This of course doesn't include my original dreams to be a marine biologist (should learn how to swim first) and being a superhero (if I was one, I wouldn't tell you. I'm not like Doogie Howser).
Working as a barista (almost) is like being a superhero in one way though: I'm finding that I lead a double life.
But somehow when I'm at work, I transform into someone with super(extroverted)human powers.
This came to mind the other day when a customer asked me about a party I went to and I said something along the lines of: "I didn't really like it...because I don't really like people."
He gave me a very strange look. Understandably.
I have a good friend of mine here who is nice enough to invite me to her parties, but she always prefaces her texts with "I know how much you hate parties and groups, but--" It's nice to be invited regardless and extremely considerate of her to take the pressure off the invite at the same time.
Here is how Super(extroverted)human Barista Elaine is different from the usual Elaine:
1). SBE likes talking to strangers.
Of course when you're working the counter, you're taking orders. But SBE likes asking people how their day is and what they're up to later. This actually sounds creepy as I type this.
I blame the extra counter space between the customers and me that makes a relative forcefield barrier. As a rule I don't like talking to people. The thought exhausts me. And I'm suspicious of any strangers that even glance at the book I have in my hand.
One time I was sitting at a table and an elderly lady sitting near me looked down at the book I had placed on the table. Unconsciously, I quickly turned the book over so she couldn't see the title. That was unforgivably rude of me and I felt bad for doing it immediately afterwards, but that was just my immediate automatic reaction.
(in case you're wondering, the book was Swann's Way by Marcel Proust, not some flaming romance novel with Fabio on the cover...Just in case you were wondering...)
But at work, I love knowing what people's regular orders are. I like hearing about people's days and knowing what's going on in their lives. Who is this weirdo?
2). SBE likes answering the phone.
I thank the technological advent of texting that renders most phone conversations unnecessary. I hate talking on the phone. If someone unexpectedly calls me, even if it's a good friend, I feel anxious inside. If the phone rings and I'm on the other side of the room, I'll usually just let it slide.
This is not true of real life. I actually sound pretty belligerent when I answer my cell phone. It's an unconscious tone of "why are you calling me?" Friends have told me that they were intimidated and/or extremely uncomfortable talking to me on the phone. This is why most people just text me now.
If I get a call from an unknown number, I never answer, telling myself that if it's important, they'll leave a voicemail. But the truth of the matter is, I never check my voicemails either. It's too much of a bother.
3). SBE rushes in to fill silences.
I like silences. I know I'm repeating myself from earlier posts, but I like doing a lot of things alone. And I really treasure those ponderous moments people take before responding to a question, adding the weight of silence to their words. I like the rests between people who know each other well -- whether through time or in spirit. There are a lot of answers that get lost because we don't give them the time or space they need to be told truly.
But there's something about being at the counter at work that makes me itch to fill those moments in. When the receipt is taking a beat too long to print out, I can't help but blurt out a question or a random phrase at whoever's standing on the other side of the counter.
Some people think I (the usual Elaine) am too quiet at times. I like listening to what people have to say and usually at the dinner table, I say little if anything at all...And I've been asked by others whether I'm upset or if there's something wrong. Not really. I just find very little use for small talk and I enjoy hearing other people much more.
But for some reason, I find myself engaging in small talk to fill up the small voids at work constantly. "Wow this is some weather we're having, isn't it?" "Hope you're keeping warm out there" or "how about those Olympics?"
I know it sounds like it should, but I do not actually punctuate these phrases with a "gee whiz" motion of my arm.
"How about those Olympics?"??? Why do I even bother talking? I should just print out receipts and spread mayo on sandwiches out of sight in the kitchen and keep quiet.
Or, you can just drop by when I'm working at the cafe.