sometimes there are occupational hazards to being a barista.
i'm not talking about steam wand burns, box-cutter wounds or pulled muscles from carrying multiple gallons of milk. i'm talking about barista molestation.
now, one of the great things about working as a barista is getting to know our regular customers. they come in daily to joke with us, and tell us about their personal lives - and usually that's the extent of our interaction. but there are some days when talking isn't enough to satisfy a customer.
i have been squeezed, hugged, and petted too many times to count. and these customers are tricky and quick; they always wait until you've turned your attention to something else before they thrust themselves upon you. i've had my hand grabbed and kissed while i was giving someone a pastry, my hair caressed when i was changing a trash can in the lobby and my fingers caught in the paws of an affectionate customer when i took his credit card from him.
the latest incident happened while i was restocking the gums and mints at the register, which required me to leave the safety of my usual spot behind the bar and join the 'civilians' on the other side of the counter. while i put the little tin containers where they belonged, i felt two hands on my shoulders. before i could react i was being massaged by some customer.
"there you go brat, you deserve it." the voice of one of our regulars told me.
"haha, yeah." i answered uncomfortably as i wriggled free of his grip.
"now, i wouldn't do this for just any barista." he raised his eyebrows at me and i ran behind the pastry case so that i would be out of his reach.
"brat, i heard you got the 'special treatment' too." awesomely amazing barista said to me later that day.
"he did it to me as well and i was so conflicted." she wrinkled her nose. "i so didn't want him touching me, but i really needed the massage!"
now, both of us knew this regular didn't mean to come off as creepy, and i'm sure he really was just being nice, but it's difficult for us baristas at times like these. we don't want react harshly with a loud "HANDS OFF!" and get in our fighting stance, especially when previous to the encounter the customer has been princely. nor do we want to seem in any way encouraging. there's a fine art to setting one's boundaries without making the other party feel defensive and unfortunately it seems i'm not very artistic.
partner rant: it's ok to be frustrated. especially when we are understaffed and we have a line out the door. but it is not ok to yell at your fellow baristas. ever. no matter how many drinks you've had to remake or how many customers have asked you for water. respect your fellow baristas, or find someplace else to work.