A lady in a tie-dye hoodie leans over the counter and rests her elbows on the same plane that has seen countless cups of frappachinoiomachiatos and french roast brews passed to frenzied customers who are jittery enough as it is, let alone with a fresh injection of caffeine. Tie-dye isn’t wound up. She is quite at ease, chilled out naturally and dressed for the occasion. She is gleefully recounting the time that she and the barista on duty ordered pizzas from Jet’s and the buttery crust melted in their mouths and the crazy but nice guy who lived downstairs jumped into the pool with his clothes on, all of which happened on the same evening a few years back. They all still see each other, but its not the same, now that barista works at Biggby’s and tyedie makes a living as what she calls a “discount protester”, hoping to score her pizza money by picketing and shouting “where’s our rights?” together with people she had just met at companies she had only heard of that day. It didn’t matter. The money was good and the experience was always interesting. Her laid back ways had benefits as well as costs, often leading her to situations where attention to important details would have been handy, especially the time she was hired on to protest with other teamsters on a Tuesday and came back Wednesday, only to be hired by the management side instead, a coup for the management and source of great confusion by the teamsters. It didn’t matter. The money was good. And money is what she needed today but didn’t have. Her need for cash caught her off guard as did a new awkwardness in tie-dye’s friendship with barista. He has to start charging her, he explains, because management has been cracking down on free drinks for friends, citing the guidelines in the employee handbook, “put there because it happens enough that it costs the company money”. This was drilled into barista and the others at the last barista meeting, held late Sunday night while the Simpsons were finding their way into, what, season 30? Barista was in that meeting while tie-dye watched the chalkboard gag from her couch, relaxing with some pizza and certainly not worrying about coffee money, since barista was always cool as long as a manager wasn’t nearby. But meetings, even for the laid-back tie-dyed among us, change things.
Don’t be mad, tie-dye. Barista works for the man.