today a partner from another store covered a shift at my bux.
i'd never worked with the guy before, but bitter old dude gave me a cryptic warning about him.
"the less you say, the happier you will be," he told me before clocking out for the day.
when the shift-covering partner arrived, he seemed harmless enough. very bubbly, very flamboyant and very chatty. i quickly realized he must be his store's version of 'the talker', but i didn't realize he was also much, much more than that.
"hi brat!" shift-coverer introduced himself to me. "i'm the fatter, gayer augustus gloop!"
i kid you not - this is the first thing he said to me.
our shift together moved along pretty smoothly, even though he had one of the worst cases of verbal diarrhea i've ever seen. but things changed while i was conversing with a regular.
"so brat, they never give you a day off, do they?" mr. regular asked me good-naturedly.
"yeah, they have me slaving away over this hot bar!" i joked back.
mr. regular chatted a little longer with me before he left - that's when the fatter, gayer augustus gloop chastised me.
"i can't believe how insensitive you are," he shook his head at me.
"why, what happened?" i asked, curious as to what i did to offend whomever it was that was offended.
"you just said 'slaving away' while there was an african-american in the lobby!"
i was honestly taken aback.
was the customer really offended by my banter with mr. regular?
"did he say something to you about it?" i asked shift-coverer.
"did he look upset about it?"
"so how do you know it bothered him?" i asked.
"i don't think he even heard it - but that doesn't matter because I did. you have to watch what you say because it might offend someone and you have to be sensitive to the people around you - even if you think they aren't listening."
excuse me, but wtf?!?
shift-coverer explained to me that he was a self-appointed goodwill ambassador, spreading his ideology of tolerance and diversity wherever he went.
"i'm gay," he informed me again, "and i have to deal with verbal abuse every day of my life. sometimes it's intentional and other times it's people, like you, that are so programmed to be bigoted they don't even realize they're doing it."
"you're calling me a bigot?" i asked him, pissed that he was so concerned with my language and not his own.
"i'm just saying that you can re-program yourself to use less hate speech."
i had to walk away from him if i was going to stay sane.
later he picked up where he left off, imploring me to "think before i spoke".
"well, i don't agree that the expression 'slaving away' is hate speech."
"i know you don't - and that's the problem." he said smugly - as if i'd just proven his point for him.
"well, don't you think sometimes hate is in the eye of the beholder?"
"so now you're blaming the victim?" he asked, indignant.
thankfully we were pretty busy for the rest of the shift and he didn't have time to pull out his soapbox again. and hopefully i won't have to work with the 'word police' any time in the near future.
barista rant: don't get pissy with me because i didn't drop what i was doing to get you a cup of water. yeah, you're thirsty, but there are five PAYING customers that are waiting for their drinks. you don't get priority because your drink is 'easier'. in fact, i have to leave my station at the bar, grab a cup, walk over to the ice bin, then walk over to the water dispenser just to prepare your precious drink. sorry, but you have to wait until i'm done with the drinks i'm currently waiting before i run all over the store just to please you.