag from her, noticing the roll of her eyes as she glanced over her shoulder.
He was gone the next time I came in and I haven’t seen him since. I find myself wondering about his fate. Was he still employed with company, maybe handling something less customer facing? Had he left on his own accord, wanting to more than a cashier at a busy coffee shop? Or was he asked to leave due to his inability to take correct orders while wasting time trying to engage customers? Honestly, I don’t know. But for whatever reason, I find myself relieved that he is gone.