Category Archives: Coffee Shop

Coffee Shop Musings

I usually do my coffee shop paperwork at a table in the corner where I can observe all the goings on during my time there. Interesting, the things you hear.

Customer #1: Do you have grilled cheese sandwiches?

Barista: No, I’m sorry, we don’t.

Customer #1: Can you make a grilled cheese sandwich?

Barista: All of our sandwiches are pre-made.

Customer #1: You didn’t answer my question.

Barista: Sorry, no, I can’t make you a grilled cheese sandwich.

Customer #1: Can’t or won’t?

Barista: Can’t.

Customer #1: Okay, I’ll have an apple turnover and a vanilla latte then.


Customer #2: Can I get change for the bus?

Barista: Sure.

Customer #2: Can I use your phone?

Barista: Sure.

Customer #2: Can I get a small coffee and I’ll pay you next time I come in?

Barista: I’m sorry, we can’t do that.

Customer #2: Wow, you guys aren’t very accommodating here.


Me: (to a group of a dozen or so high school kids who had been occupying several tables for half an hour. Not one had purchased anything.) Hey guys. Are any of you planning on buying a coffee or anything?

Group: (complete silence – they just stared at me)

Me: Because the tables in here are for the use of paying customers.

Group: (still silent)

Me: Okay then. (I turned and walked away, but every single one of them came up to the counter and bought something. Weird.)


Filed under Blogging, Coffee Shop, Writing

How Not to Apply for a Job

I am in the process of hiring additional employees for the fall season. I manage a relatively small coffee shop in a relatively quiet neighbourhood and finding relatively good staff can be a challenge. So I put an ad on Craigslist. Within 24 hours, I had over fifty resumes filling up my inbox, so I removed the ad before I was truly inundated. Out of those fifty plus applicants, I interviewed five people with the intent to hire two or three. And two of those interviewees were absolutely great! So I’m happy.

Several hopefuls did not even make the short-list, however, regardless of the fact that they appeared to have all the qualifications for the job. Here are some examples of what I saw on resumes and cover letters. I kid you not.

1. Hey! I’m a great person and I like coffee. You really want to hire me. (Really? You start a cover letter with “hey”?)

2. To the Manger: Here’s my resumay and I hope you will phone me to come in soon. (Ever heard of spell check? And I am not a “manger”.)

3. Dear Manager, I have no experience but I think I can do the job good. (At least you were honest.)

4. One of my biggest accomplishments was losing 30 pounds in 2004 and I’ve kept it off. (Seriously? I’m happy for you, but this has no place on a resume unless you’re applying for a job at a weight-loss centre.)

Then there were the interviews.

I asked this question: Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with someone and how you resolved it. The responses were – well – interesting.

1. I got this job at Boston Pizza one time and this girl like had to train me and I knew like right away she didn’t like me. You can tell. So I just like ignored her except when I had to watch her do stuff and at the end of the shift she like came up to me and said she didn’t like me at first because I was so beautiful and she wasn’t, but she liked me at the end. And then she asked me if I wanted to go to a party with her and I said like no way was I going there. (The woman was like 35 years old and I was like speechless.)

2. I never have conflicts with anybody. (Please share your secret.)

3. Conflict? What does that mean? (Um . . . what are they teaching kids in schools these days?)

There are the applicants who tell me they have no weaknesses. They are usually the same ones who can’t think of a single example when I ask them to tell me about a time they thought of a way to improve something. And of course, they are very quick to share how much they love dealing with people (except the difficult ones), how well they work under pressure (until there is a lineup at the counter), and how quickly they catch on to new things (before you’ve hauled them into the office again to bring an error to their attention).

Oh, the joys of management.


Filed under Blogging, Coffee Shop, Expectations, Humor, Writing

The Spreadsheet

I’ve had to take a little break from the business of writing because I am up to my eyeballs in spreadsheets – or, as some would say, real work. I won’t mention any names. Have you ever heard that kind of comment? You know, the one you get when you tell people you’re a writer and they say, “So what do you do for real work?” I have learned to tolerate such remarks. And I don’t kick them in the shins anymore.

Back to the spreadsheets. My recent pilgrimage into the management of a coffee shop is actually becoming quite enjoyable. I am in the process of organizing a myriad of electronic files and paper files and no files into something that actually spits out meaningful information. I’ve had to relearn a lot about Excel, since I haven’t used much more than the basics during the past few years. And I am actually having fun doing it. I know, I know, I’m weird. But the results are amazing and my boss is terribly impressed.

In the meantime, I am working on a blog story that is thus far untitled. You can scroll down and read the first four parts I’ve posted here over the past few days. Let me know what you think. I’m also mentally plotting and writing and editing the other two novels I have on the go.

Now if I could figure out a way to spreadsheet a story . . .


Filed under Being Creative, Coffee Shop, Writing

The Sedentary Life . . . or Not

This is a picture of my office chair. The one I sit in when I am writing. Or playing Words With Friends on Facebook. Please note that it is empty – far too empty for far too long and way too often.

At least that’s been the case since I started working at the coffee shop.

Things have suddenly become very busy. My relatively sedentary and mostly solitary way of life these past eight or nine months has burst forth into the kind of hectic schedule I used to consider normal. But because I know that I am far more productive, creative, and motivated when I am busy, this is good. I think.

Work, writing, family. I need to find a new rhythm.

And I will.

But in the meantime, if my blog posts read like some kind of kooky drivel, please bear with me. And I would appreciate it if you would not emulate the woman who came into the shop asking if we made grilled cheese sandwiches and then proceeded to grump and complain when we said no.

You are welcome to ask, but we will say no to you, too.


Filed under Being Creative, Coffee Shop, Life, Writing

Not 18 Anymore

They should give out warnings for people turning 18. Then they need to do it again at 30 and 40 and so on. Why? Because you forget. One day you wake up and realize that you’re not 18 anymore and if you’re not prepared, it can be ugly. Thankfully, I have embraced each new phase of my life with gusto, and this whole aging process has been relatively kind to me.

Until today.

I started my new job as the manager of our local coffee shop (see yesterday’s blog post, The Coffee Shop Adventure) and I was as excited as a little kid on Christmas Eve. Well, almost, but you get my drift. I walked into the shop, fully expecting to love every minute, and I really did! The staff were great – very patient in training me, I must say. What I didn’t anticipate was the overwhelming exhaustion that resulted after trying to keep up with girls who are like 73 years younger than me. Okay, maybe only 30. Or 40. But still.

In between learning how to steam milk (would you like lots of foam?), dish out a cinnamon roll (can I warm that up for you?), and put one pump of chocolate syrup and two pumps of toasted marshmallow flavoring in one medium hot chocolate (don’t forget the whipped cream), I was also running around trying to absorb the business side of the business. Doing paperwork, finding my way around computer applications, looking at vendor information, and reading resumes to set up interviews for next week – ARGH!

Can you tell I actually had a blast?

I did. Loved every single minute. And I get to go back tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.

My brain feels totally stimulated. I am completely satisfied. And even though I am definitely not 18 anymore, I have a lot of valuable work experience and life skills to bring to the table where this job is concerned and that is a really good thing.

But my feet really hurt!

Perhaps I’ll let those 18-year-olds do the running around . . .


Filed under Coffee Shop, Life, Writing